US New has a good column here describing the harm that is done in schools by teaching only to the mandated state tests.
Good thoughtful comments. I would just add that the most important thing that schools can do, at all levels, is to develop a love of reading in children. Unfortunately, all of the mandated testing is working against this goal, as most educators and policy makers have the mistaken idea that reading skills are gained through drill. Advanced reading skills are only acquired through side, avid reading. So, in trying to win this battle of standardized testing, schools are losing the war.