A Student's 
Guide to
SAT 9 Testing
*  *  *
(Online edition note: This document was produced by a San Diego County high school student who distributed it in 2002. He was harshly disciplined by his school officials, who later were forced to rescind the discipline). 

Sample Question:

1 If the school district forced you to take a time-consuming multiple-choice test without your consent, a test that contains serious flaws but is still used to determine your high school's "achievement" and the "achievement" of individual students, would you:

A. Obey.
B. Submit.
C. Comply.
D. Conform.
E. Fight back.


Interested in choosing not to take the SAT 9 est? Here's what to do:

Show this pamphlet to your parents and discuss the issue with them.

If your parents agree with your decision not 1 take the test, obtain written permission from them.

~. See your counselor or the head counselor soon. Inform them of your decision, and present them with the written permission from your parents. According to the California Department of Education's Standards and Assessment Division, this written permission exempts you from taking the test.

$. You are then free to read, do homework, study for AP tests, or just enjoy yourself during the four-hour Core testing periods!
For more information, visit:

California Department of Education
http://www. ode. ca.gov

National Council on Measurement in Education

Pencils Down

The National Center For Fair & Open Testing
http ://www.fairtest. org

? San Diego City Schools

To teachers and administrators:
The purpose of this pamphlet is to inform students of their right to choose not to comply with standardized testing, and to encourage debate and discussion on the subject of high-stakes tests. If for some reason you are afraid of constructive discourse and are inclined 10 prevent the distribution of these pamphlets, please know that you have no Constitutional right to do so unless you can specifically prove that it is causing a "substantial and material disruption" of school activity.
(SDCS Admin. Procedure 6210)

? How do schools use standardized tests? Despite their biases, inaccuracies, limited ability to measure achievement or ability, and other flaws, schools use standardized tests to determine if children are ready for school, track them into instructional groups; diagnose for learning disability, retardation and other handicaps; and decide whether to promote, retain in grade, or graduate many students. Schools also use tests to guide and control curriculum content and teaching methods.

? If we don't use standardized tests, how will we know how students and programs are doing? Better methods of evaluating student needs and progress already exist. Good observational checklists used by trained teachers are more helpful than any screening test. Assessment based on student performance on real learning tasks is more useful and accurate for measuring achievement - and provides more information than multiple-choice achievement tests. Testing can be useful for obtaining rough estimates - but it should not be an all-important basis for making high-stakes decisions.

? How do other nations evaluate their students?
The U.S. is the only economically advanced nation to rely heavily on multiple-choice tests. Other nations use performance-based assessment where students are evaluated on the basis of real work such as essays, projects and activities. Ironically, because these nations do not focus on teaching to multiple-choice tests, they even score higher than U.S. students on those kinds of tests.

? Doesn't taking the test help our school? No. Taking the SAT 9 test only reinforces the falsehood that standardized testing is a meaningful measure of student achievement. It also supports the rampant suffocation of creativity and standardization of thought already present in our educational system.

? What do independent education experts think about the SAT 9 test? James Popham, a professor at UCLA, and Bob Schaeffer, public education director of Fairtest (an independent organization that monitors standardized testing), recently reviewed copies of the SAT 9 test that were leaked to the Los Angeles Times. Their responses, as reported in the Times, were as follows:
-"The truth is it's a fundamentally flawed testing system," said Popham. "Students' scores are almost certain to be meaningfully contaminated by factors that have little to do with the effectiveness of a teaching staffs instructional efforts."
-"If the public could look at the content of these exams, people would be appalled at what's being used to measure educational quality," Schaeffer said.

? Is it true that last year's tests results for our school did not count?
Yes. Due to "testing irregularities", the SAT 9 scores for Scripps Ranch were declared invalid. This year the results will not "count" either - they will be used to recalibrate the score levels for our school. This means that you wasted two weeks taking the test last year - and if a single teacher errs in proctoring the test again this year, you will have wasted your time once more.

? Why does the school district want us to do so well on the tests?
High test scores allow Superintendent Alan Bersin to "prove" the accomplishments of his "Blueprint for Success", a program that no students or teachers in our district asked for. Based on this rather dubious evidence, Bersin can and will use test "success" to justify anything.

? What happens if I don't take the test? Although records are kept of student scores, refusing to take the SAT 9 test will not damage your chances for college admission. The SAT I & II or ACT tests (although not entirely accurate themselves) are the only standardized tests required or used by colleges in the admissions processes.

? What's the big deal? Why not just put up with the SAT 9 test?
The time spent testing might be used for actual learning, and the money wasted could be put to better use improving school infrastructure and resources - or perhaps more importantly rewarding our shamefully underpaid teachers. Already, the school district is beginning to implement a High School Exit Exam, even more extensive than the SAT 9. The further standardization of our education must be stopped now! As students, we have absolutely no control over the programs and policies that affect us every day. High educational achievement can be achieved in other ways than wasteful and inaccurate testing, and unfortunately the only effective way to voice our dissent is through active disobedience. If we want an educational system that we can be proud of; one that gives every type of student the chance to develop his or her latent abilities, we hive no choice but to resist a system that seek~only conformity, not greatness, from us.


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