Letters to the Editor
I want to commend Roland S. Barth for his efforts to bring schools and universities closer together in his recent commentary ("Can We Make a Match of Schools and Universities?" Education Week, Nov. 28, 1984). However, there appears to be an underlying assumption that the fault with American education lies with the public schools and not with the universities.
Mr. Barth, as a former elementary-school principal, should know that this is an erroneous assumption. Considering the myriad problems confronting public education today, those of us in the trenches believe we do a first-rate job! Hence, part of the problem with public education has to rest with the universities, especially those that are responsible for training teachers.
The teacher-training institutions are notorious for their ineffectiveness in preparing future teachers. The focus of concern by the public should not be on the quality of instruction, but rather on the quality of the instructors' instruction. Many experts in the field of teacher education agree that teacher education is and ought to be the next focus for those trying to improve the public schools.
If Mr. Barth truly wants the schools and universities to work more closely with each other, a unique opportunity to accomplish this task exists in the coming teacher-shortage crisis. If public-school educators, as he contends, possess the expertise and extraordinary insights needed in their craft, then perhaps they should be given an opportunity by the universities to join in partnerships and take a more active role in the training of teachers.
Efforts in all corners of the country are being made to attract the brightest and most qualified students to the teaching profession. All types of incentives are being considered for these students. The question that needs to be asked is, once these students decide on a teaching career, are we going to allow them to be exposed to the same teacher-training programs that universities have offered in the past and that generations of previous teachers have had to endure? It's a well-known fact that teacher training is perhaps the biggest running joke in higher education.
All of the suggested recommendations that Mr. Barth sets forth to encourage a closer relationship between universities and public schools can be realized by working toward the mutual goal of the training of teachers. We owe it to the future of high-quality public education to put aside our differences and to work as equals in the crucial task of training the next generation of teachers.
Joseph A. Ricciotti Principal Riverfield School Fairfield, Conn.
Does Not Change
E.T.S. Test Policies
To the Editor:
Your recent article on the out-of-court settlement between the Golden Rule Insurance Company and the Educational Testing Service and the Illinois Department of Insurance ("Test Organization, Insurance Firm Settle Bias Suit: Parties Disagree Strongly On Agreement's Impact," Education Week, Dec. 5, 1984) may leave an erroneous impression that ets has been forced to undertake dramatic new procedures that will have a major impact on the licensing and admission tests it develops.
Actually, the settlement does not commit ets either to major innovations or departures from existing practices in various ets testing programs, nor does it require major changes in how ets develops its tests. ets has conducted more than 60 studies of differential group performance (for example, by race and sex) on tests and test questions in a number of programs. It employs the results of such analyses to improve its test process on a continuing basis. The Golden Rule settlement simply represents an extension of these practices, in more specific form for the state of Illinois only, with regard to life-, accident-, and health-insurance-licensing tests.
The settlement does not require ets to change the nature or form of its insurance-licensing test, which will continue to be based on the knowledge requirements of the entry-level insurance agent's job as determined by a nationally conducted job analysis. Nor must ets automatically eliminate test questions with particular statistical characteristics. Rather, it simply provides that appropriate questions with a specified minimum correct-answer rate for all candidates, and with minimum black-white response differences, be used in the licensing test before such questions with greater differences.
Regarding other parts of the settlement agreement, copies of test forms are already publicly available for the uniform portion of the insurance-licensing test and have been since 1980. Reading levels of the existing test forms already meet or are lower than the reading-level requirement cited in the settlement. Racial data are regularly collected and analyzed and reports of test results by race are routinely published in a number of ets programs, and now will be for the Illinois insurance-licensing test as well.
ets has been committed and continues to be committed to preventing racial and ethnic bias in tests and to assuring that its tests are fair to all groups. A variety of methods, including a mandatory sensitivity review of all questions developed for all its tests, are routinely used for this purpose. ets will continue to work to prevent bias in tests and will consider all reasonable and effective methods toward that end.
The Golden Rule settlement permitted the conclusion of an eight-year-old court suit on terms that were mutually acceptable to the Illinois Department of Insurance and ets and to the Golden Rule plaintiffs. All claims of the plaintiffs of discrimination, and for several million dollars in damages and substantial lawyers' fees were dropped. The procedures agreed to are consistent with ets practices generally. ets and the Illinois Insurance Department consider the settlement to be a very favorable and constructive resolution.
Gregory R. Anrig President Educational Testing Service Princeton, N.J.
If Teachers Want To Be
Seen As 'Professional,'
They Must Be 'Professional'
To the Editor:
As an educator, classroom teacher, and principal, I have noticed recently the growing concern among educators and the lay public about the actions of the National Education Association.
Teachers across the country are concerned about being perceived as professionals by the public and the media. While many people feel that teachers should be compensated adequately with salary and fringe benefits, my observations, locally and through the national media, are that the public is not sympathetic with supporting teachers in strike and walkout efforts.
The Reader's Digest published a revealing anti-nea article in its May 1984 issue called "Guess Who Spells Disaster for Education?" Several letters and articles have appeared in your paper this fall concerning the nea This interest indicates a groundswell of public and professional concern and rejection of the group from educators and interested groups.
There is a growing movement in this country that feels teachers are not in the same vocational category as truck drivers and steel workers. If teachers wish to be perceived as professionals, they must act like professionals.
Many states are experiencing the development of groups that label themselves as "professional educators." I am a member of such an organization, Mississippi Professional Educators.
Groups like ours have the philosophy that students come first. We endorse ambitious programs to state legislatures but do not endorse candidates or parties. Even though we are opposed to strikes, we feel that teachers should not be mistreated. It is the opinion of groups such as mpe that more productive use can be made of joint efforts between teachers, administrators, legislatures, and the public than can be realized through adversarial relationships. Professionals do not strike.
We must improve public relations and work through the home in order to move toward what we persist in referring to as "improving education." We must do this as allies, not as adversaries.
Michael B. Young Principal Bruce Elementary School Bruce, Miss.
A Headline Leaves
False Impression That
Court Affirmed Decision
To the Editor:
As a professor specializing in education law, my primary reason for subscribing to Education Week is that it provides particularly up-to-date information on recent court decisions. You do an excellent job in this and other important areas.
Thus, I was surprised to see in a recent issue an item entitled "High Court Upholds Psychotherapy as 'Related Service,"' (Education Week, Jan. 9, 1985). The word "upholds" in the title leaves the impression that the Court affirmed, either summarily or by full opinion, the Third Circuit's decision in Piscataway Township Board of Education v. T.G. The description in the accompanying news item that the Court "let stand" the lower court's ruling "without comment" left the impression that the decision was summary affirmance.
Rather, the Court's ruling in this case was a denial of certiorari, which does not have any precedential effect.
Perry A. Zirkel University Professor School of Administration and Supervision Programs Lehigh University Bethlehem, Pa.
Editor's note: We appreciate the writer's alertness and regret the error.