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[Susan notes: Here's a good letter: short, reasoned, and to the point.]

Published in New York Times

To the editor

I was surprised to read President Bush's comment, related to his call for more annual testing, "I've heard every excuse in the book not to test. My answer is, how do you know if a child is learning if you don't test?" (news article, February 28)

At best, statewide testing programs can provide a rough snapshot of some aspects of the learning of groups of students. But every teacher knows

that the way to find out if an individual child is learning is through ongoing, continuous assessment that takes a variety of forms, such as written work, small-group work, individual conferences, and testing when appropriate.

The Bush administration is, of course, not using tests to see if individual students are learning but rather to rank and evaluate schools. But testing is inadequate for these purposes as well, since test scores strongly reflect other factors, such as social class background, and thus can never be an adequate measure of school performance.

Sandra Wilde

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