Media: Testing Dana Goldstein's Latest Article
I'm generally a big fan of Dana Goldstein's work -- she's the education reporter not enough people seem to know about -- and I can tell she put a lot of time reporting and researching her latest, The Test Generation, in the American Prospect. But though it's well worth reading, the 5,000-word piece is for me a disappointment overall. It seems hyperbolic at some places (ridiculous tests are coming to every nook and cranny of schools!) and ponderous at others (explanations of growth models vs. value added, etc.). Goldstein presents the Harrison schools as an example of what could happen nationally, but then doesn't give any evidence that it is happening or why it's likely to happen. (Slate's cranky media columnist Jack Shafer would call it a fake trend piece.) She says that parents don't like testing but reports that there have been few complaints. She says value-added ratings confirm what principals already know, an issue I don't think is settled. She describes the stresses of testing on students without acknowledging the source of the stress -- teachers. She insists on describing NCLB's "harsh punishments," a pet peeve of mine (there were exceedingly few of these), and generally blames Washington for things states and districts and schools did of their own volition -- a responsibility flipflop that I see repeated in too many places. Relatively minor issues, over all, but a lot of them. So veteran teachers don't like all the testing and want to get back to their brilliant rainforest units, and some of the test items are clunkers? Test scores are up. Parents aren't in an uproar. My sense is that Goldstein talked to too many teachers who wanted to talk to her, a common mistake in education reporting, and that perhaps she's playing too much to a liberal readership rather than challenging them to think and giving them fresh new insights.