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[Susan notes: Leslie's son's story is a heartbreaker, but he is fortunate that she values what she knows about him, not what the State tells her about him.]

Published in Herald News (Massachusetts)

To the editor

Dear Editor,

Is my 17-year-old son a success or a failure? On one hand, he failed his fourth MCAS math retest by two points. My local newspaper's editorials, along with Worcester's Superintendent of Schools and the state education commissioner have said that students who fail the MCAS are not really trying. He will be denied a high school diploma, will not be welcome at any community college, nor in the armed services.(70)

On the other hand, when he came to live with us at 14 and was failing 8th grade, he worked hard for the last 3 weeks of the school year and ended up passing, graduating from middle school. He has walked away from many confrontations both at school and outside of school. He has pulled himself back from the lure of gang membership many times. He has stayed away from drugs and alcohol. He is a respected part-time employee at a local fast-food restaurant. He has complied with our drumbeat - get that high school diploma, we urged! - because he "got" how important it was to the rest of his life. He has passed enough courses to graduate high school, and has a good attendance record. He overcame the pain of MCAS failure three times and studied hard to take a fourth MCAS math test. By working hard with a private tutor, he raised his score by a whopping nine points.

I leave it to you, readers, and education policy makers. Is my son a success or a failure?

Leslie J. Linson

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