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[Susan notes: This is a dangerous argument. We don't want the purpose of schools posited as preparing students for college or work. Colleges (and employers) have always screamed about the lack of skills of entering college students and new employees. Take it with a huge pile of salt.]

Published in Boston Globe

To the editor

IT TOOK a 19-year-old community college student to explain the fallacy of MCAS testing that other ''experts" fail to understand: ''If I did enough to pass the MCAS," commented Jonathan Goddard, ''why couldn't I pass the assessment test?" (''Colleges question MCAS success," Page A1, June 26).

As educators who understand what takes place in a classroom can tell you, the overemphasis on standardized testing accomplishes only one thing: It makes students better at taking standardized tests such as the MCAS tests. While teachers and adminstrators are spending countless hours and dollars on helping kids do better on high-stakes tests, they are forced to redirect precious resources from activities that would help these students acquire the knowledge and thinking skills necessary to succeed in college.

The fact is that the landmark education reform law of 1993 to which Maria Sacchetti refers in the article has never been fully and faithfully implemented. This law called for a wide range of assessment measures among other even more significant changes in the public education system. Our educational leadership has chosen instead to focus entirely on one high-stakes testing regimen that does little to improve education. Even when it is evident that students are failing to gain skills needed to succeed in college, the leadership doesn't redirect resources toward educating but rather toward raising the test scores required on an already flawed test.

It seems to be a philosophy of ''If at first you don't succeed, keep doing what hasn't worked over and over." Seven years of high-stakes testing have shown that this is not a successful way to improve our children's education.

Mitch Finnegan

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