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New York City
May 2001

May 2001 Editorials

Motherís Day

May 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.

 

Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel: (212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: ednews1@aol.com.
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of the publisher. © 2001.




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©1997 Susan May Tell,
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