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The NCC Committee on Public Education and Literacy has created a faith-based study guide to support your justice committee or adult Sunday School or congregational reading group as you undertake to reflect on Linda Perlstein’s book TESTED: One American School Struggles to Make the Grade (Henry Holt and Company, 2007). 

TESTED explores the test-and-punish philosophy embodied in the federal education law, now called the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which was scheduled for its five-year reauthorization in 2007. The book is available in your local bookstore, and will be available in paperback later in the summer. 

Why study TESTED in your congregation? The reader spends days stretching into months with the third-grade teaching team at a school struggling to retain the Adequate Yearly Progress rating required by NCLB. “Bombard, bombard, bombard those children with the kinds of questions they’ll have on the test,” the principal rationalizes. “You want the students at a level of automaticity with reading those test-like questions.”  We watch teachers collaboratively plan each day to the minute, and we listen as the children yearn for more at school—to do some science, read for fun, perform a play.  Will the school raise its scores enough?  Suspense mounts until the last chapter.  Then the reader must weigh the benefits and costs.


It is now likely that NCLB will not be reauthorized until 2009, when there is a new President, a new Congress, and a new Secretary of Education. The delay provides an opportunity during 2008 for us, as people of faith, to reflect the reforms that will be necessary in the federal education law for our society to expand access for all children to opportunity through excellent public education.


Please let us know about your study of TESTED so that we can compile a list of the congregations engaging in this study and so that we can contact your congregation for further action in a few months as the discussion heats up in Congress.


You can contact Congress right now by printing out (and editing if you like) this letter and sending it to your Congressperson and your Senators. It is important to remind them that justice in public education is much on your mind, even as the reauthorization of NCLB is delayed. 


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