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Why Is a Reagan-Era Report Driving Today’s Education Reform?

Staten Island, N.Y. — On the last day of school in June, Principal Aurelia Curtis was harried. An auditorium full of teachers was waiting for her. But instead of congratulating them on a good year and sending off three retiring staff members, she was in her office signing the last of the 742 teacher evaluation forms for her staff of nearly 150 that she had to finish by an end-of-year deadline.

Ms. Curtis, a stern but beloved leader who shares her name with Curtis High School here in Staten Island, N.Y., where she began her career 30 years ago, spends more time these days filling out intensive teacher evaluations required by the state than she does talking to her teachers. Or that’s how it often feels.