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'Reforms Need More Time'

November 11, 1987

In order to understand what is going on in public education, accurate information is necessary. Your editorial "Reforms Need More Time" (Nov. 3) contained an error. You must have confused Hamilton High School with the Hamilton Humanities Magnet. Hamilton High's reading scores are not in the top 10. Instead, it is the Hamilton Humanities Magnet that has scored in the top 10.

In addition, the most recent test scores of the California Assessment Program rank the Hamilton Humanities Magnet 38th in the state. Your mistake is understandable as the Humanities Magnet is part of the Hamilton High School complex.

We are, so far as standardized testing and curriculum is concerned, separate from Hamilton High School. Our program does not exist as an exercise in public relations for Hamilton High. We have our own identity.

Your editorial seems to argue that it is too early to tell if reforms have had a positive effect. Yet your use of Franklin and Hamilton high schools as examples of improvement suggests another argument: that improvement has, in fact, been the result of the reforms enacted by the Legislature.

Whatever the case may be, making judgments based primarily on standardized test scores is flawed. There is considerable evidence that standardized tests are a pathetic means of measuring a school's effectiveness. Furthermore, standardized test scores poorly analyzed, ensure that no one has a clear idea of what works.

Understanding the Hamilton Humanities Magnet's academic success takes far deeper research than glancing at a few defective test scores.

What is clearly evident from the scores, taken as a whole, is that the "crisis in education" is still with us. Every year we graduate the vast majority of our senior class in the Los Angeles Unified School District with average reading levels near the 8th grade. Large numbers of students pass through our schools with little knowledge of the English language, geography, literature, our eclectic cultural heritage, mathematics, science or the ability to think critically. Close to 40% of our students drop out.

Year after year we play irresponsible political games with our educational system.

Every year one more class of students is condemned to intellectual meagerness and financial desperation. If we continue on as we have, we will ensure that the vast majority of our population is deprived of the skills that make life most worth living.

GREGG BEYTIN

ALAN KAPLAN

Hamilton Humanities Magnet

Los Angeles

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