A reader notes that all schools–whether charter or public–are driven in the wrong direction by the current obsession with test scores. High stakes testing distorts education and contorts it for data purposes. He/she comments:
I teach at a KIPP high school and have been thoroughly disillusioned and am looking to get out as soon as possible. We are absolutely driven by test scores (though I wouldn\’t say that\’s unique to KIPP; I think most schools are feeling the state breathing down their necks these days) and my lesson plans have to account for every minute, and students must produce an \”exit ticket\” every day evaluating what they\’ve learned. Obviously, in high school English, this doesn\’t allow for the fact that you often realize what you\’ve learned a bit further down the road, and it leaves no room for the sort of open-ended, robust debate and discussion of literature that characterized my (middle-class, public school) education. We\’re so busy breaking things down into component parts so we can say that a student can show he\’s mastered indirect characterization or metaphor on a five-minute quiz at the end of class that we never get to the beauty of Tolstoy\’s language or the aching desperation of Hemingway’s ”Hills Like White Elephants.”
My greatest regret is that I moved mountains to get my godson into a KIPP school and turned down an opportunity for him to go to boarding school because I thought it was too elitist. It may have been, but it would have given him a comprehensive education as well.