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2001-05-09

As More States Adopt Mandatory High-Stakes Testing for All Public School Students, a Debateon Whether Testing Is Good for Kids and Schools

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Students around the country are taking exams right now. These exams usually mean the difference between passing andfailing a class, but state governments around the country are trying institute what is called "mandatory, high-stakestesting." If students pass the tests, they move on to the next grade or graduate. If they fail, they are held back.

In New York, education commissioner Richard Mills and the Board of Regents have decided to make "Regents exams" whichstudents used to take only if they were seeking a prestigious Regents diploma mandatory for graduation. Around 1,000students and parents protested the move in Albany earlier this week.

In Los Angeles, several hundred teachers, students and parents demonstrated in front of the Los Angeles School Boardyesterday. They were protesting against the Stanford-9 test, the high-stakes standardized test which is required ofall public school students in California. The State Board of Education made the tests mandatory two years ago, andalso adopted a system of funding which requires schools to achieve minimum test scores in order to receive funds.

The state’s emphasis on mandatory testing fits in with President Bush’s education plan. Bush, who called himself the"education President," has called for mandatory, annual tests for every student in grades three through eight.Failing schools would face penalties, enter into corrective regimes and possibly be forced to close.

Guests:

  • Ann Cook, Co-director of the Urban Academy High School and Co-chair of the New York Performance StandardsConsortium (one of co-sponsors of protest).
  • Meryll Tisch, sits on the New York State Board of Regents. E-mail: meryllt@yahoo.com.
  • Jane Hirschmann, Chair of the Parents Coalition to Stop High StakesTesting.
  • Bill Gallegos, member of the Coalition for Educational Justice, parent (younger son just graduated from LAunified school district).

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