In January Scarsdale10583 ran a short survey to gauge reader's opinions on state testing, teacher evaluations and the mandated purchase of computers for the administration of state tests in local schools. Though we only had 45 respondents, our open-ended question on the survey did yield many interesting comments. Here are the overall survey results as well as a sampling of some of our reader comments on these controversial issues:
Question #1: I think that New York State mandates too many tests for student in my district:
Not in this school district. We should have "tested" out of this after 100 years of stellar graduation rates and top notch students ..... Can we see the balance sheets for the company who distributes and grades all of these tests? They must be laughing all the way to the bank!
There is a need for oversight. While Scarsdale may be doing it right not every district is. We should not fear the testing because if our philosophy works we should have good outcomes.
For the amount of state aide Scarsdale receives- tell the state to keep their directives
I think our schools are so great that we should be able to opt out. I think it's obvious that Scarsdale, and to some degree Edgemont are the pinnacle of education. We should be left alone.
Other countries are way ahead of US on testing. We disadvantage our workers and the brightest students by not testing enough, unless tests in the US are poor (vis a vis China, UK, Finland), which is possible. Bad tests should give way to mor
Question #2: I believe that teachers should be evaluated based on their students' results on standardized tests:
To a degree: 60.0%
Students are shaped by parents, other adults, peers, programs, games, their own aptitudes and much more. To load all of that on a teacher, especially in a class of diverse kids (language, nationality, disability), makes little sense, but timed, sequential testing for each student's growth by teacher should be looked at as an important tool for critical review of teacher competence.
I do think we need to evaluate teachers but tests should only be a small factor.
Question #3: Since the state has mandated the purchase of laptops for each student, I would be willing to pay for the laptop(s) for my child(ren).
Most children in Westchester have access to a laptop, note-pad or smartphone equivalent. I hope the state is cognizant of how to use minimal technology to accomplish its goals.
I don't want my children to have portable computers that can leave common areas of the house.
Seriously, either way we end up paying - either buying a laptop ourselves for our children or funding it through a hike in the school tax. Maybe it is more straightforward to buy it ourselves - we can probably get a better deal and have less added overhead cost than putting it on the school budget
The state is not thinking of districts like Scarsdale when they come up with these ideas. I'm sure there are many areas in NY State where unless a laptop is purchased for each child, there may be no good computer access for that child at home. Likewise concerns about evaluating teachers are greater elsewhere. Our concerns are those of the 1%.
I think the use of technology is important, but not at the expense of hiring and keeping good teachers and also providing for their continuing education (the teachers'). It seems counterproductive for schools that are struggling to spend money on a device that has a limited "life expectancy" before it becomes obsolete (as most computers do.)
If the state wants each school to have a computer per child, they better let us have a bigger tax cap or give us money or loan the equipment for the testing!
The current testing craze from the state and federal government is so misguided. There is no research to support that student tests results are a valid measure of teacher quality. It is mostly the opinion of politicians who know little about education.
Testing is ok when it is not too much. I don't want my kids' learning experience become test prep experience (like in China). Now kids are too busy with their eyes. We should ask kids to close their eyes to feel the world with their heart and think about it. There are a lot of things that can not be learned from book and in school.
Too many tests, too much technology. The best way to evaluate a teacher or student is observation and overall results.
Many students freeze during tests. Many students have other issues and need to be tested differently. Many students have some type of learning disability and computer based testing may not be appropriate or show their true ability.