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[Susan notes: Read the whole letter. Don't miss the great medical metaphor! Classic Krashen.]

Submitted to Time Magazine but not published

To the editor

Re: "How to raise the standard in America's schools," Time, April 27,


Walter Isaacson argues that we need uniform national standards so we

can find out what works in education and compare our students to those

elsewhere [April 27]. Neither argument holds.

Progress in educational research does not require uniform tests given

to every student in the country. Just as research is done in many

other areas, educational researchers compare small groups of students

who differ only in the treatment under examination, using highly

reliable and valid measures, and then generalize from these results.

This approach has been very successful, and is a much better method

than testing millions of children, trying to deal with all the factors

other than the treatment that could affect results.

Similarly, if the purpose of nationally standardized tests is to see

how well our children are doing, we do not need to test every child.

We need only a representative sample. When your doctor takes your

blood, he takes only a small amount. He doesn't need all of it.

Stephen Krashen

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