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Published in Altoona Mirror
09/15/2012
http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/564236/Testing-overrated.html?nav=737

To the editor



Good letter--giving parents something specific to do--opting their kids out of state tests.



Parents get ready for new tests this school year.



Pennsylvania is rolling out the new Keystone exams (the Keystones will take the place of the PSSAs).



All of Pennsylvania's 11th graders will be required to take Keystones (high-stakes standardized tests) in algebra, literature and biology.



Great. New tests to replace the old tests.



And why has Pennsylvania decided to get new high-stakes tests?



According to the spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Education Tim Eller, "We have heard from the higher education community and business community that students are not graduating with the skills needed to enter the workforce. These exams are raised to the level of what's needed to ensure that students are meeting certain requirements before they leave school."



First, what qualifications does a spokesman for the DOE have that permits him to make such a broad statement about testing?



Second, the above quote is total garbage. Being in the higher education community, I can tell you for a fact that most college professors do not want more high-stakes testing. In fact, we want it to stop.



Students aren't coming to college unprepared because they didn't have the right test. They come to college unprepared because of tests. They don't have workforce skills because of tests.



High-stakes tests and the perverted notion that we can test students into proficiency are the real problem.



We also know (but for some reason "qualified" people at the Pennsylvania DOE don't know) that the last 10 years has been a disaster for students.



Testing has essentially denied a generation of children a quality and equitable education rich in all academic areas. Testing and test preparation are the problems.



The new Keystone exams will do nothing to better prepare students for college and the workforce.



You don't need test-taking skills to thrive in college and the workplace. You need to be able to think and you need to be able to learn - two things standardized tests don't and will never measure.



Parents, please save your children from this new disaster by opting out.

Timothy D. Sleka


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