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Questions to the U.S. Dept. of Education's Secretary Spellings


Questions to the U.S. Dept. of Education's Secretary Spellings
A: Secretary Spellings:

Sherry, thank you for your question. Testing has always been an important part of the education process. I like to say that what gets measured, gets done. Without regular measurement and assessment, schoolchildren may be undiagnosed and uncorrected and left to fall behind—ending up, as the President has said, merely "shuffled through the system."

Under the No Child Left Behind Act, states and localities, not the federal government, determine the academic standards for which students are tested. Their purpose is to provide an independent insight into each school's progress, as well as each child's, so that no child—regardless of race, ethnic group, gender or family income—is trapped in a consistently low-performing school that does not meet their educational needs.

Such measurements are also important for teachers, letting them know if the curriculum needs to be reviewed and aligned with the content upon which state standards are based. The results also help teachers clarify those areas in which they may need more professional development. After all, the key mission of a school remains ensuring that children are learning. Annual assessments are vital to accomplishing it.