The pressure is on at schools across America. In recent years, reforms such as No Child Left Behind have created a new vision of education that emphasizes provable results, uniformity, and greater attention for floundering students. Schools are expected to behave more like businesses and judged almost solely on the bottom line: test scores.
To see if this world is producing better students, Linda Perlstein immersed herself in a suburban Maryland elementary school. The resulting portrait -- detailed, human, and truly thought-provoking -- is marked by the same narrative gifts and expertise that made Not Much Just Chillin' so illuminating.
The school, once deemed a failure, is now held up as an example of reform done right. Perlstein explores the rewards and costs of that transformation, through the experiences of the people who lived it. Nine-year-olds meditate to activate their brains before exams and kindergartners write paragraphs. Teachers attempt to address diverse needs at the same time they are expected to follow daily scripts, and feel compelled to focus on topics that will be tested at the expense of those that won't. The principal attempts to keep it all together, in the face of immense challenges.
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"If you want to know what is going on in our schools in the age of No Child Left Behind, this is the book to read. To the heroism of our over-blamed teachers and to the cluelessness of our administrators and policy makers, especially those who have imposed unwise test regimens in response to the new law, Linda Perlstein's gripping story is an indispensable guide." - Dr. E. D. Hirsch, Jr., author of The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy and The Knowledge Deficit.
"Amid all the heated rhetoric and mind-numbing statistics, it is too often easy to forget that behind test scores are real children in real classrooms. By taking us inside Tyler Heights Elementary School, Linda Perlstein provides a useful lesson by showing that test scores alone do not tell us the whole story. It's a lesson policy makers and others who care about education would do well to heed." - Robert Rothman, editor of Voices in Urban Education.
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