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[Susan notes: Three Cheers!!! What a great ending. Sadly true. How can we, with any conscience, cheer public schools outperforming charters on test prep?]

Published in Boston Globe

To the editor

NEVER BEING a fan of charter schools, particularly those of the for-profit variety, I suppose I should cheer yet another study showing that they perform worse on tests than traditional public school (Page A3, Aug. 23). And yet, for the same reason that judging schools solely on test results makes for bad educational policy in mainstream schools, it also hurts the charters.

Public schools are increasingly looking like glorified test-prep centers . Leaving aside private schooling companies whose bottom line is profitability, well-intentioned educators engaged in creating charter schools are in a bind. Being evaluated on the results of a few standardized tests hamstrings creativity. Tests foster rote memorization, and teachers, under the gun, fall in line and teach to the test.

Pity the poor charter school that tries to offer a creative and innovative program. It may be a great school full of inquisitive, happy, and engaged students, but if these students don't get the big scores, they're sunk. To cheer the relative ability of seasoned public school teachers to better teach test-taking skills is to get mired in the ideological slop that often passes for debate about education in this country.

The writer is a teacher at Newton North High School.

John V. Callahan

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