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[Susan notes: Krashen definitely hits a core. We can hope that Californians are ready for advice on how to save money.]

Published in Santa Monica Daily Press
05/26/2009

To the editor





A reasonable plan for dealing with California's budget crisis is to

stop spending money where it doesn't do any good. I have three

recommendations.



The first is to consider eliminating the High School Exit Exam.

California spends about $250 million each year just for remedial

instruction for this exam, and millions more for administration and

scoring.



Recent research done by scholars at Indiana University has shown that

state high school exit exams do not lead to more college completion,

higher employment, or higher earnings by graduates. Researchers at UC

Davis and the University of Minnesota have reported that exit exams do

not result in improved academic achievement. In fact, researchers have

yet to discover any benefits of having a High School Exit Exam.



Second, as proposed by State Sen. Loni Hancock, let's re-examine the

issue of requiring standardized testing of children in second grade,

which is not required by federal law.



Is there any evidence that this test does anybody (except test

publishers) any good? Does it supply information to teachers that is

not available in other forms? Most likely, our teachers are much

better at evaluating students than are strangers miles away, some of

whom have never spent a day in a room with 7-year-olds.



Third, stop testing fitness in schools using expensive and

time-consuming tests. California tests children in grades five, seven,

and nine using the Fitnessgram, which costs at least $300 per school

(about $3,000,000 for the entire state). The test consists of pushups,

sit-ups, and a mile run, and measures flexibility and body fat.



To get children to pass, PE must devote time to sit-ups, pushups, and

running. This is a threat to the idea that a major goal of PE is to

introduce children to a variety of sports to encourage them to become

fit for life in enjoyable ways.



There is, of course, plenty of evidence relating exercise to physical

and mental health, but none that I know of related specifically to

testing children using this tool.



If we decide to eliminate the High School Exit Exam, stop giving

high-stakes tests to second graders, and stop using the Fitnessgram,

we would save a lot of money, and save valuable time for students and

teachers. Also, these steps might inspire similar steps for additional

savings.

Stephen Krashen


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