Post says delay no more on HST's
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- Subject: Post says delay no more on HST's
- From: "Sue Allison" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Tue, 2 Sep 2003 09:50:06 -0400
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Back to School Testing
Tuesday, September 2, 2003; Page A20
FACED WITH the prospect of flunking as much as half of the senior class, state school officials have postponed the implementation of high-stakes testing in Maryland. Originally the plan was to require students graduating in 2007 -- this year's ninth-graders -- to pass exams in algebra, government, English and biology before receiving high school diplomas. These are all courses taken in the first years of high school, or even in middle school, and students would have had several opportunities to pass them.
Nevertheless, after reading the results of exams taken last spring, the state school superintendent, Nancy S. Grasmick, has asked the state Board of Education to push back the date to 2009 so that this year's seventh graders will be the first required to meet the standards if they want to graduate. This is a decision that may be merited at the moment -- but it must not be repeated.
True, Maryland is right to be cautious. In other states, notably Florida and New York, students who have recently taken exams without receiving adequate preparation failed in large numbers. If teachers are not yet teaching classes of sufficient sophistication, if children have not before been asked to take tests at that level, it isn't right to force them to take tests whose results so greatly affect their futures. As other states have done, Maryland will also have to face the problem of students with learning disabilities, poor English or other problems that prevent them from passing the tests. They must be given special help and repeated chances, or perhaps offered some kind of alternative qualification.
At the same time, there is a risk that continued postponement of high-stakes testing will defeat the purpose of the exams. The ultimate goal, after all, is not just that students pass tests but that they graduate from high school with the analytical skills necessary to prosper in an ever more competitive world. Teachers and school administrators should not view the postponement as an opportunity to relax but as an opportunity to design tougher courses, to push students harder and to create an atmosphere that allows them to succeed. Children should be the beneficiaries of a testing regime, not its victims.
© 2003 The Washington Post Company
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