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Letters: Student scores are useless

Many desks were empty in this classroom at

Many desks were empty in this classroom at Valley Stream Memorial Junior High School as students opted out of taking the state's English Language Arts test Thursday, April 16, 2015. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Nothing in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's budget, nor in the May 20 bill passed by the State Assembly, does anything to benefit students ["An empty vote on teacher evals," Editorial, May 26]. All of it is based on a faulty premise that our state's standardized tests measure a student's progress. They do not.

As a teacher, I will be the first in line to support any tweak in the system that benefits students. Right now, we give our students state assessments that do not provide any information regarding their progress. Teachers are given no information that can be used to improve classroom instruction.

We receive "growth scores" that measure teacher against teacher in similarly situated schools, using a standard bell curve. This means that regardless of student outcomes in our classrooms, some of us will be placed at the top of the curve, the majority in the middle and the remainder at the bottom. We are given a number, with no empirical value about what we do well, and conversely, what we do not. No teacher knows if he or she helped to facilitate the growth of any child.

We must ask who is benefiting from all of this pandering: Pearson Education, the company that is paid to write the tests; legislators who pretend they are catering to teachers; or hedge funds benefiting from charter school expansion?

Let's stop playing games.

Melissa McMullan, Wading River

Editor's note: The writer teaches sixth grade in the Comsewogue School District.

My son is a perfect example of why teachers should not be evaluated on test scores. My son was a bright, inquisitive boy but a terrible test taker. He absorbed everything but never did well on standardized tests, especially when it came to reading.

He did eventually get better. He graduated from Cardozo High School in Queens and went on to earn a bachelor's of engineering from Binghamton University. His grades were never exemplary, but he is brilliant. His work record is exemplary, and he has been sought out by many of the top companies in his field.

I'm grateful this evaluation system was not in place when he was in school. I'm sure teachers would have dropped him from higher-level classes, fearing his grades would ruin their chances of keeping their jobs.

Linda Silverman, Bellerose Manor

Editor's note: The writer is a former New York City high school teacher.


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