An interview with Diane Ravitch

Dr. Diane Ravitch

Dr. Diane Ravitch is a polarizing figure in the education world. From 1991-1993, Ravitch served as Assistant Secretary of Education in President George H.W. Bush’s administration. Originally a strong proponent of school choice, vouchers and high-stakes testing, her views have changed considerably. She argues for her change of heart and in her new book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System.

It was recently announced that Dr. Ravitch will receive NEA’s 2010 Friend of Education Award. CEA recently interviewed Dr. Ravitch about the role of teaching and learning in the age of accountability.

Let’s say you were to walk into an elementary classroom in any school district ten years from now. If we stay on the present course set by NCLB, how will teaching and learning be different?

I think that there will be a great deal of drilling and teaching to the test. Most of the day will be spent on reading and mathematics. Kids will be encouraged to take lots and lots of test prep. This is happening now and I don’t see any change in the foreseeable future. The secretary has said that 100 percent of all kids should be proficient. There doesn’t seem to be an end date where this regime will conclude in victory. Now that so many states are tying teacher evaluation to test scores, it is predictable that we will have a system in which testing of basic skills is the basic purpose of education.

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