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Re: More on Public Agenda's Public Fraud

At 01:41 PM 3/6/2002 -0500, Bob Schaeffer wrote:
A fair and accurate summary of the responses gathered by Public Agenda
would lead to the conclusion that, while there is strong support for
higher academic standards, teachers and parents are ambivalent about the
emphasis on high-stakes testing, which the group so fervently backs. The
precise answer one gets from the public depends very much on how the
question is asked. (By the way, this is totally consistent with the
feedback FairTest received when we ran focus groups a couple years ago).

The actual data from the Public Agenda survey is also consistent with CTA's
survey of California teachers, which I reported on February 27 ("What
teachers think about high stakes tests").

The following information is excerpted from the written testimony of Wayne
Johnson, president of the California Teachers Association, on
"The Impact of High Stakes Testing on Teaching Methodologies," Joint
Hearing of Assembly Education and Higher Education, Wednesday, February 27,

A vast majority of teachers - 74% - believe that the kind of teaching that
will boost these test scores is not the kind that best encourages student
learning. That's what our teachers have told us via a statewide poll on the
impact of the assessment program.

Moreover, 70 percent of teachers believe that the STAR test discourages the
teaching of analytical skills because those skills do not generate higher
test scores.

Teachers also believe that the STAR program pressures them to change their
lesson plans and teach to the test. Eighty-eight percent feel pressure to
raise test scores. A full 70 percent of members reported that they felt
pressure to change their classroom plans in order to teach to the test.

Nearly three quarters - 72 percent - believe the test reduces the amount of
material taught because teachers are encouraged to teach toward the test.

Even with all of this emphasis on the test, an overwhelming majority, 82
percent, of teachers believe that the STAR is not a successful motivator
for student achievement. Only 10 percent agree that the testing program
encourages students to be enthusiastic learners.

Teachers also believe the STAR program is potentially unfair to minority
students. Eighty-two percent of teachers agree the program does not reflect
students' experiences, particularly the experiences of language and ethnic
minority students. Sixty-eight percent of members believe exit exams are
inappropriate for students with limited English skills who have mastered
the material in their own language. Nearly two thirds - 64 percent - agree
that the test specifically narrows instruction for minority and
lower-income students by focusing on subjects that are likely to be on the

Members believe the test is harmful to the instructional program. Sixty-two
percent of members agree that the test reduces the overall quality of the
instructional program. A full 69 percent of members agree that the test
diverts resources away from instructional materials and into test
preparation materials.

Half of members (53 percent) agree that the system widens the gap between
the quality of education provided to poor children and more privileged
children (38 percent disagree).

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