After reading Peter Sacks' Standardized Minds, my discontent with the education system in the United States grew even more. Last year, I read another book that dealt with problems in education policy (Richard Kahlenberg's All Together Now: Creating Middle-Class Schools Through Public School Choice.) The latter discussed the issue of public school segregation by economic status, while the former, Sacks' Minds, waged battle against the validity and real-life values of standardized testing. Together, the books present two very critical problems plaguing the education system in the United States today. Sacks asks readers to consider several arguments regarding standardized testing in America, including the accuracy of test results, the meaning of test results, the bias of standardized tests, and the notion of ˜teaching to the test.' Standardized Minds also drives home the point of America's unhealthy obsession with the results of standardized tests.
I found the book to be both informative and compelling. As an American citizen, I can't understand why such grand problems exist in our education system, when education, moreover the education that students in the United States are receiving, is intrinsically linked to the future success and prosperity of our nation. Someday these children could be prominent figures in our country, leaders in big business, important writers or scholars. I believe that the government has a compelling interest in the state of educational affairs for this very reason. Also, perhaps the most widely accepted tool of the government to measure success (or arguably, punish failure) is the notion of accountability. Accountability works for the government because, theoretically, the buck stops with the president, one person who, through a series of channels, can ultimately be held responsible for the workings of the machine. However, who should we hold accountable for the poor test scores of children in