Regarding the James Gill opinion piece on students and testing:

Great. Just great. Let’s pile on the kids again. I’m a regular reader of Gill and generally find him amusing. This is not amusing.

I know he didn’t write the headline, but please: “Louisiana kids also failing at cheating”? Kids had nothing to do with any of this except perhaps following the instructions from their instructors. Maybe even that didn’t happen. Maybe the score sheets were manipulated some way.

Since the debut of standardized test scores being tied to school and student performance scores, cheating has been an inevitable, surely unintended byproduct. The pressure is immense on schools to reach certain scores. Does this mean the school is better if it does? Or, are students smarter if they do? Better prepared to succeed in life? I say no, unequivocally.

Test scores are an indication of progress and that’s all they should ever be. The only truly effective way to use test scores to improve student performance is to compare one single student’s performance one year against his or her performance on similar measures the next year. Then, and only then, can a teacher prepare for that student’s needs.

Teachers know this. Most teachers, I would venture to guess, despise the amount and importance of standardized testing. They’d much prefer an environment where students are actively engaged in learning. But I digress.

When pressure is put on schools to increase test scores, that pressure can be implemented nefariously through only one party: the person in charge. To drag students into this mess, even in his usual satirical style, is a low blow from Gill and in bad taste. Shame on you, James. You can do better than that.

Carol Allen

former superintendent, New Orleans Public Schools

New Orleans