Improve Students' Writing, Not Coloring

The article ``Put Pen to Paper More Often, Study Says,'' June 10, addresses the diminished writing skills of United States schoolchildren. It seems that the easy answers, as identified by Secretary of Education Richard Riley, still prevail: Teachers should spend more time teaching writing, and students should spend more time in school. One factor in our growing national illiteracy that continually eludes many of those concerned with improving reading and writing skills is the unfortunate emphasis on standardized testing.

When students are consistently asked to demonstrate the value of their acquired knowledge through simplistic tests that require little analytical thought (other than the manipulation of test designs) and no creative ability, how can we condemn them for failing to acquire the kinds of learning and communicating skills demanded in good writing?

It is the writing of essays and formal exam papers that allows concise exposition of acquired knowledge and creative expression of ideas while helping to vigorously exercise the student's intellect and encourage development of the original mind - not the filling in of little boxes with a No. 2 pencil. Of course, this implies a need for more skillful teachers, the hiring of whom could be facilitated by reducing the excess of educational administrators, who exist only to support standardized testing structures and other statistical processes developed to categorize, rather than assess, human intelligence. Carl Brice Archibald, Seattle

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