Students, like politicians, debate new education bill

This time, the partisan wrangling over the education reform bill came not from Congress or the White House, but from teenagers.

High-schoolers from Boston Latin School crammed into their gym last week to hear President Bush speak about the bipartisan education overhaul he had just signed into law.

Afterward, two co-editors of the student

paper were a bit at odds with each other over the new policy.

"Last year, I took 10 standardized tests," says senior Megan Fountain, referring to the SAT, the SAT II and AP subject tests, and the Stanford 9. "That's way too many bubbles to have to fill in."

Megan doesn't think too highly of the new requirement for all states to implement standardized tests for Grades 3 through 8, nor does she like the idea of more federal control.

"I've seen a lot of education results coming from the grass-roots level," she says. For example, it was a community effort that finally added the cafeteria and gym to her elementary school in a hard part of town.

But her newspaper "rival," Keith Feng, rolls his eyes at her ideas.

"Some people don't think standardized testing is fair - or fun," he says, referring to the state graduation test already in place in Massachusetts, the MCAS. "But our schools need accountability, and students shouldn't be able to graduate without basic skills."

Junior Julie Ng, meanwhile, was unsure about the new policy, which will allow students to transfer to another school if tests prove theirs to be failing. "I'm sure many students will get stuck in areas where they won't have a better school to choose from," she says.

"As much as I complain about Boston Latin, I'm really lucky to be here," she says of the nation's oldest public school.

Other students had suggestions for what sort of standardized tests states should adopt. "Don't start off too hard, or students will get exasperated [as] they did in Massachusetts," says sophomore Leah Murphy.

"Let students opt for a portfolio review instead of a test," says senior Alison Damaskos. "That way, it's more fair for those who are better at oral tests."

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