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Reduce federal role in education

A student pauses while taking a sample SAT

A student pauses while taking a sample SAT test during his prep class in Newton, Massachusetts on March 3, 2005. Credit: Getty Images / John Nordell

Despite Washington’s passage of a new law in December — the Every Student Succeeds Act, which was supposed to roll back federal overreach into state and local educational matters — the U.S. Department of Education has proposed regulations that usurp state authority [“Fighting feds on tests,” News, Aug. 3].

The federal government wants to classify high-performing schools as “in need of improvement” based on the percentage of students it believes should take standardized tests. This is exactly the kind of thinking that was supposed to change with the new law, but won’t if these regulations are implemented.

A similar situation has occurred at the state level. Although the governor, the legislature and the Board of Regents have agreed to temporarily set aside recent reform measures that resulted in increased standardized testing, and the use of test results for purposes for which they were not intended, schools are still required to negotiate plans now for the use of these tests at some future date. This costly and time-consuming requirement provides one more example of things staying the same despite the appearance of change.

If our schools are going to reach their full potential, we need to close the resource and achievement gap between our wealthiest and poorest schools, we need to improve teacher preparation programs, we need to reform our teacher certification system to encourage the best and brightest to consider a teaching career, we need a funding system that makes sense, we need student assessments that are meaningful and useful, and we need accountability systems that work.

We need real, thoughtful change, not change for the sake of change. The public’s fully engaged. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity and make the changes that will make a difference.

Gary D. Bixhorn

Charles T. Russo

East Moriches

Editor’s note: The writers are, respectively, the executive director and president of the Suffolk County School Superintendents Association.