The education-reform debate as we have known it for a generation is creaking to a halt. No new way of thinking has emerged to displace those that have preoccupied reformers for a quarter-century — but the defining ideas of our current wave of reform (standards, testing, and choice), and the conceptual framework built around them, are clearly outliving their usefulness.
The problem is not that these ideas are misguided. Rather, they are just not powerful enough to force the rusty infrastructure of American primary and secondary education to undergo meaningful change. They have failed at bringing about the reformers' most important goal: dramatically improved student achievement.