Sunday Cummins's Reviews > The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education

The Death and Life of the Great American School System by Diane Ravitch
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's review
Jun 06, 2010

it was amazing
Read on June 06, 2010

I decided to buy my own copy of this book after reading Chapter 8 "The Trouble with Accountability." Ravitch nails the problems with judging schools based on their test scores - tests are flawed, teaching to the tests can make the results invalid, test scores can vary in unpredictable ways (the weather, students' state of mind, distractions, other conditions), etc and then on top of that to assume that school A gets better results than school B because of better quality instruction is a flawed theory...and there's more. I wish I could memorize this chapter word for word.

The rest of the book is equally worthy of reading. Ravitch is a historian and helped me think about how so many outside forces - the work of other school districts, state and federal policy, private foundations and so on - have influenced what I see in the local schools I work with in Chicagoland. Oh, my!

I think she wraps up a little too easily...she makes a clear, hard case for ten chapters that our reform efforts are flawed and then in one of her shortest chapters says there's no silver bullet - but she indicates that a strong curriculum, well educated teachers and principals who have tenure as educators, involved families, and a supportive community (that supports students and families) are the answer...the how is left up to the reader.
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