|The following sample letter appears in W. James Popham, Testing! Testing!: What Every Parent Should Know About School Tests (Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon, 2000). Copyright 2000 by Allyn & Bacon.
I want to register my concern that there seems to be an excessive emphasis in our school on getting students ready for the standardized achievement tests scheduled for administration during (give the month of the upcoming test-administration). The reason I’m concerned is that I’m fearful the teaching staff’s preoccupation with raising scores on those tests may be preventing the teachers from covering other important skills and knowledge that the school’s students need.
I realize that you and your teaching staff are under considerable pressure to “raise test scores” because it is widely believed that students’ scores on standardized achievement tests reflect the quality of a teaching staff and, by implication, the quality of the school’s principal. I’ve been doing some reading on that topic, and I understand why it is that students’ standardized test scores do not provide an appropriate indication of a teaching staff ‘s competence. Scores on those tests are more a reflection of the student population served by a school than an indication of the skill of the school’s educators.
I hope that you and your staff will address this test-preparation issue in the near future. Parents want the school’s children to get the very best education possible. I’m sure you do too. That will not happen, however, if our school’s heavy emphasis on test-preparation deflects the school’s teachers from dealing with the curricular content our children need.