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[Susan notes: Stephen explains: I live in the 50th Assembly District in California. There are three candidates running for the democratic nomination for the state assembly, and I have been unable to determine what their positions are about education, other than the fact that all three think that education is a good idea.]

Published in Santa Monica Daily Press
06/01/2012

To the editor



I have done my best to read all 50th Assembly District candidates' positions on education. None have discussed what I consider to be the most important issue: California's acceptance of the Common Core Standards and Tests for language arts and math.



Are any of the candidates aware of what this will mean? Our students are already deluged with tests thanks to No Child Left Behind, as well as additional tests required by the state (e.g. the High School Exit Examination). We now test reading and math, but there are plans to add history and science. We now test students only at the end of the school year, but there are plans to add "interim tests," tests given during the course of the year.



There is also interest in measuring improvement, which could mean pre-tests given in the fall, and there is discussion of expanding testing to the lower grades, starting at kindergarten. All of these tests will be closely linked to very rigorous (I would say brutal) standards, making individualization and creative teaching nearly impossible.



There is no evidence that any of this will improve educational attainment. In fact, there is good evidence that it won't: The research tell us that adding standardized tests does not even improve performance on standardized tests.



This increase in testing is going to cost a lot of money. The new tests will be administered online, which means every student has to be connected to the Internet. According to the NY Times last year, New York City was planning to budget over a half billion just to connect all students to the Internet so they could take the new tests. We will be increasing expenditures on testing while firing teachers due to lack of funds.



It isn't too late to stop all this. I will support the candidate who pledges to take a good look at this issue.

Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus, USC


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