Is Testing More Important Than Reading?

Boy Struggling to Read

Photo Credit: Olga Sapegina

Today, I administered the state English Language Arts examination to 4 students who receive speech-language therapy from me.

Their academic accommodations require them to be tested in a small group, a separate location, with minimal distractions. Two receive additional time; two do not.

Twenty minutes into the test, JR, an 8-year-old boy, folded his arms on the table, then put his head down onto them.

As I watched him, his face became flushed. A few minutes later, he burst into tears.

I rushed to his side and asked, “What’s wrong? What’s the matter, JR?”

Between sobs, he replied, “I can’t read!”

My heart broke. He’s such a sweet child.





He knows it and it hurts him.

In his listening and speaking goals, JR is demonstrating satisfactory progress.


He is currently placed in a self-contained special education class and the parents of the majority of the students in his class have opted their children out of these tests. Some non-English speaking parents, however, have somehow been led to believe that these state tests are essential to their children’s academic success.

Those poor children are doomed to experience failure…over and over again, leading to poor self-image and self-disgust.

Meanwhile, teachers have been counseled to refrain from educating parents about their right to opt their children out of these state tests.

You see, many school districts are dependent on a high percentage of their children sitting (not passing) the tests to ensure the retention of their state funding.

Funding vs competent children!


JR is probably dyslexic, but this district has no provision for either testing for or remediation of it. Parents are told to have their children tested…at their own expense. After that…

There are so many learn-to-read programs available today that work. Isn’t it time for New York to join neighboring states in ensuring students with dyslexia receive a free and appropriate education?

In the way they learn?

It’s time for parents to become strong advocates for their children!


What would you do if JR was your son?

Florence is the mother of an amazing teenager; an educational consultant, author, speaker, speech-language pathologist, encourager and perpetual optimist. She shares tips, tools and resources with mothers (and other caregivers) of struggling and/or failing children. She is fiercely committed to helping them develop and enhance their children's foundational skills for learning, to grow them to success in school and life. A believer in the unique learning abilities of all children, she is an advocate for those who learn differently.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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6 thoughts on “Is Testing More Important Than Reading?

    • I agree, Francene. The educational system is currently failing to help those children who learn differently.

      This boy was placed in a special education class because he has academic challenges. He is being taught at his level of functioning (hopefully using different strategies), with the goal of moving him closer to performing within what is considered normal limits for his age and grade. He is, however, expected to sit the state tests for his age and grade, even when not taught at that level.

      Absolute insanity!

  1. As a former high school math teacher – I can feel your pain. It often feels like legislatures with little or no practical educational experience are mandating standards. What would change if they were in the classroom for just a month?

    • Thanks for stopping by, Emilia. I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

      He is currently in a special education class and his teacher knows his limitations. Because the system mandates that even children who are functioning below their age- and grade-level sit the same tests as those who are, her hands are tied.

      The good news is that, when I alerted the principal, after her initial reluctance, she was able to secure permission to release JR from any further testing, this week. We’ll have to wait and see whether that permission will stand for the math tests next week.