The following letter was written by a principal in Néw York City. He describes what so many educators feel: Education is being destroyed by excessive, pointless testing. The sad fact is that testing no longer functions as a way to inform teachers and parents and to help children but as a blunt instrument to wear children down and demoralize their teachers.

Subject: Student and testing burn out.

“Today, we had a few students that did not write a thing for the essay on today’s practice CCLS English Regents. The exam was tough and kids were burnt out.

“Once upon a time, there was an English Regents exam.The exam was a total of 6 hours over two days in which students had to write 2 essays. The new exam requires 2 essays, reading 10 pieces of text and answering multiple-choice questions that resemble AP/SAT subject questions. CRAZY!!!

“The combined testing of city and state, coupled with practice exams to ready the students for the tests are having a major impact.

“We are exhausting the children.
Exhausting testing team staff.
Distracting testing team staff from instructional and professional development work (Testing team personnel are usually out of classroom coaches/pd providers, etc.)
Losing Instructional time when students are taking the exams and when they are covered by subs so their teachers can grade exams.

“Exhausting a lot of money, not just in copying and administrative, processing, mailing costs, but in the hiring of subs so that teachers can score the exams.
Someone should look at the true cost of testing to this degree via RTTT mandates.

“I wonder every day whether the benefits will be worth the weight of the burden.

“I am not an advocate for no testing. I love accountability that results in action (adjustments to curriculum, professional development, intervention plans/actions, or removal, retraining, or reassignment of poor performing staff.

“I am just wondering how these exams can be made more civil for children.
They are almost a form of corporal punishment.

“Eight year olds sitting for 3 days straight for math and ELA state exams. Schools doing all of this testing and being forced by the state to administer field tests.

“It seems like unnecessary overkill.
The city giving exams in fall and spring in order to create these “local measures” for RTTT mandate.

“Perhaps the tests should be only state exams…
A November exam and a late May/June exam that is half the length of the current exams…
This way we eliminate the need for some of the city local measures for pre and post.
We can also garner a growth measure between a child’s results in late November and late May/June which can factor into the teacher rating.

“Anyway, this was a hard year. I would argue harder than Hurricane Sandy…all due to the policies that adults make devoid of practitioner in the field or principal input.

“There is so much talk out there about respecting communication and input from parents, etc.

“Yet, the centralization of power in one place has a few people pushing agendas on localities devoid of sincere and respected input.

“Sort of like the criticism incurred by the community boards in city neighborhoods that have no local code legislative or enforcement power…some argue they are there for the illusion of democracy so that a few powerful entities can make policy that permits developers and other agendas to have their way.

“Sorry for the negative information, but this has been a tough year and the conduits of input from the extremities to the heart are few and far between.