Dear School Board Member:
I am a teacher at a local elementary school, as well as the parent of a student at the same school. I'm writing this letter as a parent, to a parent. I am becoming more and more concerned about the emphasis on standardized testing as the criteria of student and school achievement.
When I began teaching at this school last year, I was impressed by the caliber of the teaching going on here. In April, I requested an intra-district transfer for my daughter. She has been at my school since then. Her growth as a reader, writer, and mathematician has been everything I hoped for, and more.
However, that growth can never be measured by the SAT-9. As soon as she sits down to take such a test, her mind freezes up. She completely gives up on the math section, even though it is work she can do. She doesn't want to go to school on test days. She has begged me to stay home. Even she understands that the test does not bear much relationship to what she is learning in school.
Yesterday, the father of one of the students in her multi-age 4th-5th grade class read William Blake's poem that begins "Tyger, Tyger, burning bright." When he asked for comments, my daughter said, "I think the jagged spears are lightning, and the tears of the night are rain." What standardized test would find this out about how she thinks?
My daughter is a gifted artist. She uses that talent to illustrate comments about books she has read. What standardized test would demonstrate this about her?
Yesterday, she scribbled out math equations on the chalkboard in my room as she waited for me after school. They weren't correct, but they looked like calculus. She was so excited. She said, "Mom, I CAN do math! I can't believe it!" What standardized test would let her feel this way about her developing math skills?
Last year, I decided I could no longer subject her to a test that has no relevance to what she is doing in school. I decided I could no longer subject her to a test that sent her into near-panic at the thought of taking it. I requested a waiver for her, and for her older sister. The relief in their eyes when I said they didn't have to take the test was worth it. I will be requesting waivers again this year.
I urge you to do the same for your child. If you could do this, and state that you are doing this, at a board meeting, it might cause the public to take a second look at this inappropriate tool for assessing children.
A Concerned Parent
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