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Our Opinion: STAR stars?

August 18, 2001

We are pleased to see the Imperial County's STAR program test scores going up. Who wouldn't be?

While gains in the county this year were, on average, only slightly better than last year, there is a trend of improvement and for that we congratulate our local students, teachers and administrators for their hard work preparing for the Stanford 9 and other STAR tests.

As the pressure of accountability mounts across the state, no public school can deny the importance placed on these and similar test results. Regardless of the validity or non-validity of criticisms against the testing, the fact is the tests are mandated by the state and state officials are looking at the results, even awarding money on the basis of the scores.

As long as the tests are here, we should be doing everything we can to prepare our kids to do well on the exams.

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Though our scores are rising, Imperial County's average scores are still not meeting statewide averages.

Several Imperial County schools are already at or above statewide averages in several subjects, and that's great. Unfortunately, there are even more that are below.

In the past, it has been easy to accept our lower scores because of our county's demographics. Generally, our county is poorer and has more English-language learners than the rest of the state. We also are geographically isolated and lack many of the resources of more densely populated areas.

While these are still important factors to consider when comparing test results, we cannot use them as excuses. We cannot accept below-average performances on statewide testing.

New programs such as the Valle Imperial Mathematics Teacher Enhancement Project and the partnership between Imperial County educators and the University of California Office of the President are just two of the latest resources to come to our community.

While we praise our local educators, we think it's important to do whatever we, as a community, can do to support and encourage their work not just to educate, but to educate our kids well.

Teachers can't do it alone.

Parents and families need to join the effort. We ask that all parents and guardians get involved with their children's education. Meet with teachers. Help your kids with their homework. Don't just ask your kids questions about what they're doing at school; ask them and really care about their answers.

The process of improving education in this county is a joint effort that will only be successful if parents, educators and students work together.

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