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[Susan notes: Stephen Krashen's letter shows that the battle in Los Angeles is our battle. There should be similar battles in every school district in America. THIS would be the appropriate way to celebrate Independence Day: Just Say No to High-Stakes Standardized Tests.]

Published in Rethinking Schools
07/04/2009

To the editor

Sarah Knopp's Boycott: Los Angeles Teachers Say No to More Testing
is the best and most concise summary of the arguments against excessive and inappropriate testing I have ever read: The "periodic assessments" required in LAUSD are written by distant strangers, not by professional educators who understand the children and work with them daily, they are not aligned with instruction, the
results come too late to do any good, there is already too much standardized testing, they rob an enormous amount of time from instruction (the estimate is one month a year), and the tests cost a lot of money (for LAUSD, 100 million a year). As noted on the UTLA website, there is no evidence that the periodic tests increase performance.

The same is true of many other standardized tests: According to research, high school exit exams do not result in improved academic
achievement. In addition, 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. In fact, researchers have yet to discover any benefits of having a high school exit exam. California spends about $250 million each year just for remedial instruction for this exam, as well as millions for administration and scoring.

And of course there is no evidence that the testing hysteria known as NCLB has done any good (see academic papers by Bruce Fuller and Jaekyung Lee and their and colleagues).

None of us are opposed to assessment. We are opposed to the excessive and inappropriate assessment that has changed the nature of schooling in the US. When Herbert Kohl asked elementary school children what they were learning about in school, students told Kohl they were "learning how to do good on the tests" ("Open Letter to Arne Duncan," Summer 2009).

In addition to vastly improving our educational system, dumping bad and unnecessary tests would undoubtedly alleviate a substantial part of the current financial crisis in education. Unfortunately, it looks like Arne Duncan's plans for national standards and national tests in all subjects will make things a lot worse.

Stephen Krashen


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