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Letters: Teaching to the test

July 22, 2012

Re "Thinkers or test takers?," Editorial, July 17

I am a recently retired high school social studies teacher. My students were required to do one research paper and one multimedia presentation each semester. I found that students learned more about areas of interest than they would have normally.

After No Child Left Behind was enacted in 2002, I lost three to four weeks each year to drilling students on test questions. My evaluations centered on test scores, not actual student learning.

During my last few years of teaching, I dropped the student projects and research to make time for countless days boring my students with test-taking practice. The irony is that test scores did not count as part of a student's grade, so there was no real incentive to do well.

I am very glad to have retired when I did.

Bud Piraino

Hemet

The difference between schools in the U.S. and those of its competitors abroad was best summed up in 2006 by Tharman Shanmugaratnam,Singapore'sminister of education, when he said that his country has a talent meritocracy while Americans have an exam meritocracy.

Rankings on closely watched standardized tests are poor indicators of what counts most in the real world. Though they provide instant bragging rights to the top finishers, they mislead by allowing false conclusions to be drawn about education quality.

Walt Gardner

Los Angeles

The writer is the author of Education Week's Reality Check blog.

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