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Raising the Stakes

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It’s an irony of the testing era that many educators have pointed out: As fateful as standardized tests have become for schools, they generally have little significance for the kids who actually take them. The San Marcos Unified School District in California wants to change that by implementing a “grade bump” program that would enable high school students to boost their course grades by scoring well on state tests. The idea is to give transcript-conscious students a reason to take the tests more seriously. “It’s demoralizing when you know that the school is being graded and the student is not,” says San Marcos board member Beckie Garrett. Not everyone is so high on the idea, however. English teacher Mike Spangler recently told the school board that the program would be unfair to kids who don’t test well and, by allowing them to fall back on their test scores, could give some students one more reason not to pay attention in class.

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Bright students should be allowed to "bump" a grade, but only after careful consideration of the "whole child", not just tests in the academia area. Reading and writing skills should be considered along with maturity level, ability to get along with others, and their sense of responsibility.

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