Why now? If Rip Van Winkle were to wake up at the beginning of the 2000s and ask if there have been any changes in public education in the past genera tion, what would we tell him? We would probably start by telling him about the national imperative toward standardized testing. We would describe the in tense pressures on administrators to produce test scores in their schools, mak ing it appear that their schools outperform neighboring districts. These scores are going to be publicized in bar graphs in the local newspapers and even in real estate offices: The better your kids and your neighbor's kids do on the state tests, the more your house will be worth. It's that simple.