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[Susan notes: Excellent letter points to the specifics of a test question--something every reader can understand.]

Submitted to New York Times but not published
06/25/2003

To the editor



The sample Regents Mathematics Exam item requiring students to calculate to the tenth of an inch the length of a straw placed diagonally into arectangular box ("Scores of Math Test Are Set Aside," June 25) perfectly illustrates one of the many flaws of the current high-stakes testing craze.



How many college-educated adults can solve that problem accurately? Are such skills really necessary to be a productive member of our society?



Why then is New York State forcing every teenager to master questions like this to qualify for a high school diploma certifying basic academic

competence?



It's time for a comprehensive reappraisal of both the one-size-fits-all "standards" and the tests used to enforce these artificial requirements in

New York and across the nation. The role of the state should be to ensure schools evaluate each student's body of work fairly and well, not to impose high-stakes exams on individuals.



FairTest


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