[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
Re Ă˘€śInspiring Story of Success at Charleston
School Gives Way to Suspicion and HurtĂ˘€ť (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
countryĂ˘€™s education policy: weĂ˘€™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
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,
If the final verdict on this school is simply a
matter of whether or not the test scores are
fake, then whatever the outcome, weĂ˘€™ve truly lost
sight of the forest for the trees.
The writer is a teacher.
To the Editor:
The story of Sanders-Clyde Elementary School is a
sad story of educationĂ˘€™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
Jeremy Glazer and Howie Weiss