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Teachers working on test protest

By Ben Lumpkin Daily Planet staff
Monday May 21, 2001

As Berkeley school administrators decide what to do with more than $500,000 awarded to the district for improved standardized test scores, a growing core of frustrated Berkeley teachers are studying ways to protest the test. 

A Berkeley Federation of Teachers meeting at Rosa Parks Elementary School earlier this month drew more than 20 teachers from five Berkeley schools eager to join a growing movement against the state-mandated Stanford 9 test. 

A 10-hour test for students in grades two through 11, the Stanford 9 is intended to compare student grade-level achievement in reading and math from school to school throughout the state. 

The test is at the center of Gov. Gray Davis’ efforts to hold schools more directly accountable for meeting statewide education standards. Schools that perform well are eligible to receive monetary awards, in the form of teacher bonuses and student scholarships. Schools that perform poorly face sanctions and, in extreme cases, may even be taken over by the state.  

A growing number of students, parents and teachers are opposing the test and the way it is used. At two affluent high schools in Marin County earlier this month, enough students boycotted the tests to invalidate the results. The students called the test meaningless and a waste of time. 

Protesters in Oakland May 7 said the test was racist and unfair. Not only are individual test questions culturally biased in favor of affluent whites, they argued, but students of color tend to go to schools in poorer