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Letters: Education changes need tweaking

Classrooms across Long Island were empty on Thursday.

Classrooms across Long Island were empty on Thursday. Check our listings of delayed openings, closures and cancellations to see what's in store for Friday. Credit: Daniel Brennan

The poor implementation of the new educational standards -- the Common Core -- has become a rallying cry for parents opposed to standardized testing and for teachers who question the fairness of being evaluated based on the Common Core's more demanding curricula ["State tests opposed in resolution," News, Dec. 11].

This introduction could have been, and still can be, successfully accomplished. Most Americans recognize that our schools must become more responsive to international competition for jobs and our nation's future economic well-being, thus the need to upgrade curricula and to require more from both students and teachers.

A better implementation process would introduce a gradual, increasing infusion of test questions based on the new standards, thus integrating the traditional statewide student assessment with the evaluation of the more complex Common Core curriculum. But most important, for now, the performance on these questions would not be included in any student's score or any teacher's performance evaluation. The inclusion of these more complex test questions would give parents, students and teachers a clearer picture of the new expectations.

"Item analyses" of test questions would identify curricular areas needing improved instructional materials, increased time on task, and/or teacher professional development. Teachers could then modify lesson plans; what is tested will be taught.

And, local schools should decide when to begin testing our youngest children, while recognizing that these students, too, must be prepared for the more demanding curriculum.

Yes, improving our schools to meet international standards might take a few years longer, but allaying the fears of students, parents and teachers is more than worth it.

Marc F. Bernstein, Manhattan

Editor's note: The writer is an adjunct faculty member at the Fordham University Graduate School of Education and a former superintendent of the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District and Valley Stream Central High School District.
 

I am writing concerning "Cuomo steps back on schools debate" [News, Dec. 2].

The fact that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo "is trying to keep his distance from the issue" of the Common Core is ridiculous. He claims that he is not in charge of the state Education Department and implies that this is not his responsibility. Yet he declared himself "the students' lobbyist" and took credit for the changes in 2012 of the evaluation of teachers.

It seems to me that he just doesn't want to deal with this issue!

Christina Trupia, Hicksville
 

We need leaders in education like a recent writer to Newsday, Thomas F. Kelly, an associate professor at Dowling College, to be appointed to a special state committee to coordinate reform of the Common Core craziness ["New curriculum rankles," Letters, Dec. 1].

Kelly's succinct analysis of a Common Core structural failure was a relief from the useless and repetitious complaints of many writers.

Unpaid trained and licensed ombudsmen, free of political and financial ties to schools, might be useful in moving us one step closer to schools that accomplish more with and for children. Their observations could supplement those by school administrators.

James Gough, New Hyde Park

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