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Dear Sirs & Madams;

Dear Policymaking Man,

My esteemed colleague, Bill Ferriter, recently wrote you a powerful letter. I hope you’ve had a chance to read it. Twice. Maybe even a dozen times. He talked about the devastating toll that high-stakes testing, merit pay and other half-baked policies are making on our teachers and their families. I could add to these sentiments a hundred times over as an elementary teacher. I won’t bother you with those details today. Instead, I want to piggy back on Bill’s comments and tell you a little bit how these things affect our kids.

Have ever seen the toughest kid in class break down into hysterical sobs in the middle of a state reading test and have to be removed from the room since it is not acceptable to disrupt others?

Have you ever had to console a child who did not meet that “level of proficiency” on one day and one test? Nevermind the fact that she was up all night babysitting her younger sister because her mom was called into work.

Have you ever convinced a child that she should get up off her knees and put away her Bible that she was praying over feverishly trying to allay her own fears of failure?

Have you seen a child with test anxiety?

Have you ever seen a child without test anxiety?

Have you seen a child get off track with their bubbling of answers and fail a test and realize it too late, knowing that their fate rested on it?

Have you watched kids labor over two straight hours of intense reading and math work, knowing that this is their chance to prove that they’ve had a successful year?

Have you ever actually seen one of these tests? I don’t know a psychometrician worth his/her weight in paperclips and floppy disks who would call them valid.

By the way, Mr. Policymaker, I teach 4th graders, kids who are 9 and 10 years old. And you are telling me these policies are what’s best for our children? I’m not as eloquent as Bill, but I just thought you should know what this testing is really doing to and for our children.


Stressed and Saddened in NC


9 Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing such a passionate, articulate explanation of the damage our system perpetuates with this “snapshot” way of assessing kids’ learning. You have inspired me and I will be writing my own as well.Well done!

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kelly Hines and Joan Young , Richard Lakin. Richard Lakin said: RT @kellyhines: This letter from @plugusin http://bit.ly/d34BdF struck me so deeply, I had to write my own http://ow.ly/1Q3i5 […]

  3. Very nicely said Kelly! Maybe we need to copy your letter and email it out ….

  4. I like how you expressed what these tests do to our children … I think all teachers can think of examples to go along with everything you mention in your letter … too often, I think people look at what they think tests can show us about children and not what the tests can do to the children.

  5. Great post, Kelly….

    I just got an email today from a mother whose child had a testing
    meltdown over a test that he won’t take until NEXT YEAR!

    The damage done by testing to teachers is a shame.

    The damage done by testing to students is a crime.

    Rock on,

  6. Thanks for the comments. I was talking to Melissa earlier, and it’s odd to me that Michelle Obama is focusing on having healthy kids in the US. Who is focusing on their mental health along with the physical?

  7. Dear Kelly:

    Your post almost brought tears to my eyes. There is so much pressure on our kids and even the teachers with all the resources being removed. I hope that the system evolves for both the kids’ and the teachers’ sake. AND. FAST.

  8. There is too much stress placed on these tests, and thus on these children. Too often people fail to take into account the situations that are specific to others. As an adult in college,during finals I am often over stressed to show my professors what I have learned based on things I sometimes feel to be irrelevant. Nonetheless, we do what we are told because that is what we have to do to continue forward. I do not condone putting this much stress on children nor putting so much weight on a test. I do believe a standard should be met, but there needs to a better way of assessing students.

    Jillian LeRouge, Elementary Education Major
    The University of South Alabama
    Dr. Strange’s Class, EDM 310

  9. I really like seeing websites that understand the value of providing a quality useful resource for free. I hope to develop a similar writing style to you one day.

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