Wednesday, April 18, 2012

NYS educators agree: Flawed, confusing and misleading ELA exams


This week, NY students in grades 3-8 are in the midst of taking lengthy ELA exams, which in NYC, will help determine whether they will be held back, and what schools they will attend in the future, as well as what grades their schools receive and how their teachers will be evaluated.  See this article by Juan Gonzalez, about how our kids this year are  spending 270 minutes on the ELA exam and 270 minutes on the Math exam — 90 minutes over each of six days.  No wonder a growing number of parents are choosing to opt their kids out of these exams. ( For more on this, see With Test Week Here, Parents Consider the Option of Opting Out – NYT/SchoolBook and Parents keeping kids out of state reading exams - NY Daily News.)
What follows are comments from teachers and principals throughout the state about how this year's ELA exams are flawed, and contain many ambiguous and misleading questions.  Unfortunately, parents will NEVER be allowed to see these tests as the state is determined to keep them secret from this day forward.  And yet, NYS taxpayers are paying $32 million to Pearson for these exams.  If you are a NYC parent or a teacher, and want to get active on this issue, please email changethestakes@gmail.com  Please also add your comments below if you have thoughts or observations about these exams.

3rd grade test:

From a NYC teacher: A couple of crazy things I've noticed: one really misleading fact/opinion question on the 3rd grade test (question asks "which sentence from the story is an opinion?" and the correct answer choice has the opinion embedded within a piece of dialogue. There's another that asks "what is the best way to remember what is in this ad?" that is highly subjective (different people have different strategies for recalling information, and each of the choices has some validity). 
NYC principal: The listening selection for grade 3 has MANY questions (multiple choice, short response, extended response) that follow this incredibly thin selection and aren't necessarily answered in the selection.

4th grade test:

 From a literacy specialist [in a district outside NYC]:  I proctored the fourth grade test today. I thought that the test was terrible and not a true measure, in my opinion, of reading comprehension. First, some of the early passages in the test were very long (more than two pages) and meandering, making it difficult for 8/9 year-old readers to clearly discern the principal problem among several - or the problem the test-maker thought was the principal problem. These long passages put an undue burden on young reader's stamina during the early part of the test. Even though I am an adult who reads a lot (I am currently finishing my doctoral dissertation),  I found getting through the long passages and questions mentally tiring. This was in part due to the fact that the questions were convoluted and designed to "catch" students in test traps.
In addition, some of the test's print features were inconsistent (i.e., same exact phrases were bolded in some question and not others). The word choice both in the question stem and in the answer choices was meant to obscure meaning, choosing at times arcane vocabulary to refer to text information in the correct choices.  I have been a teacher for 19 years and a literacy specialist for 13, and I can say with some degree of confidence that this test was unfair and not a good instrument to measure students’ ability to read proficiently and use complex text to think critically and learn about the world. I feel sad for my wonderful and hard working students who sat for 90 minutes running through an unfair reading rat maze for political antics and for the benefit of corporate profiteers. I am afraid for the profession I love and for the future of public education.
From a principal, outside NYC:  This morning I had a fourth grader who told me that yesterday’s test was “hard.”  She then went on to explain that the stories were fine and the questions were easy, but that the answers didn’t match the questions.  Sometimes all the answers seemed right, other times all the answers seemed wrong, and sometimes the answers were just confusing.

5th grade test:

NYC principal: As angry as I was before, seeing the tests today (which we are not allowed to quote in any way) has sent me over the edge!  I haven't even read all of them yet but the fifth grade test is unbelievable.  There were easy reading selections and lots of trick questions--more than I have ever seen before--that are absolutely no indication of any kind of 5th grade level reading comprehension.  My APs and I can't even figure out what answer they are looking for in some questions!  I think we absolutely need to fight that these tests be made public.  People will be shocked to see them.  
NYC teacher [at another school]: I completely agree with that principal.   Passages were dense, though reasonable.  What was irritating was how many questions were trick questions, and don't really test comprehension, they test your ability to answer tricky questions.   There were definitely questions in which my kids were just making silly mistakes all on their own.  But there were also plenty of questions in which the wording was meant to lead you astray, or there were 3 perfectly viable answers for which you had to use really developed reasoning to distinguish which was best, and honestly, I don't think a 9 year-old should be told they aren't worthy of passing fourth grade just because their reasoning hasn't reached an adult's level of analysis, or because they took a different perspective on a question than a test monger.

6th-8th grade tests:

NYS middle school principal [outside NYC]: As I reviewed the exams for the sixth through eighth grade yesterday, I was appalled. I felt that sixth grade was the most difficult of the three exams, followed by eighth and with the fairest exam being the seventh grade. There were so many questions that contained answer choices that the ELA teachers said they could not decide which answer would be 'best' (By the way - weren't they getting rid of using that in the question stem?). I felt terrible for my children, especially for my English Language Learners and my special education students. They were extremely frustrated by the ambiguity of the answer choices and the questions that required them to synthesize several different pieces of information to come up with one answer that was mysteriously lurking among the four choices.
I had one student in an ESL class, who I was told was bright and could do well (whatever that means since the cut off scores are manipulated each year), tell me he was finished at 8:30 AM - the test started at 7:50 AM. As we strongly encouraged that he go back into the test to check his answers - his eyes began to well with tears. He was frustrated and gives up easily to not deal with the frustration. My heart broke. I can't imagine his willingness to now sit for another two days with each day bringing him more and more frustration. That's like me sitting for an IB language assessment. I'm motivated to learn the language, but I know I'm not proficient, I know I'm going to fail and I have to sit for it any way. Why should I try?

70 comments:

Anonymous said...

Apparently the New York State 8th Graders thought the story about "The Hare and the Pineapple" was so ridiculous that they have started a Facebook page about it. 8th Graders from across NYState are weighing in with comments.

Good for them

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I teach 5th grade. I'm so disgusted/entertained by the questions and choices. I'm sorry if it sounds bad, but there were just some questions that I wasn't sure of the answer either...very subjective ones. I feel like, as a teacher, I should be able to answer them easily. I don't know...just a thought. When I'm in doubt, I actually circulate to my strongest 3 or 4 readers to get consensus on what they put for a certain question. And who knows if they got it either.

Anonymous said...

Apparently this Hare and Pineapple passage is recycled from several other states. http://inthebreakroom.blogspot.com/2007/03/pineapples-dont-have-sleeves_15.html

Anonymous said...

I talked to teachers that gave the 3rd grade Listening Section of the test. They said that students were asked to give 2 story details for a question, but they could only find ONE.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad that someone mentioned the NYS taxpayers dollars were used to pay Pearson to develop these tests!!!! The testing industry Big Four are Hardcourt Education Measurement, CTB-McGraw Hill Riverside Publishing, and NCS Pearson, are making millions in sales. The NCLB and Racing to the TOP is a farce. I have seen no evidence that standardized testing makes better students. United States is outranked by other countries in education, and economy. There are more American children living in poverty...and the answer our government and states have is let's give the kids more standardized tests!!!Oh, yeah that makes a whole lot of sense.

Anonymous said...

I gave the third grade test to students with learning disabilities. It was way TOO long! Some of my students - students with ADHD - get 1.5 and double time - you do the math. And they tried!

If the decision was made to include 7 passages in DAY 1, then they should have at least VARIED the TYPE of passages. There was 1 true fiction passage. There was 1 ad/flyer. Four or five passages, depending on how you count were animal related. (One was a bio of an animal). Another was an article that featured a photograph - of guess what: animals and jungles!

How is this showing that students have the ability to read and understand a variety of informational texts? How does this tie in the third grade social studies curriculum and with the focus on myths, legends and folktales and cultures around the world that third grade teachers weave into the ELA, Science and Social Studies curriculum? And what about a health related article! Throw in some sports?

By the way, this objective criticism comes from someone who loves science and animal studies - I provide hundreds (yes) of science books in my classroom. Oh, and I agree - quite a few of the questions had me pause and wonder what the answer the testers were expecting.

So far, after 2 days of testing - I give this exam a FAILING grade.

will said...

I gave the third grade ELA listening section today to my ELLs. The story was completely non-linear. It started in the present, went to the past, then back to the present. There was hardly any indicators. I had to read it 3 times myself before I figured out what was going on. Then one of the questions was almost impossible. I had to go back to re-read it to find the detail they wanted. My kids did not have that luxury, and the are all ELLS!

Anonymous said...

My 7th grader said there was one question that he thought he might have gotten wrong. He told me the possible question and answers. It could have been any one of three answers.

I certainly hope it was a field test question!

Chris Cerrone said...

7th grade ELA listening passage:

http://nystoptesting.blogspot.com/2012/04/day-two-ela-listening-passage-is-joke.html

Anonymous said...

These test by no means measure our student's intelligence- All they do is cause unnecessary stress on young children who are being sent a message that they are nothing more than a "Raw score," in which no one at the state level can accurately even explain to parents.

The questions are designed to trick children and the truly intelligent children (of which there are many), who actually think about these tests as significant, analyze the questions and answers only to be left frustrated and afraid-because ANY logical and intelligent person can see there are often times MORE than ONE correct answer. It is unfortunate that the DOE does not hold the people who write and develop the tests to the same standards they hold the CHILDREN! As for not releasing the exams...if you have nothing to hide and stand by your work-what are you afraid of?

Chris Cerrone said...

In Florida too: http://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/2012/04/17/science-blogger-finds-problems-with-fcat-questions/

queens parent said...

My 5th grader thinks he got a question wrong on Tuesday's test because he couldn't remember the difference between a metaphor and a simile... Really??? In 5th grade???

Anonymous said...

As an educator and parent it frustrates me that valuable learning opportunities are being wasted ( not to mention the enormous amount of paper wasted) for children to spend hours upon. Days taking tests. Tests which they are not mature enough to understand the relevance. Test which my job and reputation is put in jeopardy because some of these student lack the parental and economical support and thr drive to succeed. How are my students' actions over 6-9 days an accurate measure of over the other 174 days
I spend time doing what I studied and passionate about giving my students the free and appropriate education they deserve. These tests hinder that.

Bottom line, these Tests do
not measure reading comprehension and writing structure but rather test tasking skills. Tell me how a recent immigrant or a child reading below grade level can pass a 5th grade test? Our state , our country, out politicians show be ashamed of themselves. We are working ith children NOT robots. Ugh!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I tested 3rd grade and I felt my students did fairly well with the listening but the poem across 3 pages with the questions across another 3 pages did them in, as did the next passage (which I couldn't even bring myself to read). So far there have been 9 reading passages. As someone said to me today, "Couldn't they figure out from the 7 yesterday that this is too hard? Did they really have to give them 2 more today?" Poor kids, bless their little hearts they are really trying so hard.

Anonymous said...

I am a Middle School Special Education teacher and I am being given a rating by the state based on my students scores. Most of my students are signifcantly below grade level. I work very hard every day to teach them in reading, writing and math. I teach them effective strategies for learning but that is not what I will be graded on. I have been teaching for a long time, I have a very good understanding of how my students learn best and I am successful at getting them to achieve their goals, however these tests are infuriating. Going into them, I know my students cannot possibly do well since they are not at grade level. The stress on them and me is daunting. I refuse to teach to the test! New York state needs to come up with a more fair, more balanced and more appropriate way to assess these students, especailly when they have significant learning disabilities.

Anonymous said...

My daughter, who is in the 6th grade, came home fom school yesterday after the second day of ELA testing asking, "Why don't they give us real literature to read to be tested on? Instead we get stupid stories about woodchucks."

Anonymous said...

The real sad part is the importance placed on these ridiculous test. Some of the questions are being used for future test questions and will not count in the scores,but help to lengthen the test. No one knows which will count in this test and which are for evaluation in the future. The answers are unclear so are we really testing reading comprehension. Children take the test under different time and test conditions. Special ed students take the same test as the gifted. The marking in many cases is subjective and depends on the mood and opinion of the people grading them.Two full weeks of instruction are wasted to administer these exams.
The sad part is not only the emphasis put on the flawed results of these exams,but also the pressure and psychological damage put on our children,teachers,administrators,parents and everyone else involved with these ridiculous and unfair exams.These tests show nothing except the stupidity of the people who know nothing about education but think these tests really prove something.HOW SAD!

Anonymous said...

The 4th grade ELA had a passage called "Spring Peepers." one of the questions asked students which season it took place in. The answer (subtly contained in the passage) was "summer."

MikeleBrennan said...

Today my daughter a 10 yo in 4th grade and had to take the test today...so before the test begins they are lined up and taken to the bathroom...this child proceeded to break out into hysterics and was saying she was goin to throw up..she was sent to the nurse in which she called me...This child was sent home due to a panic attack she had because of these ridiculous test...Now at 12:32 she is perfectly fine!

Anonymous said...

I worked as a NYC teacher for 13 years. I resigned in February because my school was turned into a testing factory. Starting in K the children were being tested every week, assessed every 6 weeks and given practice tests every 4 weeks. Parents were told their children were not meeting benchmarks because they did not pass a practice test given in November that was meant for children in the same grade level but with material that wasn't taught until the end of May. All our teaching materials were changed to Pearson Publications because they were developing the test. Parents and children were in a panic. Teachers were forced to teach to a test and what was once a wonderful school community is not longer. I pulled my second grader out and am homeschooling. I don't know if I want to continue teaching in an environment where students are not allowed to grow and learn but are confined to learning strategies and fear of a test that will define them.

Anonymous said...

I have been teaching for nine years and have heard everything, both positive and negative said about teachers. I am truly appalled at the NYS ELA Third Grade Exam. I am a Pre-K-6 Certified Elementary teacher with a minor in English Language Arts and I hold a Masters Degree in Literacy. I also hold a Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education. Numerous studies have been done regarding the cognitive levels of children at all of these levels,and I can tell you that these tests have been designed by those who have no idea about Childhood Developmental Levels. The multiple choice section of the test was fair, but Book 2 and 3 were beyond unfair. How is it developmentally appropriate for seven and eight year old children to sit for ninety minutes? NYS Teacher DO WORK HARD, as do the students. Why would we create such stressful environments for ONE LOUSY TEST? How can one test determine everything from a childs progress/mastery and how well a teacher teaches? Something needs to be done about this. WE ARE PROFESSIONALS! Would you call a Computer Technician to fix your leaky sink or plumbing? I would hope not, so why not ask current NYS teachers to help DEVELOP THE NYS TESTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!
POOR KIDS!

Anonymous said...

They should know that in 5th grade...

Anonymous said...

My daughter is in the 6th grade and she said the test was easy her classmates agreed

Anonymous said...

My middle schooler's teacher gave them an optional extra credit assignment: Write a formal letter to the NYSED with any complaints they have about specific questions on the test, i.e. poor wording, ambiguous answers. From what I heard, the kids had many things to write about!

Anonymous said...

My son is in 5th grade in a NYC Public School. He has scored fours in the ELA and Math tests in both 3rd and 4th grades. Today he came home and said that the test was ridiculously hard to understand, he had to go back and reread the passages in order to formulate his short answers and essay. With that, he still felt "confused." Mind you he is at a Y reading level and is considered "gifted." I feel bad that he was so stressed out. I know his comprehension levels and am thoroughly disgusted that he and all of our children would be subjected to these stress levels at such a young age. If the teachers have difficulty coming to a consensus on an answer, what do they expect from our 8-10 year-olds?

Anonymous said...

So the kids take the test, the teachers are evaluated and whatis done with the child who is till reaingv2-3 years below grade level. Doesn't take a rocket scientist that regardless of how many hours those students sir, their will fail. Oh yeah, thanks to No Child Left Behind they will also progress to the next grade widening the gap. When will the emphasis be put on helping these students to read rather than criticising the teacher who tries his or her best. Even more so, the teacher could be spending those 360 hours teaching. OMG, what a concept!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I am a 6th grade special education teacher as part of a co-teaching classroom with 12 special education students and 15 general education students. However, the majority of my students are all below grade level and came into our classroom with very little motivation to do well. Over the past 7 months, they have turned around completely and have shown significant progression and have finally developed the self-confidence that maybe they CAN do well and maybe hard work REALLY does pay off. Well after seeing the tests over the past 3 days, I feel as if all of this hard work was for nothing. Our students were in various locations based on their accommodations and when I saw them all coming back to the classroom after the test, they all looked upset and defeated. One student shut down for the rest of the day and actually told me "It doesn't even matter. I'd never be able to pass that test". To see their spirits so crushed after the growth I have seen in all of them is disheartening and sending the wrong message to our kids. As much as I try to emphasize in our classroom that everything we learn is needed for life and to be successful in our futures and NOT just to pass a test, it all comes crashing back when they do not do well on these tests and the emphasis is put back on.

From what I was able to read from the tests, there were so many questions that were misleading and that I couldn't even figure out the right answer to. These students are supposed to function and think like a 12 year old not an adult, yet if a grown adult who has been teaching for many years cannot answer them, who's to say the kids can?

And don't even get me started on the length of it! It is far too long for someone that young to sit still and take such a complicated test. I actually had a couple of students start to zone off and fall asleep because it was so tiring. One actually raised their hand during the test and asked me "Are we getting any breaks? This is too long. My brain can't think anymore". I sadly had to tell them no and suggest they take their own personal mental break and come back to the question. And this was coming from a student who is typically one of the most hard working and has the most stamina.

Finally, the evaluation process put on teachers. If a child has a learning disability, it means that they will not be able to work at the same pace as a student without one and it requires them extra time to learn something new. That is why it is considered a disability. Yet, they are evaluated like a typical student without a disability would be. If they cannot make a "typical 6th grader's year's progress" from one year to the next on one state test, they get points against them and in turn against me. Now, these students come to me typically 2-3 years below grade level and they have consistently made progress while in my classroom. I have given up extra time of my own (not paid) for tutoring afterschool to helpand have even had kids come to me asking for extra work so that they can get better. But in reality, they cannot progress at the same rate as a "typical" student. It requires more time. So that means I'm a bad teacher? Just because they didn't make a whole years progress or more based on what a "typical" 6th grader should be able to do? I love teaching special education because it's rewarding to see students who have struggled really prove that they can do better is they really work hard and that they are no different than the other kids. I would never want to give it up, but if this continues to effect my "ratings" just because their scores didn't jump up from the previous year, I don't know how much longer I can take it.

Anonymous said...

Book 3 of the 3rd grade ELA test contained a passage that was a first-person account of a boy's family trip while moving from Anchorage, Alaska to New Hampshire. The narrative contained at least 20 place names, most of which are likely to be unfamiliar to a 3rd grader in NYC - including cities (San Francisco, Anchorage), states (Alaska, Washington, California, Nebraska, South Dakota), landmarks (Mount Rushmore, Niagara Falls), Canada, and Yukon Territory. One of the questions asked students, "Name two states the boy's family visited and what they saw there. Use 2 details from the passage." Another dirty trick - the question wasn't so much a test of their reading comprehension as their knowledge of US Geography (which is not covered on the NY State Social Studies Scope and Sequence until Grade 5!!). I watched helplessly as students identified Canada, Anchorage, or Niagara Falls as states :(

Anonymous said...

Please consider signing the petition to demand that NYS give parents the right to opt out of these exams: http://signon.org/sign/give-new-york-state-parents.fb1?source=s.fb&r_by=322644 You can learn more about the Change the Stakes Campaign at changethestakes.org or follow us on Twitter @changethestakes

Nina Bishop said...

*****ACLU Multi Family Complaint***

Send your letters of parental rights violations regarding high stakes testing to:

Nina Bishop
3065 Windward Way
Colorado Springs, CO 80917
719-233-1508 Mountain Standard Time

Please send copies of threatening mail and denials to school activities, your contact info and your request to join the complaint.

United we can changed education for our children and reclaim our schools!

Anonymous said...

I read King's letter just now about the Pineapple and I must note that he does not address the question of why the passage and questions were not red flagged to begin with. What is he paid to do!!!!????!!! What educator lets such nonsense be used? The tests this year are a travesty. Another example. The read aloud passage for the eighth grade was about the singer Alberta Hunter. The passage starts with some poorly written musings on how most people will live in one or two locations and have one job over the course of a lifetime. We are then introduced to Alberta Hunter, who the listener is told is an exception to this norm. The listener learns she was born in Memphis, moves to Chicago and then "returns" to NYC. But she had never been to NYC. How could she return to place she had never been? Again, did anyone vet this before it was released statewide? A bright sixth grader at my school pointed out that the sixth grade read aloud ends with the main character Willie Chuck receiving the gift of a drum set from his grandfather and that the scale of this gift would appear to fly in the face in the testing sensitivity rules recently released by the city/state. Vetted? I guess not. The entire experience is demeaning to everyone. And now ELA teachers will, Monday, leave school to grade the tests!!! Our union rep says that this is a non-issue for the UFT. Apparently, many teachers are just as happy to get out of their school for a few days!!

Squeers

Anonymous said...

The third grade listening passage was very short -(not a lot of details) and used the word "silly" to describe behaviors of the one of the major characters. One of the questions asked for 2 examples of this silliness - and as I read it, I realized that in reality what the test was asking for for a description of an action that was not really a "silly" behavior for such a character - but a very typical behavior of this type of character. This was misleading to say the least and stumped some of my students. (I am being vague to adhere to testing security)

Anonymous said...

I recall learning that in 8th grade. I read voraciously as a 3rd, 4th, and 5th grader, and probably would have been dumbfounded by that question.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone looked at Pearson's textbooks... They are among the worst published out there, and these people have the nerve to claim they are the leaders in creating assessment exams. They are a Texas based company... Guess where this whole "test the day lights" idea came from to begin with... Could it be that past president from Texas? Hmmmm?????

Anonymous said...

Reading all these comments is nothing less than angering and frustrating.The people who make up these tests ought to spend some time in a classroom setting. I taught for 27 years...most of the time in 5th grade, having also taught 3rd and 4th. I am now on a Board of Education, and I have been involved in grading these tests for years at BOCES as a retired teacher. I have had issues with the make-up of these tests before, and reading all these comments makes me very anxious to see the academic context this year. The fact that a percentage of the APPR(the new teachers' observations) is based on this testing is abhorable. The worst part is putting the kids through the stress of a test that really does not prove what they have achieved.

Anonymous said...

ol

Iteach5th said...

The Fruitcake and the Big Banana – a tale inspired by a pineapple http://wp.me/25Eys

Anonymous said...

Test time was way too long. Most students were done very early, but still had to sit for long periods of time doing nothing. Tests could not be collected until the 90minutes was up, and students were not permitted to draw or read for 45 minutes to an hour. After the exam, they all had to attend a regular day of school. High school students get to go home and take a break after a Regents. THE STATE SENT A SURVEY TO EDUCATORS REGARDING THE THE TIME. THEY KNEW THE TIMING WAS OFF AND IT IS ASKING TOO MUCH TO TAKE A TEST FOR NINETY MINUTES THREE DAYS IN A ROW. THEY HAVE MATH NEXT WEEK.

Anonymous said...

The website said the 7th grade listening was going to be fiction. It was nonfiction. This is misleading to educators who were practicing fiction with students. Students saw this as another mistake by the state.

Anonymous said...

Why do the publishing companies receive sample tests and new formats and schools do not?

Wouldn't it be best practice to release sample questions on websites for parents, teachers, and students to practice?

For the past three years the exams questions have changed. Are schools supposed to purchase new workbooks every year to keep up with the ever changing formats? Is this all about money???

Anonymous said...

The third grade exam was designed for tricking children more than anything else. They are way too long. Why do you need to read and answer questions for 9 passages? I think you can determine their ability to read with two or three. Also, why do they need to write two essays based on their opinions? How does an opinion determine comprehension? New York state is just trying to obtain funding money at the expense of children and our educators. Currently, I am looking into new options to change professions.

Anonymous said...

I disagree about the time altoghter. Most students went to the wire. There shouldn't be a time limit in the first place, if they really cared about their reading and writing abilities, they wouldn't rush them along, or make them sit there for that matter.

Jim Longbotham said...

I teach 3rd-5th grade in the Mid-Hudson Valley area for the past 22 years. Reading through all of these heartfelt and heart-wrenching comments depicts how many of my colleagues (teachers AND admin.) and I feel about the direction that NYSED is heading and it is so very WRONG. It is time for a grass-roots movement to make education a priority in this state AND this country. It is not just about testing. Testing is part of education and good tests help teachers AND students know where they are on the learning curve. I agree with one teacher's comments about how devastating this test was to her/his students self-esteem/self-confidence which he/she had worked SO hard all year to build up, only to watch it come crumbling down as they not only tried to read, but then answer questions about a text that was grade levels above where they are (CLEARLY their frustrational level). What is that about? It would be SO possible to set up a series of passages in advancing difficulty that a student begins just below their Independent reading level and then progress through 3, maybe 4 levels, to get a more accurate gauge of their progress- a growth model assessment. It is a MUCH more accurate measure of growth and more fair for the student as well as the staff that work with that student. But as I said earlier, this is only one piece. We also need to look at the research behind going to a county-wide model for districts. We need to discuss the fact there should be NON-Negotiables when it comes to funding for schools. Loads of research tells us the clear benefits of the following: keeping class-sizes down in Pre-K - 3rd grade, teaching a foreign language starting in 1st grade (if not Kindergarten), staff development that supports student achievement and INSPIRES staff rather than overloads, proper training and support for teachers and staff to help identify students EARLY ON for Reading support and Intervention services, and many more issues. We NEED to come together and brainstorm how we can make things more equitable for students across the state. Why are there so many districts in need of basic school supplies when other districts are contemplating how to spend the tens (if not hundreds) of 1000's of dollars in funds raised at a benefit, Foundation or simply donated? Why is it that year after year there needs to be almost a "court trial" atmosphere at BOE mtg.s where parents and staff members have to rally behind each other to keep programs from being cut? Why is it that we only vote on roughly 22% of a school districts budget? Why is it that we can spend almost 1 million dollars for a chunk of land in the district and are told that this money can't be used to maintain programs or staff positions? That is a law that needs to be changed. What about funding for RTTT? We need more vertical conversations between National, State and Local leaders with realistic timelines and opportunity for input from your veteran work force out there with the students. These are REAL situations that I am sure are just the very tip of a huge iceberg. Let's get this conversation going!

Deborah Snyder said...

Don't forget that now, public teachers will be evaluated based on how well students perform on these seriously flawed tests, and merit pay will be gained or lost depending on these scores. I agree that what we are doing to students borders on abuse, but the problems with the tests runs much deeper.

phyllisg said...

I am a retired school teacher who is thankful eveyday she got out! 30 plus years of doing something i loved was hard to give up, but when my teaching came down to how my kids would preform on a test one not prepared by me or written to test what my children were learning..I called it quits. NY state is test happy and it needs to stop! Throw those state tests out including the regents. We are the only state that uses them! Let your teachers teach and your students learn! I think every parent, educator, administrator and concerned person should storm Albany and demand a change!!!

Anonymous said...

After reading all of these comments that were posted on this website, it is truly heartbreaking what the students of todays educational system are forced to deal with. Frankly, I am glad that I grew up when I did because if I was required to take these tests under such stressful conditions, I don’t know how I would measure up either. However, now that I see things through the eyes of a teacher, I question the true intentions of these tests. It is one thing if you want to truly assess a students reading comprehension ability by giving them fair reading passages with questions that are clear and have answers that make sense then I am behind you 100%. If teachers were given the results of these tests in a timely manner so we can use that data to help our instruction then I am behind you 100%. That would be testing that makes sense. However, designing tests that flat out trick students and set them up to fail is just baffling. These READING tests are supposed to assess just that, reading. So why are students being graded on their prior knowledge of geography? On the third grade ELA there was a story about a boy's family trip across the United States after moving from Anchorage, Alaska to New Hampshire. Teaching in a low socioeconomic area, most of my students have not had any life experiences outside of their town or immediate surroundings. They have never been on a plane or a long trip by car. They can't afford to travel and have not seen the world around them. Yet they are expected to read and make connections to a story that lists about 10 different places that were traveled through while never identifying the places as states, countries, cities, or landmarks. They discuss San Francisco, Mt. Rushmore, Yukon Territory, Canada, California, Ohio, Washington, and several other places. At the conclusion of this ridiculous story they are given a short response question that asks them to name two states this boy traveled through. ARE YOU SERIOUS? Since when are students supposed to be tested on prior knowledge? I had to helplessly watch as most of my students named Canada, San Francisco, Yukon Territory, Anchorage, etc.… as states that were traveled through. So my students are now going to be penalized because these tests are ridiculous. Parents, teachers, and advocates for children everywhere need to get together and let the big wigs know that standardized tests are not a fair way to assess students and teachers.

Anonymous said...

Why are little children as young as 8 being asked to spend 9 hours taking meaningless exams based on noyhing? My little granddaughter, an excellent student, is exhausted.For the first time in the nearly four years she has beenn school she did not want to go. Do we relly want to make young children fear and hate school with this testing madness?

Anonymous said...

Why are little children as young as 8 being asked to spend 9 hours taking meaningless exams based on noyhing? My little granddaughter, an excellent student, is exhausted.For the first time in the nearly four years she has beenn school she did not want to go. Do we relly want to make young children fear and hate school with this testing madness?

Anonymous said...

It was exactly like you described it. Awful. US geography is not covered yet. Apparently Pearson did not get that memo when creating the test. I felt so bad for my kids. Even my level 4's wrote Niagra Falls or California as a state.

Joyce Bellerose NY said...

Hi I am a parent of a 13year old. My daughter was unable to attend her 8th Grade graduation with her class because she did not do well on her NYS ELA test. Meanwhile she made honor roll, did not fail any of her classes throughout the school year. If you ask me that is mental torture! How can the NYS school system and the Politians behind it do this to a human beining especially to a kid. Talk about abuse that is Mental Abuse! I tell you I went on sleepless nights and sick to my stomache just seeing how upset my daughter was and still is, all her classmates went to graduation and she could not participate because of one NYS Test that even our educators question! So my question to whom ever wrote and implemented this rule - Does it matter that a child get's very good grades and even makes honor roll? I do not think standardized test truly measure all students abilities. some students are very bright and very smart, but when it comes to takeing a test, some students just break down. Tests impact diferent students, in diferent ways. What is the purpose of sending them to school all year long and have their teachers and all that are involved with our children's education work so hard for one test to determind the end results... The school she attends tried their best in their power to have her participate but according to the NYS education law it is against school policies to have a child attend 8th grade graduation if they do not pass the NYS ELA/MATH tests. Can we start a movement and take this to Washington? If there is someone out there that is doing something about it please let me know I would like to join in or if not let's have our voices heard! Obviously no one is listening to our educators that agree with the parents. This is our future our children let's help them.

Anonymous said...

Joyce, You should contact the media. That is horrible.

Joyce Bellerose NY said...

I did I contacted the DailyNews.. there was an article back in April 2012 and I contacted the journalist with my story a week ago. I will do so again. Thank you.
I want to take this to a higher level.. but without the media it will be hard. I hope my voice is heard.

Anonymous said...

Send a note to Diane Ratvich on her blog, contact Change the Stakes, both are media savvy.

Joyce J Caba, Bellerose NY said...

I just want to give an update for those of you who wrote me back with concerns and advising me who to contact regarding my daughter's NYS ELA test score.
It so happens that my daughter after all passed her NYS ELA test the NYC DOE made a mistake. Remember my daughter attended Bell Academy middle school in Bayside Queens and was unable to graduate with her class because according the DOE she did not pass her NYS ELA test. Well she did.
How can they make such a huge mistake like this? It was bought to my attention that this has happened to a lot of children this year. Who is scoring these test? How can this happen? If we as parents do not voice your concerns then how can this HUGE error be corrected in the future?

I am so disappointed in the NYS School system.

Where can I go to voice my concerns?

Thank you

Leonie Haimson said...

Joyce, please email me asap at leonie@att.net thanks!

Anonymous said...

I have a child who failed the ELA this year, in 5th grade. He attained a 3+ last year. He has always been on grade level and NEVER a possible hold over. It made no sense to us, and so we requested to see the test and his scantron sheet. After the scores were released last week, the scantron sheet was faxed to my principal. My son traced the outside of each answer bubble, instead of filling in the dot. None of his multiple choice answers were recorded, and therefore he got no credit for day 1. He ended up with a score of 1.98, telling us that even if
he only got a couple of m/c questions correct, he would have attained a level 2. If human beings graded the
exams instead of a machine, this would not be a
problem. I understand that there are not enough people
to hand-grade thousands of tests, but When one test is flagged as not being read at all, shouldn't someone look at it to see why?

Chris Cerrone said...

Very possible that written sections will be scored by computers in the near future. Children, teachers and schools will be rated by a machine. Sad.

Anonymous said...

My son was hoping to go to a specialized high school, but to my dismay after I worked so hard with him...he scored 689 on his 7th grade ELA which puts him at a 3.75 just points away from a level 4. Does anybody know the cut off score for a level 4 in ELA grade 7? He did receive a 702 on his math, so he squeaked by with a level 4 on that. In regard to ELA, the kid has been reading since 4 years old, and reading the NYT since he was little, AND at the beginning of 6th grade they gave him Performance Series Online for ELA and he scored on 9th and 10th grade level respectively. Why is their such a wide chasm? I want to see a copy of his 2012 ELA Exam to see what the problem is....oh that's right, they keep it a SECRET! Can't look at it...we can just pay TAX dollars for them to give it, and then give the results of the test, but hide the answers that our children put down. Beyond frustrated. Sorry for the rant....can anyone please tell me the cutoff score for 7th grade ELA level 4?

Joyce J Caba, Bellerose NY said...

To all the Parents that had to encounter such negative impacts due to these NYS Tests. I feel your pain. We work with our children to make sure they get the right tools and study times to help them excel in school only to see the end results not working in their favor. This is why we need to voice our concerns and fight for what is right. Go to the media, continue to write on blogs let's have our voices heard loud and clear. I personally never want any child to go through what my 13 year old daughter went through having her mistakenly told by the school officials she had not passed her NYS ELA test, having her feel humiliated and embrassed to only find out that they had mistakenly scored her test wrong or that they had under estimated her scores. She had earned graduating with her school, her friends back in June but was banned from attending. I don't ever want to go back to that day when she cried all day long because she was not able to attend graduation. Talk about Mental Abuse this is a good example. Let's keep writing letters, let's get together and have all this go away so that no child has to experience this ordeal ever. We as parents have the power let's use it.
As a follow up my daugher finally will be able to attend a late graduation ceremony this coming Thursday, August 9th she is finally being commended for her hard work throughout the school year!

Anonymous said...

wow... y yo que pensaba que yo era la unica persona en pensar que estos examenes eran estupidos para medir el nivel de rendimiento de un nino. No se porque el Estado de New york no hace nada por cambiar esto.Dicen que los ninos son el futuro del pais pero ellos solo estan logrando que cada vez haya mas ninos en no querer seguir estudiando.

Joyce Caba Bellerose NY said...

Estoy de acuerdo Porfavor escriba por mi email personal vamos a uninos los hispanos para hacernos oír !!!! Cabajoyce@gmail.com

MARILENE said...

My daughter always got a 4 or 4+ on both her ELA and MATH tests. This year(6th grade) though she got a 3.81 on ELA and 4.5 in MATH. I sense something is wrong with her ELA grade and I would like to see it ? She is in a G&T program and she has always been 1st or 2nd in her class, always an honor student. Today I gave her a 7th grade ELA test from OSA website and she scored 100%.
It is obvious to me that something is wrong with this year's ELA test. HOw can I request a copy of it ? Whom should I contact about this? How can we make our concerns heard ? Thank you !
marilene_kondrasky@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

@marlene. I requested a copy of the 7th grade 2012 ELA through the testing coordinator and principal. After the most ridiculous run around, and 6 weeks, I was given book 2 & 3 to view of my child's test along with a copy of the child's scanteon bubble sheet. The 'tick' marks usually on the scanteon at wouls indicate a wrong answer were all filled in, so its not determinable which answers are correct. Book 1 was destroyed and "secure", used and unused copies, so they will not let anyone see the questions or the correct answers. There is no point in requesting the test unless your child lost points on the extended responses or multiple choice from the listening passages. Even then, they will not provide an answer key. If the child lost points on multiple choice quests, you may as well be asking to see the files of the FBI. WTH a child that is 4 points from a 4 for the forst time ever and all due to Book 1, it's a very frustrating experience.

Anonymous said...

My 3rd grade daughter just woke up from a nightmare about her upcoming test. It's not for two weeks! If I could afford it, I would send her to Catholic school in a heartbeat .

Anonymous said...

How to assess wether an elementary student is college and career ready - a one question test. The question is - How old are You? Answers would: Answer 8 means not not very; 9 still not very, 10 they are still just a kid, 11 thinking about college and career maybe but since this isn't a country where we make 11 year olds work in sweatshops, 12 check their facebook page for more of an insight than an obstanant Governor, arrogant Regents Chancellor and figurehead Commissioner can derive from tests deleoped by people looking to make millions off of political rhetoric

Anonymous said...

It is really unfortunate that our kids have to take examinations that they are not thoroughly prepared for. Test Prep is not the way to learn material, it is as it says "Test Prep".... So when administrators spend hours prepping our kids, I have to ask are they really learning the material? Another thing I read somewhere is that the rational is that all kids will do poorly this time around and improved as they get used to the material. If that is the case, just give a diagnostic and move on, don't give a test and have it attach to some poor kid's permenant record.

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