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OpinionLetters

LETTERS: Two sets of laws for shoplifting?, tests flawed as evaluation tool

Two sets of laws?

So Sephora employees chose not to press charges against Caroline Giuliani when they found out who she was . This sure gives a strong message that there really are two sets of laws: One for the famous and another for the rest of us common folk. The store, the Giuliani family and the shoplifter herself should be ashamed.

Elaine Krieger

Baldwin

Tests are flawed

as evaluation tool

The wide disparities in state test results from year to year indicate the inappropriateness of using these tests to drive instruction or to evaluate students, teachers or administrators.

Tenure decisions based in part on these state exams have already been made last month in New York City on thousands of probationary teachers. Middle Country school board president Karen Lessler is correct when she says that student scores are manipulated for political reasons, not student achievement.

Let's not lose another generation of students to testing mediocrity and poor public policy.

Gary Fernando

Massapequa

Editor's note: The writer is president of the Islip Teachers Association.

It is admirable to want to improve student achievement, but one does not do that by increased testing or by manipulating "cut scores."

The only way the results of these tests are at all useful is if districts analyze the items on the tests to see where their students are lacking and then make a concerted effort to address those areas. The scores themselves are meaningless, given the capricious manner in which the passing scores were determined.

Roberta Silver

Baldwin

The public may now be getting a glimmer of the real picture in the education establishment. The apparent rise in test results in recent years was manipulated by lowering test thresholds. In fact, test scores have dropped in real terms during the No Child Left Behind era. But, it is much worse than that: Not only have children learned less with the "teach to the test" approach, but they've become less creative.

Many of these problems are caused by people in the system who still operate under the assumption that children are not natural learners. They know the system is failing so they have longer days, longer years, more tests, more homework and poorer results.

Those of us involved with learner-centered alternatives believe that children are natural learners. The answers are here and apparent. You just have to be looking for them.

Jerry Mintz

Roslyn Heights

Editor's note: The writer is director of the Alternative Education Resource Organization.

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