At the 2001 convention of the Modern Language Association in New Orleans, a resolution was submitted to the Delegate Assembly denouncing standardized tests. Drafted by the Radical Caucus, it asserted that “‘high-stakes’ tests invariably discriminate against students from poor, working-class, and minority families,” and that they “provide an ideological rationale for the perpetuation of inequality.” The resolution passed 107-11.

Six months later, the quarterly Daedalus devoted an issue to the fairness of tests and similar topics. The former Department of Education official Diane Ravitch composed the lead article, “Education after the Culture Wars,” and eleven scholars and practitioners responded. Ravitch’s contribution grew out of her late-1990s experience at the National Assessment Governing Board, a federal agency that administers tests to U.S. students....

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