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[Susan notes: The writers make an excellent point and provide a good example of how we should scrutinize every article in the paper and protest when they don't acknowledge that NCLB and testing have highjacked the issue.]

Published in New York Times

To the editor

To the Editor:

Re âStudents Gain Only Marginally on Test of U.S. Historyâ (news article, May 17): The idea of a âtestâ has again hijacked the public debate on education. Because of No Child Left Behind and overzealous states and cities, curriculum and teaching in English and math classrooms have been reduced to test prep, tests, test scoring and test review.

Are multiple-choice tests what we want for the teaching of history? Shouldnât we clamor instead for policies that support in-depth inquiry, use of multiple sources and rigorous analysis of historical evidence?

In a letter signed by two dozen leading historians, Eric Foner, the Columbia University professor and past president of the American Historical Association, argues: âThe use of such testing as a primary assessment tool ... de-emphasizes the analytical reading, writing, and thinking abilities required by the discipline ... Students may not learn to make informed judgments central to the interpretation and understanding of history.â

Testing has become the problem, not the solution.

The writers are, respectively, co-chairwoman of the New York Performance Standards Consortium and director of the Center for Inquiry in Teaching and Learning.

Ann Cook and Phyllis Tashlik

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