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More Editorialists Genuflecting to Corporate Interests

Ohanian Comment: What a disgrace--when editorialists kneel down in front of the pronouncements of business interests and tell the public to do the same. More than one university professor has explained how inappropriate is the math content on the MCAS exit exam, tougher than math on the SAT.

For starters, the Boston Herald editorial staff should step up and take the exam--and publish their scores.

Raise MCAS bar now
By Boston Herald editorial staff
Monday, June 14, 2004

We extend our heartiest congratulations to the 96 percent of the class of 2004 high school seniors who passed the MCAS, the 95 percent who passed last year, and the 90 percent of this year's juniors who have already passed.

According to a new national study, these young people are now equipped with the math and English skills of a seventh, eighth and ninth grader.

We don't point this out to belittle the achievement of graduating with a diploma that means something, but to underscore that it ought to matter exactly what that diploma means.

Achieve, Inc., a Washington D.C.-based non-profit has now told us. And predictably, some educators are telling us to ignore them.

Achieve examined MCAS and standardized tests of five other states - Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio and Texas. Their conclusion? MCAS and the other high stakes tests ``are not pegged at a very demanding level,'' according to Achieve's president Mike Cohen.

``They're passing a test that enables them to earn a diploma but a diploma doesn't really mean they're ready to move on,'' Cohen added.

We shudder to think what grade-level skills students were graduating and moving on with before education reform and billions of new dollars spent.

As it is, Achieve's study points out that the math skills tested by the six states are taught in middle schools around the world. English questions are more akin to exams taken by eighth and ninth graders.

Billerica School Superintendent Robert Calabrese, presiding over a system where 100 percent of seniors have passed, laments, ``Why can't we just acknowledge that maybe public education is doing a good job. . .[not that] the test is too easy.''

Sure, why not sit on our laurels while students fall farther and farther behind in gaining the skill-sets needed to get a job in this global economy?

Education Commissioner David Driscoll wants to raise the passing score for MCAS slightly - to 230 points out of a 200 to 280 scale, instead of the current 220.

He's being too conservative. ``The truth is we have set a minimum standard,'' Driscoll's spokesperson said.

Raising the bar higher ought to be the Board of Education's most urgent priority.

— Editorial
Boston Herald





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