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Why Our Son Won't Attend STAR Tutoring Sessions

Publication Date: 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.

Sincerely,

Stephen Cary and Andrea Kevech
3608 Reposo Way
Belmont, CA 94002
phone: 650-595-1833
email: stephencary@earthlink.net

cc:
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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