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Controversy Over CLAS Tests

May 06, 1994

* According to your April 22 article about the Antelope Valley Union High School District's refusal to administer the CLAS tests, the groups who oppose the test charge, among other things, that a question asking students to write about a school rule they disagree with encourages children "to defy authority." Therefore, to prevent California's children from learning to defy authority, these critics are urging school boards and administrators to defy state law by refusing to administer the test. Did I miss something?

As an educator, I firmly believe in teaching children to think for themselves, a process which often includes questioning authority. In fact, questioning authority and even defiance of authority are valued American traditions of long standing, dating back at least to the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution. What I find ironic is that the California Learning Assessment System critics seem unaware that they are providing their own children with a far more powerful lesson in the defiance of authority than writing a test essay disagreeing with a school rule could ever teach them.

JENEE GOSSARD

North Hollywood

* Congratulations to the Antelope Valley School Board. For more than a year, I have been trying to tell anyone who will listen that the CLAS exams are a cruel joke. My criticism has nothing to do with the selections for the readings but only with the mathematics questions. I could write and have written pages on them but the short form is: The types of and number of mathematics questions are ridiculous.

My biggest criticism of the exams is that they excuse the state's malfeasance in not publishing the results of the California Tests of Basic Skills or valid equivalent, still given by nearly all districts, to document the actual performance levels of our students. That information on each school should be easily available to parents of current and prospective students. That information on each student should be easily available to that student and his or her parents.

WAYNE BISHOP

Dept. of Mathematics and Computer Science

Cal State L.A.

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