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[Susan notes: Here's a letter that makes a strong case for parents opting children out of the tests.]

Published in Daily Breeze
05/07/2003

To the editor

My child is not taking the STAR tests, is yours?

Dear Editor:

I encourage my fellow parents to exempt their children from taking the useless STAR/CAT-6 standardized tests. State Law allows a parent to excuse their student from these tests with a simple note to their principal. Standardized tests have no impact on college admissions and do not benefit student learning. In fact, countless studies indicate that an emphasis on high-stakes testing may harm a child’s education.

Norm-reference tests, like the STAR, are designed to rank schools, not measure student learning. 50% of all students taking the test MUST FAIL! Countless millions are wasted on this nonsense, yet the test makers routinely fail to produce accurate scores. Valuable instructional time is squandered preparing for the tests and creative classroom activities are sacrificed. Learning and teaching is abandoned during testing weeks. 2nd graders are expected to endure long testing sessions across many days.

Insanity rules. Teachers are responsible for score increases, yet are prohibited from seeing the tests. Parents are denied the right to see their children’s answers. These tests of random trivia do not measure what is taught in local schools.

I trust teachers who know my child best to assess their educational progress. Creative professional educators are being reduced to drill sergeants and script-wielding robots. The STAR tests turn learning into a blood sport valuing competition over collaboration. Half of all kids must be losers.

School personnel may even receive bonuses for substantial score increases. Principled teachers in some schools have refused this “blood money” or used their bonus to educate the community about the dangers of standardized testing.

Please vote for educational excellence by excusing your child from the upcoming testing. More information may be found at www.pencilsdown.org

Gary Stager


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