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High-stakes testing hurting our students

I agree with the viewpoint shared by Murray and Adeline Levine’s article in the Jan. 13 News regarding the failure of educational reform involving testing. The stats are clear that the only ones benefitting are the test publishers, while the taxpayers, the educators and, most importantly, the students are losing. As a special education teacher for more than 25 years, I realize that excessive testing is the worst thing to happen in education and specifically to my students, who are generally two reading levels or more below the state tests.

One example is “George,” an 8-year-old with multiple disabilities who arrived in the fall embarrassed to be a non-reader, but by spring read a first-grade level text, beaming with pride at his accomplishment. Then one day (actually multiple days) he was forced to take a third-grade New York State reading exam. He struggled to read words that were high above his current ability level and as a tear trickled down his cheek he said, “I’m not crying, my eyes are just leaking.”

This is one child, one story, with similar stories across classrooms all over the United States. The classroom with high-stakes testing is in direct contrast to Mrs. Knobloch’s classroom, as mentioned in the same paper in the My View column. The writer reminisces about his kindergarten teacher, his “guardian angel,” who helped him, a struggling student, become a success. She didn’t do it with testing, she did it with encouragement, support and a focus on the unique qualities of each child. Educators know that the over-emphasis on testing takes away time and money from helping students. If the government and its ridiculous tests would get out of the way, it would allow educators to be more like Mrs. Knobloch.

Dawn Bartlett

North Tonawanda