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[Susan notes: Contrary to usual policy, the Times published several letters disputing its editorial critical of opt outs ( Opting Out of Standardized Tests Isn't the Answer).

The writer is an associate professor of labor studies at the Murphy Institute, CUNY. Great summary statement: I won't let my children lend support to punitive, discriminatory and ineffective practices that are driving teachers from the field and corroding education.

]

Published in New York Times
08/21/2015

To the editor

"Opting Out of Tests Isn̢۪t the Answer" (editorial, Aug. 15) does not speak to the reasons our family opted out, or why the vast majority of the families at our school did. I am not opposed to testing, or difficult tests; for better or worse, being good at taking tests helped me at every point of my educational career. But these tests are being used inappropriately. Opting out allows the growing number of parents dissatisfied with the direction of so-called education reform to act directly against it, and, we hope, compel policy makers to forge new directions.

My primary concerns are the linking of teacher evaluations to test results and the high-stakes use of these exams for school ranking and funding. Studies have shown the weakness of these tests for evaluating teacher effectiveness. The state tests inevitably lead teachers and schools to teach to the test and spend inordinate time on test prep. This robs children of effective and creative pedagogy and rich curricular content. Majority poor and nonwhite schools that tend to have lower test results are even more likely to organize around test prep, at the expense of a broader curriculum.

I won't let my children lend support to punitive, discriminatory and ineffective practices that are driving teachers from the field and corroding education. It is my hope that the opt-out movement grows and continues to highlight the real things our public schools need -- adequate funding and constructive support for best practices.





Penny Lewis


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