Letters: School tests harming education
As a retired elementary school teacher, I can say that whoever wrote those ridiculous sample questions for the state test ["Testing times for LI kids," News, April 8] has no conception of the developmental stages in the life of a young child.
I taught third grade for many years. This sample third-grade math question is a reading test first. Any child who has trouble with comprehension has no chance to do well.
But even for a child proficient in reading and mathematics, this could easily be a four-step problem. The student has to calculate the number of cookies in each bag, add up all the cookies and finally multiply by four. Most 8-year-olds cannot solve a problem involving more than one step.
This barrage of tests from Albany can only have a negative effect on both students and teachers -- on students, because we are teaching them to hate school; and on teachers, because they have to put away the fun and exciting activities they used to do, and concentrate on preparing students for that next test, which is always just down the road.
Vincent Bernardo, West Babylon
A recent Newsday editorial suggested that one reason parents were "on edge" about state tests was because the State Education Department predicted that the percentage of students reaching proficiency would drop to 30 percent ["A test for public education," April 14].
I disagree. The driving force behind the grassroots movement to refuse state tests is much more profound. Parents are refusing to have their children sit for the tests because of the damage that the testing -- and the teacher and principal evaluation policies -- have had on the quality and richness of public education.
The time and energy devoted to test preparation have changed the face of teaching and learning. The system has taken the joy and wonder out of learning for kids. It has deprofessionalized teaching by forcing schools to use commercially published, scripted curricula that are narrow in focus.
Parents who are refusing these tests wish for a school climate where learning is developmentally appropriate, hands-on and multidisciplinary (including science and social studies). They wish to have teachers who are allowed to flourish while practicing their professional craft and whose expertise is trusted and valued.
Mark Wiener, Long Beach
Editor's note: The writer is a recently retired North Bellmore elementary school principal.
Newsday, you have missed the mark yet again. There is an awakening that has been occurring throughout the nation. Parents are finally educating themselves on the state of our educational system, and we are horrified by what we have found: excessive testing on educationally inappropriate material, an experimental Common Core curriculum that eliminates inspired and creative learning, sharing our children's data without our consent, and a system that vilifies the only component in this equation putting our children first, the teachers.
Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. is creating an epidemic of children who are uninspired, dispassionate, bored and stressed -- an epidemic of children who hate school. What is the use of "college ready" when our children won't even want to go to college?
Jeanette Deutermann, Bellmore