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Why Our Son Won't Attend STAR Tutoring Sessions

Posted: 2003-04-02

Here, parents explain why extra tutoring sessions aren't about helping students become better readers at all--and look who gets a copy of their letter.

March 31, 2003

Andrea Jenoff, Principal

Carlmont High School

1400 Alameda de las Pulgas

Belmont, CA 94002-3535

Dear Ms. Jenoff:

Thanks for inviting our son, Brian Cary, to Carlmont?s STAR test tutoring sessions on reading. The invitation reminded us how important strong literacy skills are for students, which is exactly why Brian will NOT be attending a single session.

If we thought the tutoring would help Brian become a better reader, for example, improve his ability to activate prior knowledge, make

text-to-self and text-to-text connections, create visual images from text, make inferences, synthesize information, or make critical judgments about author intent and bias, he might be attending. If the sessions focused on those skills and also developed them using whole engaging text, rather than the disembodied brain-numbing passages of standardized exams, Brian would be there for sure.

Forgive our cynicism, but in these times of high-stakes testing, we believe the extra tutoring sessions aren't about helping students become

better readers at all; they?re about raising the test scores and making Carlmont look good in the eyes of those parents, realtors, board members,

and legislators who believe test scores-- and only test scores-- are the true measure of a school?s worth. Most seasoned educators know better. They know that authentic assessments like projects, portfolios, and teacher-developed performance-based tests, provide far more reliable and useful information about how well teachers are teaching and how well students are learning.

Unfortunately, the pressure to 'raise those scores!' is substantial and unrelenting. Large numbers of administrators and teachers have caved in, stripped the curriculum of much of its meaning and depth, and have turned many of our public schools into little more than test prep centers. Carlmont appears to be going the same direction.

We will encourage Brian to do his best on the STAR test. If he helps Carlmont raise those all-important scores, fine. But we won?t have him

waste his valuable time at the STAR tutoring sessions. Instead, he'll be doing something far more profitable: playing badminton or reading a good book.


Stephen Cary and Andrea Kevech

3608 Reposo Way

Belmont, CA 94002

phone: 650-595-1833

email: stephencary@earthlink.net


Lynn Bailey, Instructional Vice Principal, Carlmont

Joni Gordon, Administrative Vice Principal, Carlmont

Raul Zamora, Administrative Vice Principal, Carlmont

Gail Langkusch, English Dept. Chair, Carlmont

Karen Reynolds, English Teacher, Carlmont

Wendy Goeking, PTSA President, Carlmont

Christian Lester, PTSA First Vice President, Carlmont

Kerin Garrett, PTSA Second Vice President, Carlmont

Nan Harrington, PTSA, Carlmont

Teresa Boynton, PTSA, Carlmont

Patrick Gemma, Superintendent, Sequoia Union HS District

Don Gibson, Board Member, Sequoia Union HS District

Gordon Lewin, Board Member, Sequoia Union HS District

Olivia Martinez, Board Member, Sequoia Union HS District

Lorraine Rumley, Board Member, Sequoia Union HS District

Sally Stewart, Board Member, Sequoia Union HS District

John Mehl, San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools

Susan Larramendy, San Mateo County Associate Superintendent

Jack O'Connell, State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Reed Hastings, President, California State Board of Education

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