To my astonishment, I am still receiving e-mails about an op-ed piece, “Let’s Teach to the Test,” I wrote two months ago. I argued that most good teachers consider No Child Left Behind and other test-driven assessments convenient benchmarks and don’t find them disabling, as many critics say they are. I said what people call teaching to the test is actually teaching to the state standards, which most of us parents think is good, so perhaps we should consider teaching to the test a good thing, if the test is valid and the teaching sound.
Most of the hundreds of e-mails that have come in have suggested, in mostly polite terms, that I have no business writing about schools. But a larger minority than I expected said I was right. Given that continued interest, I thought I would share reactions to the op-ed from two teachers whom I know well, and who are both stars in the classroom. Kenneth Bernstein, who teaches social studies at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Prince George’s County, Md., and Mark Ingerson, who teaches social studies in the city of Salem, Va., look at this issue from different angles. In my view they should be read carefully because they both understand how best to communicate difficult material in the classroom and motivate students to learn.