The Los Angeles Times notes in an editorial that there must be a balance between testing and creativity. It points out that the Asian nations that we claim to admire for their test scores–Japan, Singapore, China–wish they could unlock the creativity that has long characterized American culture and education.

Yong Zhao has made this point powerfully in his books, especially in the one that was published just weeks ago, World Class Learners. Indeed, it is not balance he emphasizes, but the necessity of de-emphasizing rote learning and standardization. Yong Zhao argues in that book that the emphasis on high scores and on creativity are not complementary; he says that the nations with the highest test scores are lowest in entrepreneurship and creativity. The pursuit of high scores may eventually undermine the advantage that the U.S. has long enjoyed: an education system that is highly decentralized, where there is time to cultivate imagination, creativity and risk-taking. It is the American spirit. If it’s standardized, it will be destroyed.