Sample High-Stakes Testing Letter

Dear [Senator/Representative],

As a parent of a child in North Carolina schools, and as one of your constituents, I urge you to use this year’s legislative session to reduce the damage that high-stakes, one-size-fits-all standardized testing is doing to our state’s public schools.

Sadly, both Republicans and Democrats have bought into the idea of test-and-punish as a supposed “solution” to the public education challenges our nation faces. Courageous legislators need to stand up and oppose these destructive policies.

I understand that you will be attending a closed-to-the-public education meeting in Kannapolis this Thursday, in which you will hear from several individuals, including the head of Jeb Bush’s “Foundation for Excellence in Education.”

The “Foundation for Excellence in Education” has been a major national promoter of several proposals that intensify the problems caused by high-stakes, one-size-fits-all standardized testing. These include the “Read to Achieve” and A-F school grading legislation recently enacted here in North Carolina.

Such legislation enriches test-makers, and can help fill campaign coffers. But it harms children. The narrow focus on test preparation that it promotes limits the scope of children’s education, robs them of their love of learning and drives high-quality teachers out of the profession. The test-based retention mandated in “Read to Achieve” has been decisively proven to do more harm than good.

Last year’s disastrous debut of “Read to Achieve” was a prime example of the damage that a problematic piece of legislation can do to schools and children. Please do not allow your colleagues to make that mistake again.

Legislators who are truly concerned about the quality of public education in our state will support proposals that have strong research backing, such as small classes and high-quality preschool, rather than those designed to attract campaign contributions and burnish political careers. Both “Read to Achieve” and A-F grading need to go.

As the Kannapolis meeting is not open to the public, I would appreciate it if following the meeting you would report back to your constituents about the material that was shared, your perspective on high-stakes testing, and the educational policies that you plan to support in the coming year.