Letters: School testing taken too far?

Cashus Saydee, 16, a student at Lincoln High

Cashus Saydee, 16, a student at Lincoln High School in Yonkers, listens and takes notes during an after-school program. (April 8, 2013) (Credit: Rory Glaeseman)

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Teaching is being reduced to a number score, ignoring student rapport and teacher motivation ["Testing times for LI kids," News, April 8]. This is so that standardized test scores can be included in the teacher evaluation process. However, there is a factor missing from this equation: the learner.

Where does the student's responsibility lie? As a retired teacher, I can list some of the things that interfere with classroom learning. When students are absent or signed out early, they miss critical instruction. Even when students are in school, there are many distractions: lack of interest or confidence in a subject, disruptive students, improper nutrition, lack of sleep. Many come to school not feeling well due to allergies, chronic illnesses and stress. Some are preoccupied about being bullied, family problems or other personal issues. All of these can interfere with learning. Working after school might limit time for study and homework, adding to stress.

Too often, people outside the classroom dictate what should happen inside the classroom, without teacher input. Perhaps by asking experienced professional teachers and listening to their responses, unessential subject matter could be removed, giving valuable time to the core curriculum.

Russ Clinton, Rocky Point

 

The editors of Newsday need to get out of the office and into the classrooms before they write about testing. Quite frankly, they haven't done their homework, nor have the politicians who are quick to blame teachers for a failing school.

I am a retired teacher with 38 years of elementary education experience. In my later years, I specialized in remedial math. Presently, I tutor several students in math, so I have exposure to the practice tests.

I suggest that the editors of Newsday start by taking the third-grade mathematics test. Keep in mind that third-graders are 8 years old, and many are reading below grade level. The entire test is composed of word problems. So if a child has difficulty in reading comprehension, he is doomed to fail math. Without straight computation problems, it is basically a reading test.

Next, an 8-year-old in many cases is not developmentally ready to handle abstract concepts. The math test has evolved into a test of reasoning and abstract concepts to address the Common Core Standards. I have personally seen multi-step problems in which five or six operations are necessary before you arrive at a final answer. Raising the bar is very desirable, but raising it too high just sets up most of our children for failure.

Philip Tamberino, South Huntington

 

The rush to embrace the new Common Core and push new tests on schoolchildren has been likened to building an airplane while it is flying, with our kids as passengers. The implementation of Common Core was botched and the test questions are so mixed and muddled that education officials are predicting a significant drop in each district's overall scores.

I do not want my child's school-age years to be a New York State testing experiment.

Also, there is a push to have schools submit personal and detailed data from every child to a national information bank, with a promise that the information will be kept safe. This would be without my permission.

State education officials are usurping parental rights in their quest to provide a uniform education and are also dragging students and teachers under the bus while doing so. My child's school, and my husband and I, have a greater understanding of what my child needs to succeed and learn than a testing corporation. I will not allow a bubble test to define my child.

My son is refusing to be a pawn in this, and the only way to win this game is not to play. He will not be taking the English language and math assessment tests.

Debbie Lang, Mount Sinai

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