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A Sharp Critique of Standards-Based Reform

Beyond Standards: The Fragmentation of Education Governance and the Promise of Curriculum Reform by Morgan Polikoff Harvard Education Press, 2021, $60; 192 pages. As reviewed by Natalie Wexler The many education reformers who have relied on academic standards to boost student achievement might outline their theory as follows: States broadly define what students should know and be able to do at specific grade levels. Publishers use these standards to create detailed curricula, which districts adopt. Teachers receive training in the standards’ requirements. Students’ progress is tracked by standards-based assessments. And educators are held accountable for the results. The expected outcome: markedly higher student achievement and a narrowing of racial and income-based gaps. In Beyond Standards, Morgan Polikoff demonstrates that this...

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Teen Volunteers Get a Foot in the Door for Nursing Home Careers

  By Michelle Andrews Jasmine De Moya, 17, has dreamed for years of working in the medical field, and she yearned to spend time with older people, missing her grandparents, who live in the Dominican Republic. A program sponsored by the New Jewish Home health system in New York City that combines volunteering and free training for entry-level health jobs, career coaching and assistance on her college prep is helping make her hopes come alive. Over the past three years, Jasmine has learned a lot about caring for older people, from the importance of speaking slowly and being gentle with frail residents who may have hearing or comprehension problems to how to brush their teeth or bathe them. “We practiced...

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The 9 Phenomenal Traits of Partners Deeply in Love

  “I’ve fallen in love many times… but always with you.” — Anonymous Do you know that awesome feeling of being in love? Where you feel like the universe is helping you and your partner. Things just somehow seem to happen to propel you towards each other. It is a scenario I picked up from all the fairytale books I read and happily ever after movies I watched growing up. That sometimes, you do not choose your partner consciously, but somehow, your heart knows. And it can be hard to explain to people — but your heart knows. My partner likes to say that his soul knew mine from before we met. And supposedly when we finally did meet, he...

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Authenticity and Apocalypse: An Interview with Alexandra Kleeman

Photo: Nina Subin. I first encountered Alexandra Kleeman’s work in the pages of this magazine. Her story “Fairy Tale”—published in 2010, when Kleeman was still a student in the M.F.A. program at Columbia University—is a nightmarish account of a woman confronted by a barrage of strangers who all claim to be her fiancé. The one she is forced to choose tries to kill her. Kleeman’s novel You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine employs a similarly arch and sinister surrealism to tell the story of two roommates whose identities slowly melt into one. In her latest novel, Something New under the Sun, the otherworldly elements lurk further below the surface. The world of the novel is an only mildly...

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What the Data Says About How Kids Learn to Read (and Learn to Like It)

Among my favorite book genres is histories of 19th‑century polar expeditions (spoiler alert: it’s super, super cold and a lot of people die). My husband, Jesse, and I share many interests, but not this one. The last time I read one of these books and tried to tell him what was happening, he retaliated by explaining the details of the book he was reading, which was—I’m totally not making this up—a history of the German Federal Statistical Office. But for me, a close second to books on polar explorers are books on neuroscience, which is where I think it makes sense to start in understanding the question of how kids learn to read. Because before thinking about how kids learn...

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