PSSAs are valid

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Before addressing the flaws of Kathy M. Newman's thinking ("Why I Won't Let My Son Take the PSSA," Forum, March 31), a correction is necessary: Gov. Tom Corbett didn't cut $1 billion from education. Since taking office, the governor has increased state support of public schools by $1.25 billion.

The writer's critique of the PSSAs is quite disturbing. Expecting educators to be held accountable for student performance is unacceptable? Expecting students to graduate with the skills and knowledge to be successful in life is unheard of?

I think Ms. Newman is a bit off the mark. The PSSAs have been in place for more than a decade and now that they will be used, in part, to evaluate educators, now is the time to opt students out?

As a taxpayer with two children in public schools, I want to know if my taxes are being used to educate not only my kids but all students since one day they will take the reins of this country and it's imperative to ensure their success.

My kids complain about taking the PSSAs, but they also complain about quizzes, unit tests and projects. Should we abolish all forms of assessment?

The writer forgot to mention that the Department of Education applied for a waiver to provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind law. Once approved, adequate yearly progress will no longer be measured. In fact, under the waiver application, it would not be used for this year's assessments.

Public schools must be held accountable to students, parents and taxpayers. If not the PSSAs or some other assessment, how else would Ms. Newman suggest we ensure that the $27 billion -- local, state and federal taxes -- Pennsylvania taxpayers put into K-12 public education is being used to educate our kids?

TIM ELLER
Press Secretary
Pa. Department of Education
Harrisburg


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