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[Susan notes: The letter writer makes a great point about why some students choose the GED route.]

Submitted to New York Times but not published

To the editor

ou suggest that increasing numbers of teenagers are taking G.E.D. diplomas in part to avoid the increasing numbers of standardized tests imposed by states and by the federal No Child Left Behind law (news article, May 15).

But perhaps these kids aren't looking for an easy shortcut. Perhaps many are voting with their feet after realizing what their better teachers already know: that the testing craze turns high school into endless test preparation at the expense of learning.

When school has degenerated into testing, why not take one test and be done with it?

Years ago, I dropped out of high school on my 16th birthday and took a G.E.D., freeing me to go on to college without enduring two more years of dreary rote learning in high school. It was one of the wisest decisions I ever made.

Today, with the increase in standardized testing and mandated homework assignments at the expense of creative teaching, it would be an even wiser decision.

Livermore, Calif., May 15, 2004

The writer is a computational physicist at Sandia National Laboratories.

Kevin Long

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