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If the students don't care, what good are standardized tests?

To the editor: The results for the Common Core tests are meaningless and useless for the same reason nearly all of the standardized tests have been since No Child Left Behind was put into effect: The students know the test does not matter to them. The tests are not part of their grade, and colleges will never see the results. ("Achievement gaps widen for California's black and Latino students," Sept. 11)

We are measuring districts, schools and teachers based on the performance of students who have no stake in the test. Sophisticated students notoriously rush through the test so they can put their weary heads down and rest.

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Schools and politicians were sold billions of dollars' worth of tests and materials for something that's useful only for students who care.

Jim Neer, Los Angeles

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To the editor: We are told that most of our students "are not on track to succeed in college" because of the results of recent testing

There is no evidence that the new tests predict college success, nor is there any evidence that they are better than previous tests or having no yearly tests at all. The decrease in test scores shows us only that the new tests are harder.

As Alfie Kohn said, harder does not necessarily mean better.

Stephen Krashen, Los Angeles

The writer is a professor emeritus of education at USC.

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To the editor: It is no wonder that the students get low test scores. If the example question in the article is any indication, the writers of the questions are unqualified.

The sample question posed this problem: "Somebody told the five-eyed space creatures that they could not join the contest. Explain why five-eyed space creatures cannot make a group with 24 eyes."

Since the question does not specify "exactly 24 eyes," you could make a group with 24 eyes and one left over. In fact, because the question is so badly written, you could make a group with 24 eyes with creatures having five, 13 or a million eyes.

Gary Booth, Corona del Mar

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