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[Susan notes: The vivid imagery gives this letter a real punch--and speaks to the reality of exit tests.]

Published in Sacramento Bee
05/04/2006

To the editor

Re "Another look at state's testing standards," commentary, April 23: When I was a child, my parents raised chickens. When some of the newly hatched chicks appeared slow to mature or unsteady, we pinched their heads off.



We will soon have a large number of students who will be unable - for one or more reasons - to pass the high school exit exam. Since we probably won't dispatch them as we do chickens, these "failures" will remain in our communities and will be continuing problems.



What if we just dropped our arbitrary standards and devoted our efforts to teaching and motivating children to learn as much as each child is able to learn? In that way, we could have a system of no child left behind and no child held back. What then would a high school diploma mean? I think it would mean that we had done the best job teaching and motivating children instead of blaming them and attempting to dispose of them.



James Powell


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