According to “More than half opt out” [News, April 8], on Long Island 51.5 percent of eligible students in grades three through eight in 106 of 124 school districts opted out of the state language arts test.

These tests are diagnostic only and have no effect on students’ grades.

Parents and taxpayers should know whether students are progressing in their skills. The teachers union and state education officials need to reach a compromise on what percentage of student test results will be used in teacher evaluations.

It’s important that teachers have some responsibility for students showing progress in their skills as measured by state tests.

Carol Swenson, Lake Grove

Editor’s note: The writer is a retired teacher.

 

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One letter in “NY school tests: con and pro” [April 10] sarcastically argues that since the tests are “too stressful,” we should also get rid of homework and all other stressors and simply grade children on attendance.

The letter writer is apparently unaware of a mounting body of evidence that homework, with little exception, serves practically no constructive purpose in learning and deprives children of some things they really need, like exercise, fresh air, social time, family time, the ability to manage free time and, yes, destressing. This research comes from education writer Alfie Kohn and others, as well as from the practices of Finland, a nation recognized for excellence in education.

The choice isn’t between grading students on deeply flawed standardized tests or not grading them at all. There is an array of much more useful and less stressful teacher-driven assessment tools.

The writer is concerned that if we don’t put demands on children when they’re young, they won’t be able to work under stress when they’re older. Young people today face plenty of stress in their daily lives, but too much stress doesn’t build them for success, it tears them down.

Alan M. Weber, Medford

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Editor’s note: The writer is an assistant professor of early childhood education at Suffolk County Community College.

 

Letter writers of “NY school tests: con and pro” point out that shielding children from challenges, by encouraging them to opt out, does little to prepare them for the realities of life.

One writer said that these tests serve as a measure of school programs as well as student aptitude. It’s suggested that statewide testing is the only way available to hold schools, districts and teachers accountable.

It would seem that the teaching profession has convinced parents, and ultimately their children, that these tests have no value in assessing student development and only serve to create stress. Whatever stress normally accompanies test-taking has clearly been elevated by this position.

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Why can’t the profession come up with a better approach to evaluating teacher proficiency and student development? Could it be that the goal is simply to opt out of being accurately evaluated?

Let’s stop placing the interest of the teaching professional above that of the student.

Robert Biancardi, Rockville Centre