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Standardized School Tests

September 30, 1997

Re "A Giant Leap Toward Better California Schools," editorial, Sept. 21: Your "any test is better than no test" analysis of the Legislature's capitulation to Gov. Pete Wilson's demand for a statewide school testing program ignores the reality that unless a test is measured against a standard of what our children should be learning, its value in improving education is limited.

The logic of why we're implementing a statewide test before the Board of Education adopts its standards still escapes us. Remember, the sole reason we haven't had a statewide test in three years is because the governor, in a 1994 election-year sop to the right wing, vetoed a bill to continue the controversial California Learning Assessment System.

After CLAS disappeared, the governor and the Legislature created a 21-member Standards Commission in 1995 to establish rigorous achievement standards for schools by the end of 1997 and create a test that's tied directly to those standards. If we've waited three years for such a test, isn't it worth waiting one more for a test that's actually based on meaningful criteria?

The commission is ahead of schedule in developing the standards, yet the governor couldn't wait. Instead, he vetoed $203 million in state education spending in order to get his $35-million test, on the last night of session--a test based on absolutely zero standards that will be good for exactly one year. Who wins? Aside from the governor and the company landing the single statewide contract, it's hard to see how our students and parents end up anything but losers in a deal based on nothing more than political expediency.

DEBRA BOWEN

Assembly, D-Marina del Rey

VIRGINIA STROM-MARTIN

Assembly, D-Duncans Mills

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