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Betrayed by the System 

• ExcelinEd

Michael Lomax, CEO of the United Negro College Fund, weighed in on the national debate on testing earlier this month. In a powerful piece in the New York Daily News, he laid out the case for objective measurement in K-12 education.

As a former university president, Lomax saw freshman students arrive on campus each fall only to quickly realize they were inadequately prepared for the demands of college. On paper, these students were ready. But in reality, one in three had to take remedial courses to catch up on what they should have learned in high school.

Tougher standards and tougher tests, Lomax argues, are crucial to making sure all students graduate genuinely prepared to succeed in college and a globally-competitive workforce. He explains:

For far too long, students — and students of color in particular — have been betrayed by an education system that set the bar of achievement too low. They were given short rations of watered-down academics and low standards, leaving many to graduate from high school without the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in college and professional careers. Students put their trust in a system that underprepared them for life beyond high school…

The higher learning standards now in place in New York and other states emphasize critical thinking, careful reading of fiction and non-fiction, writing with evidence and high-order mathematics. The new standards compel many students to work harder — and learn more — than ever before.

Are the tests difficult? Yes. Is it painful for parents to find out their children are having trouble grasping higher-level material? Yes.

But will parents finally get objective measures of whether or not their children are on track to graduate college-ready? Definitely.

By opting out, parents do a disservice to all children, not just their own. Without an ample number of test takers, we will lose perspective on how our children are truly doing against the higher bar. This is especially important for students who need a better education the most: children of color, children from low-income families and those who require special education services or are learning English.

Read the complete piece at the New York Daily News.


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