Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2008 | I am the parent of two highly gifted students, and a proponent of increasing rigor and achievement across the spectrum, I believe San Diego Unified’s benchmark tests are necessary (even though highly gifted students tend to have a different set of testing needs). The benchmarks provide both teachers and administrators with an additional tool to assess whether students are benefiting from the techniques used in the classroom. Although some teachers might feel threatened by perceived or possible indiscriminant use of the scores to assess their performance, with a school district this size what other means do we have to judge whether students are making yearly progress?

These tests are administered three to four times per year, in part to try to “catch” students who may be struggling at mid-year and to work with them to catch up then, rather than having them flounder through the end of the year. The results in poorly performing classrooms need to be addressed with multiple remedies, such as mentor teaching, student grouping, and teacher training opportunities.  If the teachers feel these benchmarks are taking too much time, perhaps we should add an additional day to the school year to ameliorate the effect of lost time?

Thanks for your continued attention to the issues in this school district.

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