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Testing is not wasted time

The Baltimore Sun investigation of testing in state schools missed a major point: In Anne Arundel County, the district with the most state and local testing, students take 46 hours of mandated tests per year ("Debate rages over how many hours Maryland students should be tested each year," Nov. 15). That's 4 percent of the 1,170 hours which students are in school each year. In other districts, the percentage is even less. If tests are aligned with standards and if results are used by educators to adjust instructional programs, 4 percent is certainly not too much.

The right data (state and district test data plus classroom test data from teachers) analyzed in the right way (using an analytic protocol), at the right time (on an ongoing basis during the year), for the right reason (to improve instruction) pay big dividends in student learning. I have been a data coach in over 100 schools. I see it all the time.

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Ronald S. Thomas, Towson

The writer is associate director of the Center for Leadership in Education at Towson University.

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