Thursday, April 03, 2014

Common Core Testing: How's that Going?

For some, not well.

There's a new site, Testing Talk, that allows teachers and principals to talk about how it went and what they observed. (No, they don't give away any deep, dark test questions or secrets.)

From the NYC Public School Parents blog:
Liz Phillips, principal of PS 321 in Brooklyn, who was scathing about the 2012 exam as well, but says this one was as bad or worse.

PS 321 PARENTS--Our 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders have just completed three days of the New York State English Language Arts Exam. Your children were wonderful and worked incredibly hard. On the whole, we think that we were able to protect them from the worst stresses of the test, and most seemed fine during most of the exam. However, the teachers and administration are truly devastated by what a terrible test it was and how little it will tell us about our students.

Because we are bound by test security, we cannot reveal details but we can tell you that we have never seen an ELA exam that does a worse job of testing reading comprehension. There was inappropriate content, many highly ambiguous questions, and a focus on structure rather than meaning of passages. Our teachers and administrators feel that this test is an insult to the profession of teaching and that students’ scores on it will not correlate with their reading ability.

Because of this, the staff has decided to hold a protest outside of school TOMORROW, FRIDAY, APRIL 4, FROM 8:15-8:35 to express their extreme dissatisfaction with the ELA exam. Parents are invited to join the staff before going into classrooms for Family Friday.

That must have been one bad test if the staff - with the principal - are holding a protest.

  • Day 3 of the Common Core NYS ELA is absurd. The third grade test includes an excerpt from a book that, according to Scholastic, is written at a Grade Level Equivalent of 5.2. Its Lexile Measure is 650L, and it’s categorized as a Level X Guided Reading selection. Yet, it appears on a test that has been written for third grade students.
  • I am the Principal of a 3rd and 4th Grade diverse building, and I am highly disappointed in these tests. While Days 1 and 2 were challenging for our students, Day 3, particularly for 3rd Grade was poorly written, developmentally inappropriate and soul crushing for our students and their teachers. Students did not have enough time on ANY of these books. I do not think I am permitted to speak specifically about the nature of the questions, and who knows whether or not NYS will ever release these questions. 
  • Assessment or hazing?  This ritual that we are putting our children through, mandated, promoted and endorsed by the state…should be illegal! Put 20 or more 8-10 year olds in a room (well-ventilated, of course) for 90 minutes plus 20 minutes of test directions (really now) and set-up and what do you get? A situation equivalent to hazing on college campuses.  We know that “the test” goes against everything we stand for. We do not engage in hazing rituals or tolerating them. Yet, in the past 3 days (just this year) there have been episodes of crying, sobbing uncontrollably, panic attacks and more. Students used to producing highly organized and thorough writing were watching the clock, biting their nails and twiddling their hair incessantly while anxiously writing and hoping they would finish in time. Some were so exhausted that they needed inspiring references to the 2014 Olympic games to continue and cross the “finish line.” Where are their gold medals? Is this what we want for OUR children? Parents do not send their children to school to be initiated into this twisted turmoil.
From Newark, New Jersey:

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"We are not Lab Rats"


Anonymous said...

It's not as though SPS's non-Common-Core MSP situation is any better.

Our school has spent one specialist teacher's entire period for 5 days in a row on test prep this week. That's one of the school's most gifted teachers. Every single hour of her time on test prep instead of teaching. On a test that won't have any validity next year, which is when results are received, as it won't synch up to the New and Improved grade standards (CommonCore) or its New and Improved test (from the Smarter Balanced consortium). This means next year will require even more test prep because it will be a new format on new standards.

I want to cry and it isn't because of CommonCore. It's because of the emphasis on these massive tests year after year at the grade school level. Tests that do NOTHING for the students who take them and mostly nothing for the teachers and school setups, either.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Savvy, I only reported on Common Core because other states are further ahead on using those assessments.

But yes, the testing time and effort and cost is out of proportion to what we get back.

Po3 said...

"Tests that do NOTHING for the students who take them and mostly nothing for the teachers and school setups, either."

Totally agree.

And will add how much money these tests suck away from our kids education!

Textbooks before tests!

mirmac1 said...

Time for us to opt out of MSP.

(before I do, I just want to get a sense from 9th grade parents how much HS's rely on this crap?)

Stan said...

Our high school reports that college admission tests might include Common Core math tests.

What else does Gates want from OUR children? (!)

Anonymous said...

I opted my child out of math and reading benchmark this week, and it as beautiful. My child sat in a sun-filled library and read. I'm very glad, b/c other things this week were stressful, that I could do this for him/her, and that the admin and staff at school handled it with grace. I recommend doing this with the NO STAKES AT ALL benchmark. We will take MSP (they don't stress my child and I do see a value, minimal, but some) and we will take MAP for algebra placement, but never another benchmark. No purpose - teachers can assess my child fine without 3 extra tests.

This blog really empowered me on this issue.
signed: success

Mark Ahlness said...

And more: What Educators Say About the Common Core Tests. Unbelievable.

Jack Nguyen said...

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