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[Susan notes: The writer offers a great proposal: Let the public take the MCAS at various levels--the whole test--not just staged samples. Some years back, Massachusetts teachers brought sample questions on literary devices to a session at the NCTE convention. Nobody in the room, specialists in English, could answer the questions.

But Steve Krashen offers a warning. "I think the spin will be that those English teachers are really dumb - they need to study harder.

"Suzanne Choumitsky’s proposal that adults take the
MCAS is a great idea, but it can backfire. I am sure
that many highly competent adults will not do well on
tests designed for fourth and eighth graders, because
of the often foolish, vague, and esoteric test
questions. But if adults’ scores are low, it will be
interpreted as showing that they are really
incompetent and need to study hard to remedy their
weaknesses. In other words, it will be assumed that
the tests are valid, and what is needed is constant
test prep and regular testing of the entire population
all the time, a dream come true for McGraw-Hill.

Maybe we should only require the president, the
secretary of education, the governer and the state
superintendent of education to take the tests.]

Published in Boston Globe
10/08/2006

To the editor

I read your article (``Education is a partnership of many," Globe South,

Sept. 28) with interest. I agree with points that you made and thank you for

your fair observations about the recent federal evaluations, based upon MCAS

scores.



I am concerned about the jump from 420 to 617 in Massachusetts public and

charter schools that failed to meet federal standards this year, and the

additional 63 schools in our region now labeled as ``underperforming" and

placed on the federal watch list.



As a parent and taxpayer, however, this increasing trend of failure causes

me to question the validity of the MCAS tests.



With so much attention, intervention, and costly improvements in realigning

curriculum and textbooks over the past seven or more years, why do we now

see many more schools failing the mark?



Our money is being used to train our children to take a specific set of

tests each year. To do this, we have sacrificed well-rounded educational

opportunities that used to include art, physical education, music, school

libraries, afterschool activities, and many creative, experiential learning

opportunities that could fire the imagination and talents of our students.



I would like to see an offer for the public to take the MCAS at various

grade levels. I would like adults with years of experience and education,

such as college degrees, business expertise, and other income-producing

skills, have the opportunity to be graded on MCAS. I would happily take the

test.



I wonder if most adults might fail. I would like to see the graphs that

compare adult scores to children's scores. I have a hunch that we might find

large numbers of successful adults defined as ``needing improvement" or

``underperforming," despite their education, training, and ability to

produce in our ever-changing economy.

Suzanne Choumitsky


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