<b>Scrap standardized tests</b>

EDITOR: I heartily applaud your recommendation that STAR tests be eliminated ("Let STAR test pass, make way for new test," Wednesday), but you don't go far enough: All standardized tests should be scrapped.

The only advocates of standardized testing are testing companies, which make billions on them annually, and those who want to standardize students, teachers and schools. Is that what we want from education? I don't, and never did, during my 40 years as an educator.

Students must be able to think for themselves, critically and creatively, not just spew back information that they've memorized or perform operations that are mechanical and only productive of the "right" answer. Most standardized tests are "objective" and focus on the latter, not the former. And even when well-written, they're not truly objective: They're created by subjective human beings who decide what to test, how to test it and who evaluates the results.

The best tests measure what students can do, not what they can't, and guide teachers in deciding what and how they should teach to maximize learning for each student. Not all students are alike, nor are all teachers, and if we try to force them all into the same mold — "standardize" them — we're doing everyone an enormous disservice.


Santa Rosa