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Why do schools fail?

Like a majority of the other school districts in California, the Sonoma Valley Unified School District has seen a precipitous drop in academic performance, at least as measured by the conceptually-flawed standards of the STAR and API (Academic Performance Index) testing data.

As the story on page 1 reveals, Sonoma Valley public school students are not doing well on the annual STAR test, or on the California High School Exit Examination.

Two particularly troubling statistics show that only 21 percent of Valley third-graders tested proficient in English and only 27 percent of seventh-graders were proficient in math.

No one appears to be entirely clear on what these figures really mean, but one inescapable conclusion is that the classroom compulsion to “teach to the test,” driven by No Child Left Behind, has paradoxically left many children struggling in its wake.

But that’s hardly the whole story.

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