Sunday, August 11, 2013


Letters to the Editor of the LA Times |

 Test scores in California

Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. John Deasy said he didn't know how to make sense of California's falling student test scores. (Los Angeles Times)

Re "State sees a surprise drop in test scores," Aug. 9

John Rogers, a professor in UCLA's Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, is right: There shouldn't be too much concern about tiny changes in standardized test scores.

If we are interested in real gains, let's attack the real problem: poverty. Nearly one-quarter of children in the U.S. live in poverty, which means inadequate diet, lack of healthcare and little or no access to books. The best teaching in the world is of little help when students are hungry, ill and have nothing to read.

Forget the untested, expensive Common Core curriculum standards. Let's invest more in food programs, healthcare and libraries.

Stephen Krashen

Los Angeles

The writer is a professor emeritus of education at USC.

I am not surprised that annual testing is producing diminishing returns.

Years ago, as a school data analyst, I had been tracking results for a teacher who had been fired for just cause. They were comparable to the results of what was considered the best teacher in the same subject area.

Another time, I worked with a school that raised its state Academic Performance Index score by more than 70 points; the next year, it improved by only one point.

I also once observed a school under a Miramonte Elementary-like siege, where the conventional wisdom predicted a drop in scores. That turned out to be wrong.

This year, I was shocked by the flat results at the schools I worked with. But with the statewide results out, I'm no longer surprised.

While I believe in using data for decision making, I sometimes wonder about the reliability of the statistical model used to evaluate schools.

Michael F. Katzman

Bell Canyon

I don't believe it: California students' standardized test scores in math and English dropped unexpectedly after years of cuts.

According to Education Week, California ranks 49th in the nation in per-pupil spending. And now we're surprised that scores dropped?

Frances Mathews


As a person raised in a "straight talking" family and business environment, I was taken back by L.A. Unified School District Supt. John Deasy's comments: "It's very counterintuitive. I don't know how to make sense of it."

He should have said this: "I am disappointed. We missed the mark. We will double our efforts to improve these test scores in the coming year."

I guess that the only straight talk available today is in Clint Eastwood's old movies.

Robert DeAlmeida

Lake Forest

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