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February 12, 2013 at 7:00 AM

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Academic success disparity in racial minorities, poor students

Money spent on test should go to support programs

I share Lynne K. Varner’s concern about kids who are not performing like their same-grade peers [“The cost of wasted opportunity,” Opinion, Feb. 8]. Teachers alone cannot influence that difference. And schools alone cannot overcome that difference. Here is what we know from decades of educational research:

A large percentage of minority students often live in poverty.

Those who live in poverty often have a hard time in school.

Those who live in poverty often have inadequate nutrition, poor health care and little access to books.

Each of these factors is associated with low school performance. How could the money spent on MAP testing to date be better spent in our community?

We can take a huge step forward by protecting students from some of the effects of poverty and we can do it immediately: invest more in school food programs, health care (e.g. more school nurses, basic dental and vision care) and school libraries and librarians.

Instead we are investing in higher standards and more tests. There is no research evidence showing that this will help students.

--Kathy Egawa, Seattle

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