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[Susan notes: Two strong letters emphasize the dangers of

focusing on standardized testing and missing the

forest for the trees.]

Published in New York Times
11/07/2008

To the editor

Re “Inspiring Story of Success at Charleston

School Gives Way to Suspicion and Hurt” (news

article, Oct. 31):



The controversy over whether or not student

performance on standardized tests was manipulated

at Sanders-Clyde Elementary School in Charleston,

S.C., points out a fundamental problem with our

country’s education policy: we’ve confused high

test scores with actual success.



Cheating on these tests is reprehensible, but it

is a completely separate issue from whether or

not this school, or any school, has truly

improved.



The most effective ways to determine school

success do not involve standardized tests at all.

They involve walking into classrooms day after

day to see if children are engaged in meaningful,

enriching activities.



If the final verdict on this school is simply a

matter of whether or not the test scores are

fake, then whatever the outcome, we’ve truly lost

sight of the forest for the trees.



Jeremy Glazer

Miami Beach

The writer is a teacher.



â€Â˘



To the Editor:



The story of Sanders-Clyde Elementary School is a

sad story of education’s current state of

affairs. Here we have a principal who was

obviously dedicated to helping her charges obtain

some of the financial and emotional needs that

many were not able to acquire at home.



While this approach is laudable, it could not

succeed in the short run because of the focus on

testing. Testing, as it is currently performed,

is the big crime in this country. Testing is

fraught with extreme pressure to perform, which

leads at best to teaching to the test, and at

worst to outright cheating.



We need a strong national curriculum, a return to

school and teacher creativity, real help for

those in need, and a legitimate way to test the

success of our endeavors.



Howie Weiss, Fresh Meadows, Queens

The writer is a retired New York City public

school teacher.

Jeremy Glazer and Howie Weiss


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