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[Susan notes:

This letter points to facts Standardisto newspaper editorialists prefer to ignore: high-stakes testing achieves nothing more than the disruption and destruction of students' lives. ]

Published in Boston Globe
07/01/2003

To the editor

WHILE Massachusetts leaders pat themselves on the back for the gains made by fourth graders on the National Assessment of Educational Progress reading test (''Mass. 4th-graders No. 1 in reading, City & Region, June 20), some very strong cautions are in order:



First, there was no overall score gain at Grade 8, despite years of focus on the MCAS tests. Children may be learning to read earlier, but

the state is no closer to the real goal, that students should read with deep comprehension in later grades and when they leave school.



Second, we have not gotten more Grade 8 students to the proficient level. Under federal law, all students must score proficient on MCAS by 2014. While NAEP is not MCAS, the NAEP results suggest that most of the state's schools will fail to meet this mandate and end up labeled in

need of improvement. As a result, many will be subject to severe sanctions.



Finally, students in nearby Maine, Vermont, and Connecticut score just as well as Massachusetts students at Grade 8, but our neighbors do not

require their students to pass a test like MCAS to graduate. Contrary to official mythology, students and schools can do as well without the

destructive penalty of a graduation test.

Lisa Guisbond


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