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[Susan notes: This letter provides good answer to the standard red herring argument that testing is the only way we know that teachers have taught well and that kids have learned well.]

Published in Albany Times Union

To the editor

In David Herrington's letter ( World is full of mandatory tests, April 29), he says he is "mystified by the railing against standardized testing." Unfortunately, his premise, that such testing is the best way to assess students and teachers, is flawed at its core.

Standardized tests measure how well students do with a narrow set of skills at one specific moment in time. To use standardized testing as the primary metric for measuring student and teacher achievement, much less school funding and teacher quality, is a dangerous system indeed.

Mr. Herrington states the only way schools and parents know that students have knowledge is to test them. Let me propose another: Perhaps qualified educators could spend 180 days a year interacting with children, assessing them in a wide variety of ways, then giving them some sort of "grade" at a regular interval. Qualified administrators could then assess the teachers with regular observations and evaluations. Parents could even meet with teachers one-on-one to discuss performance.

Knowledge is messy, and it is not easily quantified. Good teachers understand that. The rest of us need to, too.

Matthew McElligott

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