Letters to the Editor of the LA Times | August 21, 2009
It doesn't matter whether the mayor, the LAUSD or Green Dot administers the schools.
It doesn't matter if the teachers are brand new or long experienced.
What matters is whether or not the parents emphasize education and make sure their children attend school every day and do their schoolwork at home and in the classroom. Read your own articles.
Has Marshall Tuck, chief executive of the mayor's Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, been to a high school during these tests? It is a chaotic, frantic time for administrators and teachers, but for many students, it's a break from the daily routine.
These tests have little, if any, significance for the high school student.
For most teenagers, these state tests come after a long barrage of testing, including the high school exit exam, SATs, PSATs and midterms (all of which are more consequential to the individual student).
By the time they are administered, the mandated tests come almost as a relief for students. Is it any wonder that scores are so low?
We need a better system of accountability in which test scores matter to all parties involved, not just to politicians and administrators.
Put yourself in front of 40 or so streetwise, know-it-all adolescents from an inner-city school, some of whom have local gang affiliations. Then come up with three compelling reasons why these students should excel on a standardized test. This is what I faced every day during my career as a teacher in an inner-city school.
Remember that on a standardized test you cannot call the student's parents. You cannot make the score part of the final grade. You cannot force students to come in for after-school tutoring. And you cannot offer a fully paid college scholarship either. In fact, students don't even see their test score results until five to six months later.
Might this be a reason test scores are so lackluster? What you are getting is not a measurement of students' progress but what a bunch of bored, blase teenagers think of a test that has as much relevance to their daily lives as a war of cockroaches on one of the moons of Uranus.
William Joseph Miller
Although it may not be politically correct to say so, the major thing that test scores tell us is which schools have lots of low-income kids and which schools house their wealthier counterparts.
Researchers have analyzed many variables. The one that correlates with test scores at an acceptable level of research significance is per capita income. Consequently, Beverly Hills kids score higher than inner-city kids.
If politicians and others were really serious about improving test scores, they would reinstitute President Lyndon Johnson's famous War on Poverty.
Unfortunately, the middle class seems to be dwindling while other groups increase. And the test scores in school districts will undoubtedly continue to reflect this phenomenon.
"Not a single student scored as proficient in geometry" at Locke High School, your editorial says. This should be a big red flag for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Supt. Ramon C. Cortines and the L.A. school board.
College prep for all is relegating large numbers of students to mediocrity.
I teach high school math, but I have notebooks full of outstanding student art. Students who are creative with their hands should be given the choice of countless career paths that have nothing to do with college.
But the parents are brainwashed that a college degree is the only measure of success. We teachers know otherwise, but we are the last ones the powers-that-be listen to.
After reading your article and after spending a long day as a kindergarten teacher in an LAUSD school, I just wanted to express my frustration.
I work at a poor-performing year-round school in the Pico-Union area, and I have been a teacher for 25 years.
I have been an inner-city teacher my entire career -- and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. However, there are a unique set of problems here. Most of our students are limited English speakers (Spanish and Indian dialects), live in poverty and have parental support that is sketchy at best. The state tests that count are the ones taken in English.
All of our students progress at an incredible rate, but it's not enough. My school year started recently, and only two out of 16 children in my kindergarten class went to preschool.
How is it possible that the teachers at my school, and schools like mine, have to take the blame for scores when it takes many years to speak, read and write a new language proficiently?
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