Test Score Rankings for Lower Manhattan Schools

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To the editor:

Regarding the fantastic test score rankings of the Lower Manhattan school district: I would love to see a study done showing how many kids needed extracurricular tutoring to ensure these standards could be met.

My older child attended PS234 which was fantastic – he exited the school with an excellent grasp of math, grammar, spelling, history, social awareness-all the basics and then some. But my second child went to Spruce Street School where I was forced to spend hours after school to bring this bright (excellent grades, good behavior) child to basic elementary school levels-for example, we spent all summer teaching this middle-schooler the multiplication tables because Spruce specifically forbade first, second, and third-graders from memorizing any facts (citing the need to “show work” on standardized tests). From first grade on, it was standard to “peer review” without a teacher ever seeing the work: for both homework and in-class assignments. When I worried over basic grammar in third grade (periods, capital letters), the administration advised me to hire a tutor if it bothered me.

My guess is that a study would show that most parents at that school hired tutors or put in the hours at home to teach their kids the basics. School policy was to move on to advanced concepts like essay structure and voice without ever teaching spelling rules or basic grammar.

Sure these schools all look equally great on paper, but it might not be the schools we should commend, it might be the exhausted parents.

-Milda M. De Voe

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