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[Susan notes: I was so outraged by Freedman's column that I sat here numb. I am grateful that this elementary school teacher spoke out forcefully.]

Published in New York Times
08/05/2004

To the editor



Re "No More Social Promotion? Studying Instead of Criticizing'' (On Education column, by Samuel G. Freedman, Aug. 2):



As an elementary school teacher, I cannot dispute Mr. Freedman's claim that some students should be retained because they are not ready for the next grade.



I do, however, take issue with using test scores as the sole determinant of whether a student is ready. Mr. Freedman writes, "If the test can serve as an early-warning system, however imperfectly, then it helps meet a need that many educators have long recognized.''



What if the child is having a bad day, or hasn't eaten breakfast? Even the test publishers have said their exams shouldn't be used in isolation to promote or retain students.



Instead, how about consulting with the teachers and other professionals who spend several months educating and evaluating their students?



Students who are retained once are likely to be retained again later in their schooling. Those who are left back twice almost always drop out of high school.



The consequences of retention are severe.



Relying on students' performances on one test is unfair to them, and could unnecessarily jeopardize their educational futures.



Versha Munshi


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