Letter: State shouldn’t have ‘dumbed down’ exams

A pencil fills out a multiple choice exam. A pencil fills out a multiple choice exam. Photo Credit:

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The op-ed “Fuzzy Regents scores don’t add up” provides a sobering dose of reality about what the Regents examinations don’t measure, but what they are supposed to.

Decades ago, the New York State Department of Education claimed it was increasing standards by testing “thinking” skills and requiring that all students sit for those exams.

Comparison of the exams after the “reform” with those before it revealed a significant decline in educational rigor. The new exams only held students responsible for mastering about two-thirds of the content they were previously required to learn.

Despite this diminution of rigor, even fewer students passed these “dumbed down” examinations, to the embarrassment of the state Education Department. As a result, we now have the statistical manipulations described in the op-ed.

The old saw that “figures don’t lie, but liars can figure” is alive and well-ensconsed in the state Education Department. This is because more than two generations of educators have been indoctrinated into the educational philosophy of social and emotional learning, which claimed that effort was more important than achievement.

Alan R. Lichtenstein, Commack

Editor’s note: The writer is a retired New York City high school assistant principal. 

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