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[Susan notes: Two letters. Two excellent points.]

Published in New York Times

To the editor

I read "Panel Explores Standard Tests for Colleges" (front page, Feb. 9): with a sick feeling in my stomach. Standardized testing in higher education? Is nowhere safe?

I spent my entire high school career dreaming of the day that I would be able to go to school and learn for learning's sake, rather than cram for the next test.

A college education is supposed to broaden students' minds, not stunt them.

Standardized tests, even voluntary ones, would chill valuable academic exploration and would aggravate the insidious student-as-consumer paradigm, as anxious students demanded that their professors teach to the test.

If students' literacy levels are dropping, as Kati Haycock, a commission member, suggests, the problem has already been identified; and how, pray tell, will a written test ameliorate low literacy?

It's clear that the solution lies in the 12 years of pre-college education. Besides, there already exists a college-graduate ratings system: the graduate school admissions test.

Sarah P. Hanson

Jonathan Grayer, the chief executive of Kaplan Inc., a test-coaching company, promotes the idea of expanding standardized testing in college in his capacity as a member of a federal commission on postsecondary education.

Perhaps "identify the conflicts of interest in this scenario" could be a useful item in the critical-thinking section of such a test.

Just a suggestion.

Michael Newman

The writer is an associate professor of linguistics at Queens College, CUNY.

Sarah P. Hanson and Michael Newman

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