Here is my summary of the major points of Sara Mosle’s review of this book:
- Obama Administration inherited Bush’s education policy and stepped it up a notch.
- Ravitch no longer supports charter schools and No Child Left Behind.
- Ravitch challenges the notion that “…data — derived from testing — can tell us all we need to know not just about what’s wrong with failing schools, but how to fix them.” and criticizes Race to the Top.
- A particularly poignant critique of the identify the good teachers approach: “Nowhere was there a real-life demonstration in which a district had identified a top quintile of teachers, assigned low-performing students to their classes, and improved the test-scores of low-performing students so dramatically in three, four or five years that the black-white test score gap closed.”
- Ravitch is not a pessimist. But she argues for humility and skepticism of the data-collection method of reforming schools. “The dirty dark secret of NCLB is that we may know how to identify the worst performing schools, but no one (yet) knows how to turn them around in any consistent and reliable way.” Entire article in Slate
Reforming schools is a daunting, sobering, lengthy project.