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Re: turning the tables

Orignially, I was just a bit confused about the ARN listserv (I get confused
a lot). Anyway, yes, I'm glad I stayed on.
Re: Mass...wow, it really does sound nasty. Back here in Minnesota, Joe
Nathan did a 180 and is now in opposition to high-stakes. He and the Center
for School Change has even apparently come up with it's own guidelines for
testing. They're not as good as the guidelines that were recently in the
lead opinion piece at the beginning of Phi Delta Kappan (Oct. or Nov. 2000),
but it's nice to see that he is on board. I do remain a bit suspicious as
to why he did a 180 in about six months and how he was able to also author a
study on the subject during that same time period. Oh, well must be a
Minnesota Miracle (as opposed to a Texas Miracle).
I presented on grade retention/social promotion at the NASP convention in
Florida in 1986 and in Boston in 1988. I probably should have tried to have
the paper published. Anyway, in a sort of "Oh, by the way" context, I
referred to "minimum competency testiing" and said that in states where they
had such testing, far more kids repeated grades and dropped out of school.
I never dreamed back then that we'd see the likes of the current testing
craze that we're in. If it didn't have such negative side-effects, it would
be humorous...the anal-retentive, obsessive-compulsive aspect of it.
However, I can see that in Mass., it's not very humorous at all.
You're right about targeting the most vulnerable in our society. That is
one reason I got so upset with Joe Nathan. He explained to me that a person
could do just fine in our society WITHOUT a high school diploma. Yah,
right. I suppose if you're Jim Carrey, the actor, but the rest of us
pluggers need the diploma. I sort of lost it with Nathan at that point and
just went a bit ballistic. Maybe that and his respect for Sen. Wellstone is
what changed his mind; he still has a Wellstone bumper sticker even though
Wellstone last ran in 1996.
Peace, joy and happiness,

From: Dave Stratman <Newdem@AOL.COM>
Reply-To: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
Subject: Re: turning the tables
Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2001 15:44:51 EST

Hi, Mike--

Thanks for your comments. I'm glad you enjoyed the background regarding the
Minnesota Business Partnership.

While the language of "A Nation at Risk" was overblown and
it was based on a false premise--I guess I don't actually see the
"declaration of war" rhetoric as overblown when it is used to describe high
stakes testing like the MCAS. I mean, the tests are having such devastating
effects on so many kids and families and teachers. Boston (I think I
understand this correctly) has already experienced a 30% increase in its
drop-out rate in the last few years, apparently due to students becoming
convinced that they'll never pass MCAS. This level of suffering imposed on
the most vulnerable people in our society is really like a declaration of
war--though in this case, in view of the corporate role in high stakes
testing, it's class war.

Anyway, I'm glad that you're still with us.

Dave Stratman
Editor, New Democracy
5 Burr Street
Boston, MA 02130

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