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[Susan notes: A fine letter--from Maine, where students have long scored well on standardized tests. So why are students being debased this way?]

Published in Kennebec Journal
03/30/2005

To the editor




I read the two articles by Colin Hickey in the March 12 Morning Sentinel with great interest. From the first article, I gathered that students are "adapting," feeling "like laboratory rats" and complying without much thought when it comes to being constantly evaluated.



In the second article, the assistant superintendent for Waterville schools gives his defense for the assessment craze that is swallowing up public education today. These two articles demonstrated the comical tragedy of the current reality in schools. While most students just acquiesce, administrators use language to cover instead of clarify.



The school administrator says, "I don't mind kids struggling in the short term, because it's their long-term welfare I'm looking at." Fine, but do we want children to grow up feeling like laboratory rats? Do we want them to just do it without thinking about it? Is this acceptable as long-term welfare for kids? I want students to be more inquisitive, engaged and mindful.



"Don't look for students to rebel," says Mr. Hickey. Why should students consider rebelling when adapting, acquiescing and obeying are what is rewarded in this game we call schooling?



This administrator believes that in this new system of assessments, even the students who fail to graduate "will have more knowledge and skills than past graduates had." Hah! My experience as a teacher speaks otherwise.



Among teachers at all grade levels, the prevailing thought and concern is that too many of our students are disengaged from their learning. More students are on medications for anxiety, depression or attention disorder than ever before.



The reality on the ground level is that the number of students who are underreaders, underwriters and underthinkers is increasing from year to year, not decreasing.



This reality warrants more doubt and concern, and less confidence and certainty.



Sebouh Der Simonian


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