Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
A study of Texas' teacher-competency test, you report in your "Teachers" column (Sept. 6, 1989), showed that 96.7 percent of those who took the basic-skills test in 1986 passed on their first try and that, after a second chance, 99 percent passed.
According to your report, the researchers attributed the high passing rate to preparation that "concentrated on test-taking techniques." The study concluded that the test was ineffective in removing incompetent teachers--or at least those incompetent in basic skills.
Using the same data, I would offer an alternative set of conclusions:
The test was effective in removing incompetent teachers; there just weren't many of them. (Why assume there were more?)
Test preparation either improved basic skills or taught teachers how not to be tricked by test makers. If the test was effective--and there is no proof that it wasn't--then Texas teachers are competent in basic skills.
Texas colleges have been doing an excellent job of preparing teachers, and school districts of selecting them.
We are now having a similar problem with student-oriented state tests. Every time students do well, the state raises the passing score.
Rather than accept the idea that teachers and students are doing well, the state seems determined to believe that some specific percentage of students should fail. It will keep raising the passing score until its prophecy is fulfilled.
Apparently the state does not know the difference between a norm-referenced and a criterion-referenced test. Everyone can pass a criterion-referenced test.
Terry Northup McMurry College Abilene, Tex.
To the Editor:
Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers, claims that allowing parents to use federally funded vouchers to purchase child care at religiously oriented institutions "would cause real damage to our country's social fabric" ("Coalition Backs Measure To Prohibit Federal Aid for Sectarian Child Care," Sept. 27, 1989).
How could Mr. Shanker deny or forget that the "social fabric" of this country is virtually saturated with religion?
Remember "in God we trust" or "one nation under God"?
Mr. Shanker and his minions are simply concerned that parents might want to choose how and where their children will receive day care--that they might want to exercise their prerogative as primary educators.
Why the panic, Mr. Shanker? Might the handwriting be on the wall?
Carol A. Cimino, S.S.J. Troy, N.Y.
To the Editor:
We were pleased with your report on Connecticut's program for supporting and assessing the classroom performance of beginning teachers ("In Connecticut, Moving Past Pencil and Paper," Sept. 13, 1989).
I would like to add a note, however, about the process by which the program was developed.
The education department went to great lengths to involve educators at all levels throughout the state.
Hundreds of educators contributed, including higher-education faculty, district administrators and teachers, and staff from the state's regional educational-service centers.
I also want to call attention to the important contributions made by our support contractors.
Rmc Research Corporation of Hampton, N.H., has expertly assisted in developing the Connecticut Competency Instrument, designing the assessor-training program, and preparing training videotapes and manuals.
Professional Examination Service of New York City has provided expertise in scoring and standard setting, and contracts with the state's six regional service centers have ensured sufficient staffing to implement the program statewide.
Cynthia L. Jorgensen Project Leader best Assessment Program Department of Education Hartford, Conn.