From DallasNews comes this review of a new children's book:
"Think globally, act locally" is a slogan that could apply to The Report Card, by Andrew Clements (Simon and Schuster, $15.95). Mr. Clements is an author and former teacher... His latest tale questions the importance of grades and standardized tests.
Nora Rowley is one of those rare kids in the upper genius range, and thus isolated from even the usual gifted kids – if anyone knew. She has been covering up for ages so that she can have a "normal" life in a school environment where standardized tests affect every aspect of the playground hierarchy, including friendship.
Nora carefully calculates ways to earn straight "D's" on her report card so she can remain with her friends. That draws a lot of attention to her, and she tries to use that attention to prove how arbitrary grades are.
Except for the fact that, you know, Nora's friends presumably aren't capable of making the A's they would need to be in her class (this is similar to the "we were able to make perfect score with test prep so that proves the tests measure nothing" argument). Nora may be smart, but not smart enough to realize that it's a whole lot easier to fake dumb than to fake smart.
When she encourages half the fifth grade to fail a standardized test, action must be taken. One of the surprising lessons she learns is that many teachers are as frustrated with standardized tests as she is.
Really? Nora must not read newspapers, which at times seem to be endless streams of teachers complaining about tests. And isn't a bit, I don't know, condescending for a smart kid to suggest deliberately failing to other kids, some of whom presumably struggled to understand the material?
The reviews on Amazon, though, suggest that the book is better than this review would indicate; for one thing, Clements doesn't pretend to have all the answers to the controversy surrounding testing in schools.Posted by kswygert at March 17, 2004 04:48 PM