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In Park Slope and Flatbush, two moms and two views on testing

A recent poll found that while half of public school parents approve of Mayor Bloomberg’s takeover of the school, half do not. Two mothers I met yesterday underscore that divide.

The first mother, who lives in Park Slope, told me she feared her daughter’s school would spend too much time prepping kids for standardized tests. It’s a familiar worry: that schools eschew instruction that stimulates creative thinking when they know they’ll be evaluated on the basis of their state test scores. (A new study has borne out this fear, at least for schools that fare the worst on the city’s evaluation system, Elizabeth reported yesterday.)

Chancellor Joel Klein speaks to two Explore Charter School parents. PTA president Stephanie Campbell is on the left.
Chancellor Joel Klein speaks to two Explore Charter School parents. PTA president Stephanie Campbell is on the left.

Later, while I was at Explore Charter School in Flatbush for Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s visit, PTA president Stephanie Campbell told me she loves how much her sixth-grade son is tested. Teachers at Explore are vigilant about identifying and addressing problems her son is having, she said. At his neighborhood school, which he last attended as a first-grader in 2004, teachers didn’t generate the data that would have revealed a delay, Campbell said. “I didn’t know he had a problem with reading until he got here,” she said.

Now, Campbell said she uses the results of her son’s frequent tests to know what skills she should work on with him at home. In fact, even though she said she likes Explore’s small classes of about 16 students, she said the frequest testing is the school’s feature she values most. “As long as we keep testing, it’s okay with me if you put 30 kids in the class,” she said.

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