The problem isn't that a test exits; the problem is that these tests drive curricula so that schools and teachers are formulating every aspect of the day around preparation for one test. Cepeda's column has the effect of causing readers to think that teachers are able to have full autonomy and creativity in the classroom without any pressures or mandates from the testing culture throughout the school year.

We don't just come to work one day in May and announce to our students that they'll be taking a state test today, "No big deal!" Rather, performance on these tests drives each decision that is being made by administrators for teachers and students from the day we first walk through the doors in August — especially in large urban districts where poverty is a major factor in many students' lives.

Success on these tests are not foregone conclusions; urban districts work very hard to help students achieve success, often without the additional resources we need to do so given, again, the realities of poverty in the lives of so many of our students.

Add to that the political and problematic big business of standardized testing (Pearson was recently revealed to have solicited writers and graders on Craigslist, which doesn't suggest a high level of rigor or oversight for these high stakes tests), and you have an educational environment that doesn't work for teachers, doesn't work for the community and most certainly does not work for students.

The United States once had a robust public education system without the oversight of standardized testing. Many of the leading countries in education have very little — if any — standardized testing. To not recognize these important facts is to not fully understand the political complexities of the debate. Education today is driven by power, politics and profits; not pupils. I have a feeling that Cepeda will, indeed, come to realize the role that standardized testing plays in that once she steps back into the classroom.

ELIZABETH PHELPS

ROANOKE

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