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Letter: School Official Disputes Trustee’s Claims

Larry Wornum’s letter [in the May 7, 2009 edition of] The Westbury Times is highly problematic and somewhat misleading on two significant points. First, he uses a single test to criticize mathematics instruction in Westbury when a more comprehensive and independent evaluation — the State Education Department District Report Card — has recently been made available.

In his letter, Wornum provides data obtained from the April 23 edition of Newsday on results from the 2007-08 Mathematics A and the new integrated Algebra Regents exams. The percentage of students who took the tests and passed at different levels should not be taken in isolation as a measure of the district’s mathematics program.

The New York State School Report Card offers 40 pages of data and explanation in a District Accountability Report, much more than what is revealed in a comparison chart as shown in the newspaper. Further, the measures of accountability established by the state and sanctioned by the federal government under No Child Left Behind, should guide our judgments, actions and decisions. To “cherry pick” individual test results when a more complete review (the State Report Card) has been made available is foolish, to say the least.

Secondly, while I acknowledge that it may be human nature to want to “best” our neighboring districts, such comparisons are often invalid and inappropriate. Tables of test scores published in the press invite comparisons, but a more valid assessment is provided by the state through a grouping of similar schools. The similarities are based on percent free lunch, limited English proficiency, and needs/resource measures.

In no way do I discount the important measure of student progress as evidenced in the Mathematics A exam. Teachers and administrators continually examine test results and make appropriate adjustments to the instructional programs. However, use of a single measure to critique the district’s mathematics program is inappropriate and careless, particularly in light of a more far-reaching analysis recently made available by the State Education Department, which can be seen at

Dr. Robert W. Root
Assistant Superintendent for
Curriculum, Instruction and Personnel
Westbury School District