Letter to Colorado Rep. Sonnenberg

Yesterday I read in an article dated February 6th, 2010 in our Greeley Tribune of a bill you are advancing, HB 1254, which would require students to achieve a certain score on their tenth grade CSAP tests as a prerequisite to graduation. While all educators appreciate your concern about the education of our youth, with all due respect, this bill is ill-advised. We are making a mistake of enormous proportions to place such emphasis on a severely flawed testing program.

All evidence indicates that the Colorado Student Assessment Program, now some twelve years old, has done a terrible disservice to our society. We are seeing more marginalization of our children as we turn inner city schools into test prep centers. Doctoral theses reveal that test results correlate directly with socio-economic status. Books have been written by educational scholars which have exposed the corruption inherent in high stakes standardized tests. These tests serve only large publication houses whose profits have soared at the exploitation of our youth. The regimen has also served to decimate the teaching profession as experienced practitioners no longer see their critical work valued. Please see one of the most recent books on the topic, Seeds of Tomorrow: Solutions for Improving Our Children’s Education by Angela Engel, published by Paradigm Publishers, Boulder, Colorado. The ISBN number is 978-1-59451-779-2. Ms. Engel’s research is exhaustive, and the conclusion is irrefutable – high stakes standardized testing does nothing to advance the education of our youth. Quite the contrary, the regimen dehumanizes us all.

Far more supportive of public education would be a bill further supporting our school and public libraries. All evidence reveals that libraries offer our citizenry, and particularly our youth, access to reading materials that promote thought, creativity, and enhance literacy. Now more than ever they need our support. It is a support that would reap marvelous benefits at a fraction of the cost of our high stakes standardized testing regimen currently soaking up so much of our resources.

We also invite you to visit the website of our Coalition for Better Education, Inc. at www.thecbe.org, for more information, as well as that of erudite educator Susan Ohanian at www.susanohanian.org. The more one researches the motives and consequences of high stakes standardized testing, the more one realizes the boondoggle so deleterious to the values of a thriving, vibrant democracy.

Don Perl
The Coalition for Better Education, Inc.

Department of Hispanic Studies
University of Northern Colorado
Greeley, Colorado 80639


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