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[Susan notes: As usual, Alfie cuts to the real issue, which the press studiously ignores. ]

Published in New York Times

To the editor

Re "New Standards Mean More F's in State Testing" (front page, July 29):

Why would we assume that when a standardized test is tweaked so that more students appear to fail, those results are necessarily more accurate? Are harder tests really better? Is a system more educationally desirable when fewer children are defined as successful?

You quote someone from a conservative think tank who concludes that New York's test is unreliable. But it's standardized testing itself that we should be questioning. What we've learned is that passing rates (and difficulty of the questions) can be raised or lowered at will to produce whatever results are politically useful -- rather like shooting an arrow and then drawing a target around it.

The writer is the author of books and articles about education.

Alfie Kohn

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