The California Pandemic Is a Problem

The California Pandemic Is a Problem

Letters to the Editor: The pandemic harmed students. Obsessing over test scores will harm them more.

When I was a high-school student, I was one of four Asian-Americans in my graduating class. I had the usual worries about my future: would I get accepted to college? Was I qualified enough? I never imagined that I would be faced with the reality I know and live with each day: living with a chronic illness I can’t cure.

Many high-schoolers in California are sick with a new type of flu — one that can’t be cured. This pandemic that started in China was an exaggeration made by Chinese authorities to scare us and prevent us from going on vacation. But this isn’t the last outbreak in our country.

The flu is a very serious problem. It killed 3.5 million people in 1918, but only a quarter of that death toll remains. It can do the same to this country.

I am not opposed to testing. But instead of having a system that keeps score, we need a system that enables our students to see what they do know and how that compares to the rest of the country.

Schools are under enormous pressure; our students are expected to score above a certain level. So we are supposed to be very concerned about how they score and what the test results mean. But instead of worrying about how they are doing, we try to prove that they do not know something and that they cannot do something.

We need a system that is fair. We should be looking more at what they know and what they can do.

In the 1950s, California became the first state to use a point system in testing. In those days, the state used high school and college entrance exams to measure school performance in the areas of math, history and science.

Students did very well on these exams until 1970 when they got caught up in the Vietnam War and other political and economic upheavals in the 1960s.

The results were poor in the subjects of science, social studies and social sciences. The students started to score much lower in the math and history tests.

To avoid losing the points the students had acquired over the years, we moved to a point system. The California Department of Education has been running a program since 1979. We use a standardized achievement test called the California Assessment of

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