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[Susan notes: Here's a good summary--and evidence--that retention harms kids.]

Published in Philadelphia Daily News

To the editor

ELMER SMITH is right: The Bush administration's test-driven education plan will leave many Philadelphia school children behind (column, March 5).

But there is a more immediate threat to them: schools CEO Paul Vallas' scheme to base promotion on test scores.

Every major organization of testing experts agrees that educational decisions should not be based on results from a single exam. The Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing, the National Academy of Sciences and the test publishers agree. Despite this, Vallas implemented test-based grade retention in Chicago.

For years, research has demonstrated that grade retention does not produce academic improvement, hurts children psychologically and increases the dropout rate. Independent studies have also shown that Vallas' retention policy failed in Chicago. Students who were retained did not show academic gains two years later. They were less likely to be successful than similar students who had been promoted in the past. And the dropout rate increased for younger students.

Monty Neill, Executive Director, FairTest

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