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[Susan notes: We can all be grateful for Lisa's perseverance. She writes 20 letters for the one that gets published. And she nails the Globe's duplicity.]

Published in Boston Globe

To the editor

SAYING THE canary class has flown, the Globe says that MCAS has been an unmitigated success ("Keeping the MCAS promise," editorial, Oct. 6).

This conclusion is based on MCAS pass rates, which, according to the Department of Education, have reached 95 percent for the Class of 2003.

Reader beware, if the sales pitch seems too good to be true, it probably is. Based on the Department of Education's raw data, not spin, the

graduation rate is less than 75 percent -- that is, one in four students leaves the public schools without a diploma. For unblindered observers of the MCAS record, another canary metaphor is more apt. Thousands of canaries are suffocating in the mine shaft, with dramatically rising levels of suspensions and expulsions, increasing student retention and attrition, increasing ninth grade dropout rates, a decline in dropouts returning to school, and a decline in graduation rates, according to Anne Wheelock, a Boston College researcher.

Those most affected by MCAS's negative consequences are low-income minority students, English language learners, and special needs

students. The high-stakes MCAS has resulted in a narrow curriculum designed to boost test scores in the two tested subjects, to the detriment of science, social studies, art, music, and physical

education. The narrowing has been most intense in low-income, urban districts, where students are least likely to be able to supplement this

impoverished version of a public education with extracurricular activities that would enhance their ability to go to college.

After hearing from many constituents, educators, special education advocates, and testing experts, the Legislature is poised to pass a modest bill that would mitigate the one-size-fits-all MCAS unfairness toward disabled students. Rather than acknowledge any evidence that conflicts with its devotion to the MCAS as the magic bullet for public education, the Globe swats at the Legislature's small step toward fairness.

Lisa Guisbond

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