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Pressure Increases As Testing Season Nears

Testing season begins tomorrow for the city's 1.1 million public school children, and the stakes may be higher than ever this year. With new federal requirements forcing more limited-English students to take the exams, and progress reports coming out at the end of the year that will grade city schools partly by how well students perform, city schools will be under the microscope.  With city support, state officials have criticized a new federal ruling under the No Child Left Behind act that requires students who speak English as a second language to take reading tests after one year of being enrolled in an American school, saying it doesn't give them enough time to master the language.

"We remain concerned about the effect the federal decision will have on the schools, teachers, and most of all the children," the state education commissioner, Richard Mills, said in an open letter to state educators released at the end of 2006.  The city teachers' union is using the beginning of testing season to launch high-stakes testing speakouts for parents and teachers in every borough to fight to No Child Left Behind testing requirements as the act comes up for reauthorization in Congress. 

"It's one of those human breakdowns that happens when there's an inordinate amount of pressure to show results," a professor at Columbia University Teacher's College, Madhabi Chatterji, who has written a book on education assessment, said. "People are scrambling, even when it goes against their sense of professionalism."

This article appeared in the January 8, 2007 edition of the New York Sun.





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