School evaluation data to date has been negatively weighted by the results of inner-city schools, causing citizens to believe that teachers and most American school districts are failing. Not a single study has analyzed the many successful school districts in places like Westchester and Long Island.
It's not difficult to list many school districts in Nassau and Suffolk that have results comparable to the finest schools in the country and in the international community. The academic results, number of students going on to college and minuscule dropout rates are the pride of residents. It's incredible that these districts are being forced to abandon their practices and resort to strategies that value single test results.
When school administrators evaluate teachers, they naturally consider students' performance on standardized exams, as well as other measures seemingly neglected in the present testing frenzy. These include comprehensive lesson planning, a positive classroom environment, awareness of students' learning styles, classroom discipline, assigning and checking homework, variety of instruction techniques, effective communication with parents and more.
It's unfortunate that administrators and union representatives were excluded from the planning for today's test-centric teaching method. People with a corporate mentality, devoid of classroom experience, don't even realize that underprivileged and affluent children can't be measured with a "one shoe fits all" evaluation system.
Robert Ricken, Floral Park
Editor's note: The writer has worked as a teacher, guidance counselor, principal and Mineola school superintendent.