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The Senselessness of 'Teaching to the Test'

February 05, 2001

Regarding "Forcing Standardized Tests on Diverse Kids," by Sandy Banks (Jan. 28): The folly of standardized testing might no better be seen than in the example of my sixth-grade son. Evan's school non-[Stanford 9] test results confirm he reads at the college level, is as many as six achievement years ahead of his class in science, social studies, math and general knowledge, and has a 99.9-plus percentile IQ.

Yet Evan, who reasons and orates like an attorney, is unable to put to paper any but his simplest thoughts. His writing skills, including the physical act of printing and writing as well as composition, grammar, syntax, spelling, punctuation, etc., are four years behind his class and as many as 10 years behind his development in areas of his strength.

Let proponents of simplistic standardized testing explain to me how meaningful any of Evan's [Stanford 9] results (in the 50 to 90 percentile range) might be in understanding his learning dynamic.

Happily, special education professionals in my son's school district, recognizing the need to serve students such as Evan, are piloting a gifted/learning disabled program. Although I haven't quizzed these special-education professionals, I dare say they're not inclined to give much due to standardized testing but inclined to see all children as special and not deserving of being marginalized, as is done by, particularly, California's abuse of the Stanford 9.

BILL HOFFINE

San Diego

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That schools are being forced to "teach to the test" is really appalling. My daughter was first forced to take these grueling, unnatural 18 hours of tests in first grade. She was barely used to having a weekly spelling test. She got stomachaches, had fits of temper in class and was generally petrified of the process and failing. Why do we put such young kids through this? Shouldn't we be getting such young kids excited about being in school and enthused about the process of learning first?

If we can rethink the exorbitant amount of homework our kids are now being bombarded with in school, maybe we can get off this testing bandwagon. In the meantime, I'm going to become a conscientious objector and refuse to allow my child to take these tests in the future. My daughter's self-esteem is much more important.

JUDY SILK

Pacific Palisades

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