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Obama correct to criticize emphasis on test−taking

I commend President Barack Obama for calling for accountability in public education. I support Obama’s efforts to raise standards for students, reduce dropout rates, oust bad teachers, open more charter schools and pay higher salaries to teachers with expertise in math and science.

But the idea that frequent, high−stakes tests allow school systems to effectively evaluate and improve educational outcomes is deeply flawed.

Holding teachers and schools accountable is necessary, but it does not justify the city Department of Education’s habit of equating academic achievement solely with test scores. As Obama said during a speech on May 29, 2008, “We also need to realize that we can meet high standards without forcing teachers and students to spend most of the year preparing for a single, high−stakes test.”

Judging teachers and schools only on test scores exacerbates the extreme emphasis on test preparation that has detracted from the learning that should be taking place in classrooms.

Let’s pursue Obama’s goal of achieving the world’s highest college graduation rate and remember that it takes more than test−taking skills to become a college graduate.

Mark Weprin


Little Neck

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