William J. Reese is a professor of educational policy studies and history at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the author of “Testing Wars in the Public Schools: A Forgotten History.” This op-ed in the New York Times appeared April 20, 2013.
FOR the nearly 50 million students enrolled in America’s public schools, tests are everywhere, whether prepared by classroom teachers or by the ubiquitous testing industry. Central to school accountability, they assume familiar shapes and forms. Multiple choice. Essay. Aptitude. Achievement. NAEP, ACT, SAT.
To teachers everywhere, the message is clear: Raise test scores. No excuses. The stakes are very high, as the many cheating scandals unfolding nationally reveal, including most spectacularly the recent indictment of 35 educators in Atlanta.
But we should also be wondering, where did all this begin? It turns out that the race to the top has a lot of history behind it.
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