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Forcing Standardized Tests on Diverse Kids



The The Editor
Sandy Banks' upbeat piece today on testing makes a profound point about
what's wrong with them. Her daughter picks three wrong answers on a
reading test--all for excellent reasons. Banks says, "though the answer
sheet tells me she's wrong all three times, I feel I'm watching
intelligence in action." Not only is she indeed watching intelligence,
but that's the ONLY way to see it: in conversation with the child. No
multiple-choice test can tell you WHY a child picked the answer she did,
and therefore, it also can't tell you if her reasoning is good. It only
cares about what somebody thinks is the one "right" answer.

Banks realizes that these tests really test middle-classness, which is
why a school's scores nearly always match its poverty ranking.
She makes the very good suggestion to "give every parent whose child
takes an exam a spin with a sample of test questions." I'd add, give
every legislator a spin with the real tests.

Banks ends by "thank[ing] goodness our lives, unlike our schools, are
judged on more than how we do on any single test, on any given day."
Would that were so, but children are being flunked, teachers are being
rewarded or punished, and California's new High School Exit Exam will
keep children from graduating--based on a single test score. It's time
for all of us to resist the madness. Go to CalCARE.org.

Susan Harman
CalCARE (California Coalition for Authentic Reform in Education)
4114 39th Avenue
Oakland, CA 94619
510-482-2856

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