September 24, 2012

Letters to the Editor: Sept. 24, 2012

Evaluating students

TO THE EDITOR:  A most respected philosopher and mathematical genius, Alfred North Whitehead, had this to say about education in 1929: “What is needed is an eye for the whole chessboard, for the bearing of one set of ideas on another.”

Failure to see relationships may be represented in the following example. The news media recently reported a 2012 National Blue Ribbon School award granted to Chazy Rural School, a teacher strike in Chicago against the proposed implementation of a plan to use achievement test scores to evaluate teachers and a truthful column by Steve Quellette, entitled, “First grade sets course for life.”

All of these reports are directly related to the U.S. Office of Education’s Race to the Top; they all have in common the mandatory use of standardized tests as the measure of student achievement.

Add one more report, Pearson Education, the British, multi-national conglomerate that controlled the development of the most recent battery of standardized tests administered in public schools this past May, will take over teacher certification in New York state in May 2014.

The problem with all these events could be put in context if one simple but profound premise was to be injected into the mix. No two people are identical in this world, not their DNA, not their experiences nor what they have done with their experiences. And no standardized test (one-size-fits-all) can measure the achievements of these individuals as they grow and develop along their unique developmental sequence.

Are there alternatives to standardized tests that can accurately measure achievement that is truly individually oriented rather than grade-level oriented? Absolutely. One is the Constructive Assessment, Recordkeeping and Evaluation System (CARES), developed by this author.

If this is important to you, contact me at


Professor of education, emeritus

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