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Anti-testing Letters

[Susan notes: According to Wikipedia, Mark Weightman Bauerlein is an English professor at Emory University and the author of 2008 book The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30).

Bauerlein earned his doctorate in English from UCLA in 1988, having completed a thesis on Whitman.]

To the editor

From Stephen Krashen

Submitted to Bloomberg News but not published (12/14/2012)


Mark Bauerlein wants to add still another test to the already overwhelming load of tests the common core will inflict on American students: A literature test covering "best works of American civilization." Bauerlein says it should feature questions "that will make students draw on Twain, Shakespeare, ancient myths, Edith Wharton and so on." In other words, the test is designed for college English majors.

Bauerlein’s suggestion is sure to stimulate lots of debate over what the best works of American civilization are (should Shakespeare be considered American literature? Are ancient myths part of American civilization? Why include this author and not that one …?).

Such a debate is a fine way of distracting us from the larger questions: Should we have national standards and national tests when so much evidence shows that the biggest problem in American education is our high rate of child poverty? The common core standards will be enforced by tests, more testing than has ever been seen on this planet. Why are we allowing this, in light of the finding that there is no evidence that it will improve student achievement?


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