Season 2: Episode 28 – The Test – Interview with Anya Kamenetz

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 4.54.35 PMIn this episode, we talked with Anya Kamenetz. Anya is author of three fascinating books on the future of education. Generation Debt, DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education , and the most recent The Test: Why Our Schools are Obsessed with Standardized Testing – But You Don’t Have To Be, focusing on the topic of testing in American schools.

Anya is currently the lead digital education reporter for NPR. Previously she covered technology, innovation, sustainability and social entrepreneurship for five years as a staff writer for Fast Company magazine. She’s contributed to The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York Magazine, Slate, and O, the Oprah Magazine.

She was named a 2010 Game Changer in Education by the Huffington Post, received 2009 and 2010 National Awards for Education Reporting from the Education Writers Association, and was submitted for a Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing by the Village Voice in 2005, where she had a column called Generation Debt.

Anya graduated from Yale University in 2002 and currently lives in Brooklyn.

Here is what we talked about:

  1. What is the beautiful question behind your book The Test: Why Our Schools are Obsessed with Standardized Testing – But You Don’t Have To Be?
  2. Your book is organized conveniently into a section on “the problem” and another on “the solution.” Let’s start with the problem. Help our listeners and parents understand some of the flaws in our current testing system in this country.
  3. There’s a great quote on pg. 63: “…tests represent the urge to sort and stratify, to catalog, correct for, normalize, and, ultimately, erase differences.” What is with America’s obsession with testing and quantifying learning? How did this all start and why has it gotten out of control from a historical and political sense? Follow-up: If not quantifying learning, what should we be doing?
  4. How might we upgrade and reform our current systems of accountability and assessment? What is your vision for the future of testing
  5. Near the end of your book, you share a set of proven strategies that will help our learners perform better on the tests and also in life in general. Talk to us about TEST.
  6. What “beautiful questions” are you currently thinking about?

Join the Conversation

Each episode we leave you with a couple of questions to think about…with the idea of provoking conversation. This episode’s questions:

  1. As a parent or teacher, how do you build resilience and calm in learners who are facing the challenges of the current testing system?
  2. What can you do tomorrow to be a voice in changing our current systems of accountability and assessment?

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