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Do We Need to Ditch High-Stakes Testing to Compete with China?

Forget memorization and do-or-die, high-stakes testing. China's ditching those old schooling methods. Just as we're using them more than ever.

At a time when international test results—like last year's PISA data—seem to indicate that American students are falling behind their Chinese counterparts, we're feeling the pressure to adopt a stereotypically Chinese method of educating kids: lots of rote memorization of facts and hardcore standardized testing. But in a recent interview with Education News, Minxuan Zhang, the Director-General of the Center for International Education Studies, Ministry of Education, China, and National Project Manager of PISA, says that the Chinese vision of education no longer includes those kinds of rigid practices. Instead, China's moving away from rote learning.

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Getting Under My Skin: When "Tiger Mother" Meets "Race to Nowhere"

Frustrated kids and conflicting messages about education are leaving parents more confused than ever about how to handle our "achievement culture".


My 15-year-old daughter stopped talking to me last week. During a long car ride I suggested quizzing her on literature vocab words for her upcoming mid-terms, knowing that concentrated study time at home needs to go to her four AP classes. She reluctantly pulled out the flash cards she made for the test, and I asked her, “What is ‘arduous’?” “Um, is it like when, sort of, you…uggh…I don’t know.”

I lost it. “‘Arduous’—you take all these hard classes and you don’t know ‘arduous’? Are you kidding me?” Then it got worse, and as usual, I ended with, “I’m blocking your Facebook.”

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