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American Educator
Summer 2010


Table of Contents



Reviving Our Neighborhood Schools

While overreliance on test scores is distorting the very purpose of schooling, overblown faith in market mechanisms is blinding us to the fact that markets have winners and losers. For all students to receive a well-rounded education, we must revive our neighborhood schools.

Unintended Consequences
High Stakes Can Result in Low Standards

By Linda Perlstein

When test scores are the only official indicator of school quality, standards—and students—often suffer.

Tyler Heights Is Not Alone
Score Inflation Is Common in Education—and Other Fields
By Daniel Koretz

In Need of a Renaissance
Real Reform Will Renew, Not Abandon, Our Neighborhood Schools

By Diane Ravitch

Hollow reforms, like proposals that emphasize get-tough accountability over support for educators and widespread choice over quality neighborhood schools, enjoy their share of supporters. In this excerpt of her new book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, Diane Ravitch chronicles her realization that high-stakes tests and the proliferation of charter schools are undermining public education. Ravitch calls for a renewed focus on curriculum and instruction “that seeks to teach the best that has been thought and known and done in every field of endeavor.” Our students deserve the best. With the hard work of renaissance, we can give it to them.

More Choices, Higher Scores, and Worse Education

Ask the Cognitive Scientist
Have Technology and Multitasking Rewired How Students Learn?

By Daniel T. Willingham

Classroom technology can increase student engagement, but using it effectively is complicated. And, although multitasking seems efficient, focusing on one task at a time is actually more efficient.

Picture This
Increasing Math and Science Learning by Improving Spatial Thinking

By Nora S. Newcombe

Spatial thinking—such as visualizing the earth rotating—is crucial to student success in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. While some students are better at spatial thinking than others, everyone can improve.

The Professional Educator
Continuous Improvement: Making Evaluation a Tool for Increasing Teacher—and Student—Learning

With policymakers across the country proposing questionable ways to evaluate teachers, it’s time to listen to those who know what supports and systems are needed to enhance instruction: teachers.

All articles available in PDF format only.

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About American Educator

American Educator is a quarterly journal of educational research and ideas published by the American Federation of Teachers. Recent articles have focused on such topics as reducing the achievement gap between poor and affluent students, heading off student discipline problems, teaching an appreciation and understanding of democracy, the benefits of a common coherent curriculum, and other issues affecting children and education here and abroad. Total circulation, as of our most recent issue, is over 900,000.

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