The Insanity of Testing Mania

GREENSOBORO [N. CAROLINA] NEWS & RECORD June 11, 2000 The Insanity of Testing Mania By Irv Besecker In Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Alice falls into a hole and alternately grows larger and then smaller. As she grows larger, she cannot find her feet, which is when she forgot proper grammar and remarked that things were getting "curiouser and curiouser." Carroll ... Read More

Poor Teaching for Poor Students: More Reasons to Boycott the MCAS Tests

BOSTON GLOBE March 20, 2000 Poor Teaching for Poor Students More Reasons to Boycott the MCAS Tests By Alfie Kohn It is becoming increasingly clear that the MCAS is effectively hijacking the curriculum in suburban schools, forcing teachers to suspend innovative instruction in order to prepare students for the test. Still, the question remains: What about children of color and ... Read More

Sell Schools, Not Test Scores

REALTOR MAGAZINE January 2000 Sell Schools, Not Test Scores By Alfie Kohn Everyone knows that buyers are attracted to neighborhoods with good schools.  But not everyone has had occasion to think about what makes schools good.   That’s why many realtors continue to assume – falsely – that high test scores are a positive sign. To begin with, test scores closely parallel the ... Read More

Turning the Tables

BOSTON GLOBE November 14, 1999 Turning the tables: What if students and parents designed a test for the Board of Education? By Tim Wise With the release last week of the latest scores on the MCAS tests, or Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, we are once again being bombarded with warnings about "failing schools." The stakes are high; these statewide standardized ... Read More

In Defense of the Progressive School

INDEPENDENT SCHOOL Fall 1999 Vol. 59, No. 1 In Defense of the Progressive School An Interview with Alfie Kohn By Kitty Thuermer A former teacher turned author and lecturer, Alfie Kohn was recently described by Timemagazine as "perhaps the country's most outspoken critic of education's fixation on grades [and] test scores." We would add to this list "outspoken critic of our ... Read More

On Teaching Reading, Spelling, and Related Subjects

Excerpts from The Schools Our Children Deserve (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999) On Teaching Reading, Spelling, and Related Subjects Half Truths About Whole Language By Alfie Kohn “Kids aren’t learning how to read these days because ivory-tower ideologues have eliminated the teaching of necessary basic skills in favor of feel-good, PC fads like Whole Language.  We’d do a lot better if we ... Read More

What Works Better than Traditional Math Instruction

From Chapter 9: "Getting the 3 R's Right" in The Schools Our Children Deserve (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999) What Works Better than Traditional Math Instruction Why the Basics Just Don’t Add Up By Alfie Kohn The still-dominant Old School model begins with the assumption that kids primarily need to learn “math facts”:  the ability to say “42” as soon as they hear ... Read More

Moving Beyond Facts, Skills, and Right Answers

From Chapter 3: "Getting Teaching and Learning Wrong" in The Schools Our Children Deserve (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999) Moving Beyond Facts, Skills, and Right Answers By Alfie Kohn The trouble with the Tougher Standards movement isn’t limited to its failure to understand the costs of overemphasizing achievement.  The movement is also vulnerable by virtue of the way it defines achievement.  The vast majority of policy ... Read More

Tougher Tests = Lower Standards

BOSTON GLOBE September 29, 1999 Tougher Tests = Lower Standards By Alfie Kohn Pronouncements about the need for school reform - along with decrees for how it must be done - issue regularly from Mount Olympus, where, as it happens, no children live. These declarations often contain phrases like ''tougher standards,'' ''raising the bar,'' and ''increased accountability.'' But how do ... Read More

Confusing Harder With Better (**)

EDUCATION WEEK September 15, 1999 Confusing Harder With Better By Alfie Kohn Never underestimate the power of a catchy slogan and a false dichotomy. When a politician pronounces himself a supporter of "law and order" or "a strong defense," you may protest that it's not that simple, but even as you start to explain why, you've already been dismissed as ... Read More