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All Students Feel the Effects of Trying to Meet a Higher Standard

I understand that each state wants to measure if and how much children learn, but I am thoroughly disappointed that each state thinks only its test is worthwhile. Because my husband is in the military, my children transfer schools every two years. Every state requires that my children be retested and/or be placed in the lowest-level class.

Our most recent move was to Howard County. My oldest son had A's and B's on his report card, scored in the 98th percentile on his most recent state tests and had an Individualized Education Plan for gifted services. His school put him in the lowest-level classes, made him retest and then moved him into all new classes the third week of school. What a lousy transition for a new kid.

School administrators need to apply some common sense and flexibility in these types of situations. They should not be penalized for test scores of transfer students. Moving schools is hard enough on any child.

Maureen Fields

Columbia

I have had a similar experience. My seventh-grade daughter, a top math student, was placed in a slower math group at a new school, without her parents being told, because her teacher and adviser thought she would be "more comfortable" there. We got it fixed, but I will always remember that smart educators are capable of dumb moves.

Patti Caplan, spokeswoman for the Howard County schools, said they must administer their own test before placing a child in a gifted program because standards differ so greatly from state to state. She said new students such as your son "are placed in grade-level classes initially because schools prefer to move students into more challenging classes after testing rather than risk having to move them later into a less challenging class, which sends an entirely different message to the student."

I think they might want to reconsider that policy, particularly with students with a record such as your son's. But Caplan said their records show your child was in class only six days before his schedule changed in the second week of school.

Please send your questions, along with your name, e-mail or postal address and telephone number, to Extra Credit, The Washington Post, 526 King St., Suite 515, Alexandria, Va. 22314. Or e-mailextracredit@washpost.com.


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