"Town and gown: a mutual commitment": October 7, 2005, conference luncheon keynote address: Henry Der.

Author:Der, Henry

In my comments this afternoon, I would like to talk about the state testing program, the federal No Child Left Behind accountability system, and their effects on Chinese and other racial minority students.

The California Postsecondary Education Commission has documented over the years the high percentage of Asian high school graduates eligible for admission to University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU). The eligibility rate of Asian students for UC freshman admission is double that of white students. The eligibility rate of Asian students for CSU freshman admission is one-third higher than that of white students. Asian college graduates have pursued successful careers from the sciences and medicine to business. Unlike their predecessors, today's Asian students have plenty of role models and many believe everything and anything are achievable.

What have we learned from our collective experience in public education? What responsibilities do we, as Chinese Americans, have to public education, an institution that has helped immensely Chinese and other Asians achieve greater socioeconomic status?

In comparison to performance by all students, Chinese and Asian students in general have performed well on statewide standardized tests. Chinese Americans are in a unique position to challenge the state's testing program and to probe what can be done to assist those who do not perform well on required tests, due to their language background and/or economic status.

Has the state burdened students with too many tests, especially immigrant, English language learners?

Take for example, the tests that a 10th grade English Language Learner has to take, not counting classroom quizzes, mid-terms, and end-of-the semester exams:

* English Language Development Test

* California Standard Test (ELA, Math, Science, and History)

* SAT 9--for national comparison purposes

* High School Exit Exam

* Physical Education Test

For high school juniors, the burden of testing increases, as these students, including more English language learners and racial minorities, take the SAT I, II, and Advanced Placement.

In the case of my third child who was a high school junior when the statewide testing program was rolled out, as a parent and not in my role as deputy superintendent at the California Department of Education, I exercised the waiver for her not to take the STAR test. I asked myself how many more tests does she have to take in order to assess her...

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