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Opting out of tests hurts students in the long run

There have been a number of articles in The News about testing in schools. A recent article gave reasons for opting out of testing: tests create stress; they put focus on math and English, not art and social studies; and they are used to measure teachers.

Centering on math and English is absolutely the correct focus, and while art and social studies may be seemingly secondary, I would suggest classes could be supplemented by outside reading and with parents who facilitate and guide reading.

Measuring teachers is a benefit and long overdue. All business professionals are reviewed and evaluated on a regular basis. The trend is to even more evaluations and merit – not less.

School is hard and it should be hard. If this causes some stress, then it is the parents’ job to help children understand the need for learning and how they might deal with it. I can assure opt-out parents that the work world and college level work requirements are not going to be easy and preparation in the early grades is good and appropriate. It is long overdue.

Parents should refocus all activities of the child on school and learning and consider reducing involvement in sports, and all the other distractions that take up time. Maybe less playing of games online and less cellphone use would be an area of opportunity to refocus on what matters.

Parents should demand longer school days, a longer school week with classes on Saturday and a longer school year. This would allow more classroom time and possibly insertion of courses that require more classroom concentration.

I believe testing is good. School appears to be getting harder. It should be hard. To take kids out of testing is a big mistake, and the children being opted out are being shortchanged. For parents who have their child opt out, all I can ask is: What are you thinking?

Gerald Drinkard

Clarence Center