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NCLB Outrages

Here Is How Students Are Pressured to Take the State Test

A Berkeley parent sent this teacher note to the Assessment Reform Network list. The note went out to all parents of Berkeley High students. The parent wrote, "I am appalled by this."

NOTE: California allows parents to opt their students out of state tests. The letter writer is a Berkeley High School English teacher. The guilty remains anonymous because of cloudy legalities about e-mail.

Posing the argument that kids should take tests so that they can continue to have field trips seems unique as well as fraudulent. How about joining Educator Roundtable and eliminating NCLB, teaching students about citizen acttivism, instead of teaching them how to be passive victims?

Subject: [BHS etree] ADMIN: State Testing Period - Encourage Students to Take the Test

Dear Parents,

As you know, next week (Tuesday through Friday) students will be
in taking federal- and state-mandated testing in keeping with No Child
Left Behind legislation. For the last four years, many BHS students
cut school or come with letters from parents excusing them from the
process. I am writing to ask that you not only refrain from excusing
children from taking the test but that you actively encourage your
children to take the test. I say this, not as a proponent of
testing, but as one who cares enough about Berkeley High School and
students to have spent 16 years working here.

When this particular brand of testing started in California, it was
aligned with state standards; this meant that students would often be
tested on materials they had not learned. Fortunately, this is no
true. That means that the test can indeed function in a useful manner:
teachers, students and parents can determine how effective Berkeley
teachers are in teaching to the standards. Since the data is
disaggregated, we can use it to see how well we are teaching each
on campus. The data we gain can help us make decisions about what we
and how we do it. But there are other benefits as well: students can
gain valuable practice taking standardized tests. As you know, most
colleges require the SAT or ACT, most professional schools require the
GRE (the Graduate Record Exam), and many professions require
tests of some sort.

As always, one can accentuate the positive, as I have just done... or
consider the negatives... negatives which are considerable. If 95% of
BHS students do not take the test, we can be forced to spend valuable
resources (of time and money) on federally mandated "improvements"
will not make us a better school. We will lose the right to use our
resources and focus our energies on the priorities that we identify.
Instead of writing grants to provide field trips or teach newer texts,
teachers will be forced to fill out surveys and other forms of

Help us help your children and help us help ourselves by sending your
children to school to take the tests! Of course, I will be offering a
student incentive: students who attend each day of testing may
eliminate a
grade on one major assignment this marking period.

Thanks in advance for your cooperation.

— Teacher e-mail
ARN list


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