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Teachers on Teachers

A federal mandate to use standardized tests for students in public schools has put teachers under a harsher spotlight. Not only will their students be judged more sternly, but teachers are likely to be held accountable for test results.

Happily, 87 percent of public school teachers in the US say students should pass a standardized test to be promoted, according to a survey released Wednesday by the polling research firm Public Agenda. That's a big boost for the 2001 No Child Left Behind education law mandating such testing.

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But about half the teachers say the tests are "seriously flawed." That's a signal that test designs are overly influenced by a top-down political drive for testing instead of an emphasis on local education standards.

But teachers also say more can be done to clean out their own ranks. More than one-third find it's too hard for administrators to remove any but the very worst teachers, while another third say administrators fail to use their authority to get rid of bad ones. About 1 in 5 wants the local teachers' union to sometimes back off and let incompetent teachers be fired.

Few parents are aware of such attitudes in their schools. But with these kind of insights on teachers, parents can better ask for changes that would improve their child's education.


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