Dear editors:

In Grant Pick’s March 12 story about the rebellion against standardized testing led by a few Whitney Young students, according to the school board “less than half of 1 percent of class time on average is spent on testing.”

This may accurately reflect the amount of time spent actually taking tests compared to the total amount of time spent on school grounds, but this statistic does not fairly measure the impact that testing has on the amount of time available for education. BetsAnn Smith’s report, “It’s About Time: Opportunities to Learn in Chicago’s Elementary Schools” (published by the Consortium on Chicago School Research) notes that tests have a huge effect on the structure of the entire school year: “Moving the administration of these tests toward the true end of the school year could revive an end-of-year work ethic and restore as much as 20 percent of the annual instructional time to teachers and students.”

Testing is certainly a necessary tool for improving our schools, but we shouldn’t be improving our schools for the sake of producing better test takers. Chicago Public Schools need a sense of perspective that will reduce testing to its proper place.

Brian Zimmerman

S. Cornell