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OpinionLetters

Separate test results from teacher evaluations

A teacher writing on a white board.

A teacher writing on a white board. Photo Credit: iStock.

As a former academic department chairman, president of an administrator’s union and classroom teacher for 36 years, I am unable to stay quiet any longer about the ridiculous 2011 law that mandates student scores on standardized tests be part of teacher evaluations [“‘Double tests’ debate,” News, May 8].

The law might be appropriate for “top 200 school districts” where financial fortunes are common and home values compete with Trump Tower rents. It doesn’t seem appropriate for any Long Island district serving working-class families.

And what happened to deprive our society of kids with learning problems? Students have different needs and require teachers with different skills, training and personalities. Teachers should be rated based on their expertise with children assigned to them regardless of their test-taking abilities.

As a department chairman, I valued colleagues who lovingly sought classes of more challenged students. This law makes it harder to match the right students with the right teachers.

James Gough,New Hyde Park

Teachers want to be evaluated accurately. A positive evaluation confirms that one is providing the education students need. A poor evaluation affords the teacher, with the aid of administrators, the opportunity to explore ways to improve. Genuine evaluation is an important aspect of any endeavor. But “genuine” is key. Teachers care about test scores, as they help teachers adjust and better deliver content. But scores on standardized tests do not reflect the effectiveness of a teacher. For example:

  • A teacher with high-performing students might not challenge them, but the students can still perform well. This could lead to a positive evaluation.
  • A teacher can lead students of limited ability, special-education students or students newly arrived in the country, for example, to vast improvement that is not indicated by answers to multiple-choice questions. This could lead to a poor evaluation.

The current legislative proposal does not go far enough. Fifty percent of a teacher’s evaluation would still be tied to some sort of student assessment. To genuinely evaluate a teacher, remove student assessments from the process. Each district should collaboratively decide on an evaluation process. Let educational professionals evaluate educators.

James Kinnier,

Sag Harbor

Editor’s note: The writer teaches math at Pierson High School in Sag Harbor and is president of the Teachers Association of Sag Harbor.

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