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It's time to discuss performance medals

May 23, 2012

This spring at Burbank elementary schools, principals awarded medals to students based on state test results from the prior year. My special needs son did not receive a medal and broke down into tears during his assembly. When my older son brought home four medals from his assembly, there were tears again.

There were many children who cried at these medal assemblies; many who were embarrassed when they had to explain to their peers why they did not get a medal.

All of this could have been avoided, had principals consulted first with parents at PTA meetings, or with teachers.

Did these principals review federal and state privacy laws? Schools are not allowed to release testing results without parent consent. They are not allowed to “personally identify” any student. Hanging colored medals on the necks of students personally identifies those students' performance levels.

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And the cost for these medals? This is not an insignificant dollar amount. Why fund these medals when teachers don't have access to adequate classroom supplies?

I urge parents to tell their principal that they are opposed to these medals. Discuss the matter at your next PTA meeting.

I heard an administrator say that state testing is so much more important than it used to be. That is probably true, but a line must be drawn somewhere. Where? When parents are not consulted, when teachers are ignored, and when our children are made to cry.

Kelly Duenckel

Burbank

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