Monday, March 23, 2009
This op-ed shot up the NY Times Most Emailed List today, so it must be resonating with other people besides me. Before reading this, I hadn’t realized that standardized reading tests divorce the skill of reading from the content students should read at each grade level by testing comprehension of random passages, as if reading is a skill that exists in a vacuum. Yet another reason to be deeply suspicious of an educational system tied to testing. If the tests are content-less, then teachers have to spend class time teaching test-taking skills rather than teaching students how to read actual content, real texts. As a literature professor, I am especially irritated by the idea that anyone ever thought it was possible to test reading – and thus to teach to such tests – without actually reading a wide range of real, significant, important texts! Read books! Both reading to kids and helping them to read to themselves should simply be the major cornerstone of education. How complicated is that?