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Encourage Good Teachers

The city needs a better way to evaluate teacher performance. Teachers don’t want to be evaluated solely by scores on standardized tests and graduation rates.

In a letter to The New York Times, one teacher wrote, “If I must be judged on scores and not on my ability to inspire students to love learning, to love literature and learn about life from it, and to find their writer’s voice, it’s a sad day for all of us.”

There were times last year when City Hall and the city Department of Education went to war with the teachers and their union, but teachers want a meaningful evaluation system that is fair and thoughtful.

A study by the Gates Foundation concludes that “teachers overwhelmingly agree that student growth over the course of an academic year is the most important metric in measuring their performance.”

In addition, the study says, teachers might be evaluated by in-class observations and performance reviews.

This, of course, is far more complicated than judging teachers by standardized tests, but in the long run we want teachers who can infuse their students with a love of learning and curiosity about the world and a desire to do something with their lives.

What we don’t want are teachers whose focus is preparing students to ace standardized tests.

The DOE must take the time to find better ways to measure teacher effectiveness, ways that encourage teacher excellence.

This year we hope City Hall and the teachers and their union can work together to create better schools.

Mixed Message

In a poignant letter to the editor, Jennifer Levy, a health educator, criticizes stores for putting cigarettes at the eye level of young children.

“We have many laws protecting children’s health, such as child safety seats and bicycle helmets,” she wrote, “but why is there no discussion of a ban on tobacco advertising that is aimed at youth?”

To that we repeat our complaint that most major Queens pharmacies sell cigarettes at the front register, often next to drugs designed to help people quit smoking.

Talk about a mixed message.

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