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[Susan notes: Thanks to Lisa Guisbond for bringing attention to the issue that remains unacknowledged, even buried: students pushed out of school. We are going to pay a heavy price for our failure to help these students thrive.]

Published in Boston Herald

To the editor

The number of high school dropouts in Massachusetts has grown more than 30

percent in four years. The state just acknowledged that the rate climbed

again in 2004-05, as it has each year since MCAS became a graduation

requirement. The number grew to 11,145 in 2004-05, from 8,422 in 2001-02.

That means we have 2,723 more students without diplomas.

Sadly, state policymakers defend their high-stakes MCAS more vigorously

than they do students who leave school ("Let's enhance MCAS efficiency,"

Nov. 20). The Department of Education dismissed the increase as slight,

downplaying the upward trend.

The answer is not more spin designed to conceal the dropout problem from

the public, but more resources and better policies to increase high schools'

ability to hold onto their students: Eliminate the test-based graduation

requirement, help students progress on time through the grades and improve

school climate to reduce truancy. If Massachusetts does not change its

policies, we will all face the costs and consequences of having tens of

thousands more dropouts.

Lisa Guisbond, Policy Analyst

National Center for Fair and Open Testing,

Lisa Guisbond

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