In "Math rises, English falls" [News, Aug. 15] the Plainview-Old Bethpage superintendent, Lorna Lewis, explained that one problem with Common Core English tests is format. They require students to read long passages then answer multiple questions by referring back to various sections of texts. As Lewis said, "That's not what we do in everyday life."
I agree that the format is contributing to lower scores. If students are asked about the author's purpose for including paragraph nine in the article, for example, the students have to refer back to the article, then look at the choices and try to find the answer. It would be far better to reprint paragraph nine with the test question. Other questions require students to refer to multiple paragraphs in the text.
Asking special education students with reading disabilities to go back and forth between the text and the questions repeatedly is ludicrous. They are very likely to choose an answer at random. Mainstream students also may be frustrated to the point where they pick random answers.
The state should have certified teachers examine the Common Core standards and exams to determine whether they are developmentally and educationally appropriate. The standards should be revised accordingly.
There should be a moratorium on the exams until the problems with both the standards and the exams are rectified.
Linda Cuomo, Garden City
Editor's note: The writer is a reading and special education teacher.
Education has fallen short of modern economic needs for decades. The fundamental restructuring of our antiquated public school system requires bold leadership and civic-mindedness, not short-sighted goals.
Teachers are now expected to create high academic achievers out of all students. This was never the expectation. Clearly, there are some needed changes to the job of teacher, but teachers have become the scapegoat.
Although my experience shows me that it is a rarity, we hear a lot about teachers who are apathetic or ineffective. When this occurs, it does not happen in isolation. The building administration allowed it. The majority of the time this occurs is in a low socio-economic community.
The greatest causality in a child's academic success is not based on where they go to school but their parents' educational background and participation. If the same 4th-grade teacher from Jericho was transferred to a less affluent school, he or she would not be deemed a good teacher based on test results. It's unfair to students and teachers to determine success by comparing groups, especially in elementary school. We do not all start at the same place.
Schools reflect the communities they serve. Let's stop blaming teachers.
Eileen Duffy Doyle, Manhasset
Editor's note: The writer teaches in a public school in New York City.