Letters

The Christian Science Monitor, July 19, 2004 | Go to article overview

Letters


Standardized testing not an accurate assessment tool

In their July 12 opinion piece "Why not put schools to the test?" Bill Evers and Herbert J. Walberg claim that parents generally disagree with education experts, who oppose high-stakes testing.

Of course parents want education systems to be held accountable - but for all-around learning, not just what can be measured by a few- hour, paper-and-pencil test in two subjects. Parents also want schools to help foster citizenship and initiative - important areas that tests don't touch at all.

In the effort to bring meaningful accountability to public schools, it's important to remember that testing does not measure merit.

Parents deserve better information about schools than what test scores deliver. Lisa Guisbond Cambridge, Mass.K-12 Assessment Reform Analyst National Center for Fair & Open Testing

I teach 8th-grade social studies in Washington State. I have no problem with testing - assessment is a valuable and necessary tool in the learning process. Some instruments assess students' mastery of a body of facts. Others are designed to assess their reasoning abilities. Still others measure performance of learned skills, such as playing an instrument or creating a video.

I do, however, have a problem with tests being used for purposes for which they were not designed. I know of no test that is designed specifically to rank one school against another.

Public schools are a mere reflection of society. Go ahead, hold the mirror up to us; test us. But understand that the results of that test reflect all of society. Until there are some changes outside the school walls, the reflection will be difficult to change. Richard Reuther Snohomish, Wash.

International comparisons of test scores are meaningless as a measure of educational quality, despite what Mr. Evers and Mr. Walberg assert. Countries abroad use a system of differentiation in educating the young that is the antithesis of America's system of democratization. The sorting-out process elsewhere begins early in primary school and continues throughout the educational process. …

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