Readers React

Testing teachers and students

Thank you for recognizing that the standardized test scores of students are unreliable indicators of teacher quality. ("Casting doubt on linking teacher evaluations to test scores," Editorial, May 13)

Using them to gauge teacher effectiveness gained popularity among non-educators seeking a cheap, black-and-white method for measuring teaching and learning, which are extremely complex. If you want to find out which students are good test takers, come to class regularly and have strong parental support, bubble-in standardized tests are fairly good at identifying them.

Teachers welcome fair and accurate ways to measure their effectiveness. Now that would be real reform.

Kurt Page

Laguna Niguel

Having taught high school for 30 years in California, I know that success in the classroom is all about motivation.

If you want to motivate teachers, you must first motivate students to demand more of their teachers. I loved students who cared enough to challenge me intellectually.

If you want to motivate students to perform better, you must first motivate the parents.

How? Easy: Start holding students accountable for their test scores. Parents do not like to see their kids fail. Thus, you motivate the parents to motivate the students and the teachers to do their very best.

I once tried to explain to a student from China how our system holds teachers accountable using a test that students are free to flunk. His reaction: "Who came up with this crazy system?"

Peter S. Krimmel


The Times takes the top prize for avoiding accountability.

After its news side released "value-added" scores for teachers based on test data, the paper's editorial board has moved away from that position after a study was done by a USC professor who was baked by the prime movers of this method of understanding learning.

I taught for 30 years, and the one thing I learned about standardized tests is that the vast majority of students do not care about them. They have no impact on them or their grades or who they are going to the prom with.

Somehow, this basic reality known by teachers escapes the experts.

Stephen McCarthy


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