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Letter: Much 'help' for Glen Cove students

A student studies for his Regents exam. (May

A student studies for his Regents exam. (May 1, 2013) Credit: Heather Walsh

Regarding "Glen Cove test-fixing probe" [News, Sept. 15], what is really terrible is the whole regime of testing that has been imposed on these poor children, part of an ill-conceived and questionably motivated scheme that grew out of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Children everywhere are being left behind!

These tests don't test anything important to a student's future, such as creativity, responsibility, or the ability to understand, relate to and work with others. Factual knowledge is about the least important thing that a student needs when you can look anything up on the Internet.

Look, for example, at Sugata Mitra's work with computers in India, in which children cooperatively not only learned how to use the computer, but learned English entirely on their own.

The testing mania is forcing teachers to abandon almost anything that is interesting and fun in a child's learning experience.

What's more, these teachers were put in a lose-lose position. If your students do poorly on the test, you could lose your job. If you get caught helping your students on the test, you could lose your job.

These tests, along with No Child Left Behind and the Common Core, are top-down mandates that ignore modern brain research, and they should be scrapped now.

Jerry Mintz, Roslyn Heights

Editor's note: The writer is the director of the Alternative Education Resource Organization, which advises schools and families about alternative education choices.

This is yet another story that makes many dedicated and committed Long Island educators, including me, sick to our stomachs. However, it does make one thing clear, and that is that all school districts on Long Island should be scrutinized equally.

Too often it is the high-minority school district in the poorest socioeconomic area that makes front page news. No one would think that Glen Cove would engage in the alleged unethical and illegal activity: disregarding rules for administering state exams, making excessive accommodations for special needs, or prompting students to rethink exam answers. And yet, as this investigation illustrates, it sadly happens.

Perhaps the more prestigious districts have more to lose and thus are pressured to boost test scores to protect their image.

Parents and school leaders must accept that learning disabilities, emotional issues, family dysfunction and flawed instruction exist in the poorest and the most affluent of communities. Parents and school leaders must also acknowledge that because of those issues, some students will fail.

We must invest in high-quality, research-driven instructional intervention programs to assist these students, or nothing will change.

Ann Marie Governale, Holbrook


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