To the editor: The Times' articles on teacher evaluation based on the new Common Core standardized test scores released last week do not illuminate the real problem facing American education today: How do we define and evaluate quality teaching? ("Standardized tests don't help us evaluate teachers," Op-Ed, Sept. 10
Common Core is neither a new curriculum nor a new way of teaching. Based on reams of brain studies that show the ways in which all children learn, Common Core's basic tenets have been around for several decades and really call for a new sort of person in the classroom, one who subtly guides students to learn when they don't realize they are doing so. Test scores are a road map to diagnose the weakness of lessons.
The hope is that students are prepared for college, which want young people who are creative, collaborative and goal directed. Yet we train teachers to follow the curriculum, the lesson plan model or government policies.
If we expect to graduate students with modern thinking skills, we need teachers who think on their own, are thinkers in their classrooms and who think of themselves as true professionals, not hired hands.
Bob Bruesch, Rosemead
The writer, a teacher, is a member of the Garvey School District Board of Education.
To the editor: I know why test scores are lower and why students are not prepared for college. It has less to do with the schools and much more to do with the students' home lives.
I attended some of the worst schools in the nation. However, my very busy, very high-achieving parents took the time to make sure that every word that came out of my mouth was correct English grammar and pronunciation; they had me look up the meanings of any words I did not understand from their advanced vocabulary; and they made sure I was reading books in addition to school requirements.
Television watching was limited to one hour a day, seven days a week. They also took me to museums, made sure I was exposed to cultures outside my own upper-middle-class world and made me volunteer to help the less fortunate.
I went on to get a doctorate in clinical psychology. With the right guidance at home, students can thrive educationally even with some of the worst schools.
Christopher Knippers, Palm Springs