Rather than dumbing down the tests, teaching must return to basics so students can pass standardized tests. As The Baltimore Sun has reported, test scores have dropped (“'Frankly, devastating’: Maryland reading scores decline on national assessment,” Oct. 30). Schools must reintroduce basics: Phonics, standard math and cursive must be reintroduced into the curriculum to prevent half-literacy, along with meaningful science and social studies programs that include teaching civic awareness and responsibility, encouraging the young to vote, with enough time to learn the subjects. Music and art programs are known to facilitate learning, as do exercise programs, and must be required subjects. If there is funding to cut taxes for the super-rich, there should be funding for meaningful education programs.
As a learning specialist in private practice, I have seen that special education programs often cut standard teaching of subjects to half as much time and require only 80% accuracy. Some classrooms are supposed to include a special needs aide, but many do not have them, and some rely on teachers without special needs training or experience. More well-trained specialists should be made available to students.
Hilda Coyne, Baltimore
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