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[Susan notes: According to MCAS pushers, an Essential Question is:



A question whose answer will indicate an overarching understanding, stress higher level thinking skills and drive the student̢۪s participation in the unit of study.



As Jacob's letter indicates, essential questions drive students to despair.]

Published in South Coast Today
10/09/2007

To the editor





MCAS hinders student learning



This has gone way too far. MCAS has taken over schools across the state,

especially mine. I am a student at the Hastings Middle School in Fairhaven,

and I just can't take this anymore.



Since our school received bad scores, there have been a whole lot of

changes, and most of them for the worse. For example, in every single class

we have a question that we have to answer in a paragraph just to prepare us

for MCAS. This was in art class. Come on! In art class, we have to write a

paragraph?



School and learning has taken a back seat to this MCAS testing. Teachers

can't teach freely, and students can't learn as much as they would if there

was no testing at all.



Before MCAS, teachers and students didn't have to worry about these things,

like preparing for a test or meeting a curriculum. You just learned for the

sake of learning and bettering yourself. It's just not fair to me and all

the other students to have to learn like this. We go to school to learn, not

to learn what MCAS tells us to learn.



I am not saying that everything about the MCAS is wrong, but it shouldn't

control our learning completely. Come on! We have to answer an "essential

question" in gym, too. It's just unnecessary.



Also, because of MCAS, this year things like Spanish took a back seat. We

have hour-long periods, so there are fewer classes. So classes like Spanish

are every other day.



Those are just a couple of examples, but it's just spun out of control.



I bet that the adults that read this would think I am so wrong, but believe

me, if you went back to school and did everything that this generation is

doing, you wouldn't like it, and you would be in the same position I am - a

very angry person. It's sickening that the mistakes of adults will alter my

life, and people need to realize that a mistake in education is a mistake

that will have a bad affect on everyone's life and future.



Jacob Miller


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