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Student learning, test-taking culture

June 01, 2007

Re "Test-takers, not students," Opinion, May 26

The tendency to equate so-called high-achieving schools with high standardized test scores is a step toward political appeasement and away from setting ablaze the desire for true learning. What students learn by filling in bubbles is that only linear learning matters. True education is not linear; it is lateral. The teacher points the way, and the student must be free to explore tangents that appeal to his or her intellectual curiosity.

MILT ROUSE

Dana Point

The writer is a teacher at Tesoro High School.

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School administrators, from the state superintendent on down, should take heed of Janet Ewell's comments regarding the stifling test-taking culture we have imposed on our children. In the race to improve standardized test scores, school officials have increasingly shackled teachers who want to teach beyond what is tested. California's content standards are nearly a decade old and do not address some of the most vital challenges and opportunities facing the next generation of leaders. Global warming, genetic engineering, nanotechnology, world hunger and the war on terrorism are but a few of the huge issues not explicitly addressed. Those of us who support critical thinking know that the key to learning is really about asking the right questions. I hope that many others will continue to ask hard questions about the purpose of K-12 education that cannot be answered by bubbling in a multiple-choice test.

MICHAEL MATSUDA

Yorba Linda

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I was disturbed to read in Ewell's article about what amounts to the extinction of the novel. Although the current body of literature in education continues to promote authentic learning experiences that work in concert with standardized tests, schools continue to ignore current research, instead operating in a crisisresponse mode that contradicts what educators know about student learning. Having had the good fortune to teach in a high-performing school for the last 12 years, I can attest to the strength of affording teachers professional flexibility in implementing school curricula. This is not to say that we have not implemented the state content standards or consistent benchmarks. What we have steered away from is teaching to the test. And the results speak for themselves: our API moved from 815 to 820 in 2006.

JENNIFER TEDFORD

Beverly Hills

The writer chairs the English department at Beverly Hills High School.

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