is a month of remembrance, of soldiers who perished fighting valiantly
for our country, and of mothers who fought for us and were our
staunchest defenders. Mothers nurture, comfort, advise and help
us and can be our best friends. I remember my motherís kindness
and wisdom and the pain of losing her while I was in high school.
I can only imagine how she would have enjoyed the ensuing years
of celebrating milestones together: marriage, grandchildren, career
successes, and simply sharing in our daily lives. She missed a
great deal and I miss her so much.
This issue celebrates mothers and daughters, their impact on each
otherís lives, their unique relationship. Our interviews with
Erica Jong and Molly Jong Fast, and Matilda Cuomo and Maria Cuomo
Cole are filled with the love, warmth and tenderness that uniquely
characterize mother-daughter dyads. And, as Matilda Cuomo said,
no matter how intense the arguments between mothers and daughters,
they will always forgive each other.
Testing, Testing, 1-2-3
President Bush says yes, test the children more. New York State
Commissioner of Education Richard P. Mills says yes, test the
children more. The Chancellor agrees but allows for certain schools
to continue to use alternative methods such as portfolio evaluations.
Now, the Alliance for Childhood, a national partnership of educators,
health professionals, researchers and other child advocates, is
raising questions about the health implications of President Bushís
proposal to increase standardized testing of public-school students.
Standardized tests enable us to have benchmarks: how much has
a student learned in a subject area; how much knowledge did a
student gain from one year to another; how do students compare
in performance to each other. Standardized tests like the SAT,
LSAT and MCAT have been used for decades to help colleges, law
schools and medical schools decide on their choice of future student
bodies. However, standardized tests cannot pinpoint studentsí
strengths and weaknesses or help teachers decide on the best teaching
modes for certain students. That goal is best served by individualized
testing of students by teachers or portfolio evaluation.
If standardized tests are increased with the rigor that federal
and state governments are mandating, teachers will be under pressure
to statistically prove their students are high performers. The
end result will be teaching to the test.
The true test should be given to teachers to ensure they are the
best and brightest for our children. The Bank Street College of
Education currently prepares future principals by choosing the
best through rigorous testing. The Chancellorís Teaching Fellows
Program also screens future teachers for excellence.
The true test is how to revise the curriculum to ensure students
are learning. At Weill Medical College of Cornell University the
curriculum was revised from lecture based learning to problem
based learning. The new group took the National Board examinations,
given after completion of the first two years of medical school,
and achieved the highest scores in the history of Cornell.
What is the true challenge? It is to instill in students, a joy
of learning that will lead not only to higher test scores but
will build an enlightened citizenry.
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