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[Susan notes: Thank you, Ann Cook.]

Published in New York Times

To the editor

Re “English Scores Drop Sharply in 6th Grade” (front page, Sept. 22):

What more conclusive proof is needed about the bankrupt policies of the state education commissioner, Richard P. Mills, and those who claim that the answer to high standards and quality education is testing, testing, and more testing?

Young children may be compliant and try to please their elders by doing as they’re told, filling in blanks and practicing drills. But older children need better reasons than “because I told you so.”

Countless test-prep drills on multiple-choice worksheets, truncated reading passages and “granular” approaches to learning an ever-increasing list of sub-skills do not nurture a desire for learning.

In fact, as we’ve seen, it turns kids off, destroys opportunities for real involvement in learning and eliminates the chance to grapple with powerful ideas in a classroom.

Failing test scores are the legacy of a narrow joyless approach to learning.

Let’s finally connect the dots.

Ann Cook

New York, Sept. 22, 2006

The writer is co-chairwoman of the New York Performance Standards Consortium.

Ann Cook

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