Using Tests Smartly

Elizabeth Hartley Filliat:

Several letters to the editor on Aug. 24 (“A New Initiative on Education“) express concern that greater reliance on standardized tests for students will, in one writer’s words, leave “little room for passion, creativity or intellect.”
This possibility could occur, but with wise guidelines from Education Secretary Arne Duncan, this need not occur. The main purpose of standardized testing should be to assess the yearly advancement (or lack thereof) of individual students, not to punish teachers.
Students cannot learn if they are not taught at the level at which they are functioning. It is haphazard to teach “Romeo and Juliet” to a ninth-grade student who is reading on a fifth-grade level.
For educators to stick their collective heads into the sand is foolhardy. Educators must come out of the Dark Ages, use test results for diagnostic purposes and then teach students with precision and creativity.