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[Susan notes: Excellent point.]

Published in New York Post

To the editor

The Post's complaint about high school grads not being ready for college ( Spotlight on failure, April 21) is part of a proud tradition that goes back over 100 years.

More than half of Harvard freshmen failed the entrance exam in 1874. As a result of an analysis

of essays written in 1894, the Harvard Board of Overseers criticized high school writing teachers for the poor performance of the students. In 1930, Thomas Biggs of Teachers College wrote that high school English classes resulted in written English that was "in a large fraction of cases shocking in their evidence of inadequate achievement."

If we believe these reports, our high school students were terrible in 1874 and have been getting even worse ever since. Another interpretation is that there has been no decline in performance, that we have always been expecting too much, and are, for some reason, over-eager to scold students and their schools.

Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus, USC

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