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Too much rides on state’s flawed standardized education tests

Sunday, April 28, 2013
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Too much rides on state’s flawed standardized education tests

Once again, New York state educational testing is under way, and this year it’s worse than ever.

Elementary- and middle-school students are expected to sit for six days during grueling, 90-minute sessions of testing. Many cry, many have upset stomachs and many don’t finish.

Some say this testing is important because it will provide data on teachers and schools, holding them accountable for student growth and progress. But what does this data represent? They aren’t really criterion-referenced tests, as a “curve” is applied based on student achievement.

Based on that model, there will always be [groups] of students who “fall below the curve.” The tests are also notoriously inconsistent and unreliable, most notably in 2003, when only 37 percent of those who took the Math A Regents exam achieved a passing grade and the test results were declared null and void.

Test questions are, at times, so ambiguous that veteran teachers cannot come to a consensus on a correct answer. Pearson, the company that partners with state Education [Department] to create these tests, is also the company that participates in creating the grading scale. If students don’t achieve at a Pearson-determined level, don’t worry: Pearson sells textbooks, online intervention programs and review materials.

In some cases, actual reading passages found in Pearson books appear on state exams, which means schools that buy Pearson products may be getting an unfair advantage. A conflict of interest of this nature in any other sector of society would be considered a profound ethical violation. Why is it OK in our schools?

The tests that our children are compelled to take don’t necessarily evaluate their learning, the quality of their schools or the efficacy of their teachers. Ask anyone who’s been swept up in this testing tide — parents of school-aged children, teachers or school administrators .

You will be hard pressed to find anyone who believes this testing is good for kids or has improved anything about education. The only thing that seems to be improving is Pearson’s monopoly.

Kristin Trapini

Scotia

Council Democrats need to stop ignoring Riggi

Re the article about the “secret” meeting of City Council Democrats excluding Vice Riggi [“City goes online for bids,” April 23]:

Mr. Riggi is an elected official by the people of this city. He represents us. Council members need to stop the pettiness and act like mature individuals who are supposed to be looking out for the welfare of this city — not themselves.

It is time to grow up and act responsibly!

Mary Jane Foley

Rotterdam

War in the United States taking its toll

As an American, I am taken aback at what is happening in our great country — the way people from our country, plus those from other countries, treat our country.

All there seems to be is one tragedy after another, with the people to blame for them, not caring what they do. Then, after the tragedy, we are always trying to find out what prompted the people to do it.

Just as my stomach settles down from one event, another terrible thing happens. It has to be so hard for the families of the people who are having things done to them, as well as the families of the people doing them.

Our servicemen and women are fighting for our freedom, but it looks like we have another war zone right here in the United States.

Walter “Neal” Brazell

Rotterdam

Tedisco critic is still reliving failed campaign

Re April 24 letter, “Tedisco claimed he backed equal pay, but voted no”: Looks like more sour grapes from failed Assembly candidate Michele Draves in her latest venom-filled letter to the editor.

Ms. Draves is clearly having a hard time accepting the fact she lost the election. It’s clear that she and those who promote this so-called “equal pay” bill feel that if you tell a lie long enough, enough people will believe it. The bill that Ms. Draves is referring to wouldn’t create equal pay for equal work, but equal pay for different work. It allows faceless bureaucrats to define equal levels of compensation for jobs that require different types of training and education, levels of experience, work skills, job titles, workplace conditions, services and production.

I agree with what Assemblyman Jim Tedisco said at that debate when he asked why a woman who works harder, shows up on time and is more productive at a job, should be paid less than a man who is chronically late and not as productive. That’s just not fair. If a woman excels in her job as compared to a male colleague, she should be paid more than the man, not the same.

What’s most concerning is in the midst of the [Assemblyman] Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal, Ms. Draves was silent — when people from both parties, including Tedisco, called for the powerful New York City Democrat’s resignation. No true advocate for women’s equality would sit silent in the face of serial harassment.

Ms. Draves was trounced in the election. She needs to get over it.

Caitlin Mackesey

Clifton Park

We don’t eat pets, and shouldn’t our horses

Re April 19 article, “Bill to outlaw horse slaughter draws GOP, Democrat sponsors”: Mr. [Assemblyman James] Tedisco’s recent action to stop the practice of horse slaughter for meat should be applauded.

Far too many times, these animals are cast aside as worthless pawns in an effort to make a quick buck. We revel in the fact that they perform on the track for our enjoyment, and profit if we are lucky, but quickly forget their real worth. Any horse, no matter who the owner, has a connection to them for a feeling of care and well being.

They are no different than your cute little lhasa or terrier pet. Would you think of sending them to a slaughterhouse to be ground into a taco? Don’t think so.

Horses have been domesticated for many purposes, and in some cultures, yes, for meat. But in America they are really quite special. They have worked behind plows to plant grain so people can eat and survive, they have carried generals into battle to protect our freedom, and they have given some of us companionship, loyalty and, yes, love as family members. They deserve care and respect so they can end their lives in some kind of dignity.

My hat is off to Jim Tedisco and [Sen.] Kathy Marchione for their efforts.

Neil Hasbrouck

Duanesburg

Teacher inflexible over military commitment

Thank you for the April 21 article about my grandson, Jarrod Fowler, and his friends Kaitlyn Mausert and Wyatt Peters, for the prestigious honor they received in having their play “Simplicity” accepted by the Newburgh Free Academy.

However, there was one very important piece of information missing from your report: Jarrod received a zero from his teacher for the work because he couldn’t be in school that day — as he had to report for the physical needed for his acceptance into the Air National Guard, of which he is now a member.

Jarrod is now the fourth member of my family (son, granddaughter, grandson-in-law) to serve in the military. I would like to publicly castigate this teacher for her ill treatment of a future member of the U.S. Air Force.

Barbara J. Kerr

Schenectady

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comments

April 29, 2013
9:09 a.m.
steveleary1 says...

I am not sure what to think of the "Standardized Test" problem. Back in the 60's and 70's when I was in school we all took State tests, Regents, SATs etc. We were not allowed to use calculators. I would be curious to see the results of a Senior High School class taking a SAT from say from 1970 ( which we all had to take) without the use of a calculator to see how today's students compare.

April 29, 2013
7:05 p.m.
robbump says...

Regarding "We don’t eat pets, and shouldn’t our horses" - well, we don't race our pets either to the point where their bones or organs fail and either they die or we must shoot them. Stop RAISING horses if you, Tedesco & Marchione are so concerned about their welfare.
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NEWSFLASH: There's nothing special about horses compared to any other animal. You can take special care of the ones that may have been YOUR special pet, worker or companion and leave those that were not so "special" to their owners to the destination deemed appropriate to those owners. Stop hugging trees, er horses.
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And I WOULD at least sample a bit of Fido or Fluffy too, as far as what we do to our pets.

May 2, 2013
7:54 a.m.
wmarincic says...

Jarrod Fowler, Thank you for you're commitment to the military. I have a son and daughter in the Army and my niece has been in the Air Force for 13 years now. They are all happy with their career choices. There is no greater honor than to serve your country in the military. God Bless.

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