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[Susan notes: This letter talks about things the public can understand--simply, clearly, and forcefully.]

Submitted to Austin-American Statesman but not published

To the editor

Protect students from the effect of poverty, pay for it by reducing testing: Feed the animal, don't just weigh it. The Statesman claims ( For the good of students compromise on STAAR exam that TAKS "exposed educational gaps between minority and white students and between lower and higher income students." But we have known about the impact of poverty on school achievement for decades. We also know that a major cause of low minority student performance is that many live in poverty.

Poverty means poor diet, inferior healthcare, and poor access to books; each has a devastating impact on school performance. We are always interested in improving teaching, but even the best teaching has limited effects when students are hungry, ill, or have little to read.

An obvious step is to protect students from the impact of poverty: improve food programs and medical care, invest more in school libraries. We can pay for much of this by reducing testing, keeping only tests shown to be helpful. If we do this, we will be feeding the animal, not just weighing it.

Stephen Krashen

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