Esmiol should be supported
Dear Editor:The Aspen Middle School teacher, Sam Esmiol, who refused to administer the CSAP made a courageous and correct stand and should be supported for his efforts to halt the runaway train called the accountability movement in education.The state of Colorado is not alone in its attempts to measure English language learners’ academic skills using tests designed to be administered to fluent English speakers. This highly diverse population brings different linguistic, cultural, educational and socioeconomic backgrounds, all of which impact test results. The accommodations that the state of Colorado allows include oral translation of the math and science portions of the CSAP. However, as Mr. Esmiol correctly asserted, the translation undermines the validity and reliability of the test itself when the translations are not standardized. It is important to note that what is unfair are the results of the test – they may not reflect a student’s knowledge due to faulty translations.Assessment is used to help teachers, students and parents understand what kids know and don’t know. There are a variety of ways to demonstrate knowledge, including performances, demonstrations, writing research papers, portfolios of students’ work and tests. The best approach is to allow a variety of measures to indicate what students know and have learned.The overemphasis on state-mandated tests that are used to dole out punitive measures to schools must stop. Teachers like Mr. Esmiol should be supported for questioning the validity of this type of evidence of student learning. He stands for many educators who are against the politicization of the daily experience of learning and who are calling for the transformation of the No Child Left Behind Act, an underfunded mandate which has narrowed instruction and demeaned schools with an unhelpful accountability system.Dr. Elizabeth MeadorPortland, Ore.
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