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Long IslandEducation

Poll divided on teaching evaluation method

File photo of children in a classroom. (Aug.

File photo of children in a classroom. (Aug. 6, 2012) Photo Credit: iStock

Americans are divided on whether to include standardized tests in teaching evaluations, according to a new nationwide poll released today.

In the findings of the 44th annual nationwide PDK/Gallup poll, 52 percent of respondents said exam results should be included in teacher evaluations, while 47 percent said test scores should not be used. The poll's margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

New York State launched a new evaluation system for educators this year in which ratings will be based 20 percent on student scores on state tests, 20 percent on district-approved tests and 60 percent on classroom observation.

"Clearly American opinion on this doesn't match the massive effort under way in many states and school districts to do so," according to report accompanying the poll results.

Arnold Dodge, chairman of the Department of Educational Leadership and Administration at LIU Post, said the poll indicates "there is some traction out there about the overuse of standardized tests. . . . I think that the more standardized tests are included, the less likely it is to have the results we really want."

The findings were based on a survey of a national cross section of 1,002 households from May 7 to June 10, 2012.

The poll also found that a lack of funding was the No. 1 issue facing public schools today.

"I have always been struck by how we claim to view education as an investment but we try to finance it like a commodity," said Tom Rogers, Nassau BOCES district superintendent. "Long Islanders have invested deeply in their education system -- the challenge is to sustain what that investment has bought."

Other findings included increasing support to improve urban schools, an agreement that common core standards can have a positive effect on public education and a call to rigorously screen and prepare teachers. Though not many would give an A or B grade to public schools nationally, most have confidence in public school teachers and know at least one teacher "very well."

"The encouraging part of the report is that nearly three quarters of people surveyed had confidence in the teachers that were working with their kids," said Gary Bixhorn, chief operating officer of Eastern Suffolk BOCES.

Jane Ashdown, dean of the Adelphi University Ruth S. Ammon School of Education, said people "feeling very confident about their local education has historically been how public schools are viewed. I think that speaks to teachers being more than just preparing kids for tests. They are skilled human beings who invest a lot in relating to families and communicating with parents and being actively connected."

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