"I can't believe that in all the furor over testing, people aren't debating the test itself, like whether the questions are any good. One hundred million dollars should be used to empower Joy Hakim to write from scratch standardized tests for all the subject areas and grade levels. Ten years ago, Hakim decided to write her own American-history textbook, A History of US, directed at middle-schoolers. Textbooks by definition are supposed to be dry and boring, and it's presumed they can never be riveting because they're written by committees of people whose objective is not to offend any groups and to check off state standard 1B and state standard 2D, etc. The result is that textbooks are never fascinating reads. But A History of US is fascinating. Hakim brings characters to life in a way that a novelist can. It's politically progressive but also patriotic in a well-reasoned way. You would read this book for fun, even though technically, it's a textbook. What if a standardized test were written not by a bureaucrat but by somebody who deeply loves the subject? If there were such a thing as a standardized test that wasn't crazy boring and dry, then we might actually have a test worth teaching to."
— Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose
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A version of this article appeared in the February 2011 issue of Fast Company magazine.