Another letter to the ed committee
- To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
- Subject: Another letter to the ed committee
- From: George Sheridan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 16:44:59 -0700
As a 2nd grade teacher, George wrote a letter in support of AB 356,
focusing on the standardized testing of young children. As parents, we
wrote a joint letter, focusing on the High School Exit Exam. This letter is
mostly quotations from the National Academy of Sciences report on high
stakes testing. There are no new points, but you might find it useful to
quote such an authoritative source.
Honorable John Vasconcellos, Chair
Senate Committee on Education
State Capitol Room 2083
We urge your support for AB 356 (Hancock) as proposed to be amended. This
bill would eliminate state awards for test scores, would delay by two years
the requirement to pass the high school exit exam, and would eliminate STAR
testing of second graders.
We are the adoptive parents of two students in special education who will
never pass the High School Exit Exam. Our daughter graduated this month
from eighth grade, with a special award as the outstanding student in
special education in her school. All the adults who have worked with her
recognize her as courteous and hardworking. She already has many of the
skills necessary for academic success and for being a productive member of
society. However, she is unable to meet California's math requirements.
And, because of her handicapping conditions, she is unable to demonstrate
her abilities in reading and language within the narrow confines of the
Exit Exam. She is well aware that unless the law is changed she cannot earn
a diploma from a public high school in California.
We want to share with you some of the reasons why the state should defer
the date by which a passing score on the HSEE will be required, while
examining other measures that will give all students an opportunity to succeed.
High standards cannot be established and maintained merely by imposing them
on students. The National Academy of Sciences declared in its 1998 report,
"High Stakes: Testing for Tracking, Promotion, and Graduation," "It is a
mistake to begin educational reform by introducing tests with high stakes
for individual students. If tests are to be used for high-stakes decisions
about individual mastery, such use should follow implementation of changes
in teaching and curriculum that ensure that students have been taught the
knowledge and skills on which they will be tested."
The Academy formally recommended that "A test may appropriately be used to
lead curricular reform, but it should not also be used to make high-stakes
decisions about individual students until test users can show that the test
measures what they have been taught." This point is sufficiently well
understood that many advocates of the California High School Exit Exam
recommend postponing the effective date of the graduation requirement in
the hope that such a delay will protect the state from lawsuits it would
otherwise be almost certain to lose.
The Academy also recommended unequivocally that scores on exit exams not be
used as an absolute bar to graduation.
Recommendation: "Scores from large-scale assessments should never be the
only sources of information used to make a promotion or retention decision.
No single source of information - whether test scores, course grades, or
teacher judgments - should stand alone in making promotion decisions. Test
scores should always be used in combination with other sources of
information about student achievement." This point has not been fully
considered in California law to date.
The Academy report suggested a variety of alternatives to a single,
test-based graduation examination. One alternative would allow students to
offset a low score in one area with a high score in another. Another
approach would be to offer "endorsed" diplomas to students who have passed
a test without denying a diploma to those who have failed a graduation test
but completed all other requirements.
Recommendation: Students who cannot participate in a large-scale assessment
should have alternate ways of demonstrating proficiency.
Recommendation: Because a test score may not be a valid representation of
the skills and achievement of students with disabilities, high-stakes
decisions about these students should consider other sources of evidence
such as grades, teacher recommendations, and other examples of student work.
Recommendation: Development and implementation of alternative measures,
such as primary-language assessments.
Eventually, California law should conform to these recommendations. To
allow time for development of a statewide assessment and accountability
system appropriate for all students, we urge approval of AB 356.
George and Catherine Sheridan
4467 Meadowbrook Road
Garden Valley, California 95633
Post a Message to arn-l: