Robert Pondiscio is a senior fellow and vice-president of the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute. He previously worked for E.D. Hirsch’s Core Knowledge Foundation and shares Hirsch’s (and my) belief that children need background knowledge to become good readers. That means that they should have many opportunities to learn about the world, about current events, history, science, and to broaden their understanding in the context of reading and experience.



This article by Pondiscio has a curious title: “Testing Alone Won’t Make Good Readers.” If the word “alone” were deleted, the title would make sense. Testing doesn’t make good readers. Reading makes good readers. Love of reading makes even better readers. Writers usually don’t write titles, so I assume this title reflects EdNext’s love of testing.


The other peculiar thing about the article is that it celebrates the new Secretary of Education John King for his belief in a rich, well-rounded education. When King was Commissioner of Education in New York, he kept these views secret and instead was a zealous advocate for testing.


Perhaps Secretary King has turned a corner. Perhaps he now regrets his fervent support for testing and VAM, which narrowed the curriculum.


Let us hope.