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Letter: Student tests editorial missed on several points

The editorial from Jan. 24 criticizing our state elected officials for decoupling student test scores from teacher evaluations missed the mark. I am not representing my district or school board in writing this letter, but I do serve on a school board. I am also a parent.

The bill that passed in Albany will continue to confuse our teacher evaluation system, and it will likely do little to de-link student test scores from teacher evaluations, but that is what the author believes will happen and clearly sees that as a bad thing.

Here’s why I find fault with the article’s over-confidence in testing:

• Kids deserve an education that is engaging, challenging and joyful. Believing that good marks on a state test ensure future success for our kids, or are an indication of being “well educated” is false thinking. If our kids are getting a great education they may do well on the tests, but doing well on the tests doesn’t mean they are getting a great, age-appropriate, modern world-appropriate education;

• Parents, teachers, administrators, and school board members want teacher evaluations. We want those evaluations to be challenging, thought provoking and useful;

• Making test scores part of teacher and school evaluations inevitably leads to a focus on the test: a focus on measuring the subjects and the content that are easiest to measure rather than what is most important to measure.

Teachers need to be evaluated. Schools need to be learning communities where adults and students are always learning, reflecting and thinking, incorporating feedback and improving. Taking test scores out of evaluations doesn’t change this reality. And, unfortunately, the bill that passed the legislature won’t in fact take student test results out of teacher evaluations, and will certainly impede efforts to change and improve how we assess student performance and growth.

Allison Duwe


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