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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Liz Phillips, Brooklyn principal: I have never seen a worse ELA exam. Other principals agree.

See below comment from 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.  One would think with all the controversy and parents opting out,  NYSED and Pearson would be careful to construct a better set of exams.  But perhaps they are simply incapable of doing so.
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.  


Liz Phillips is not alone.  Here is another principal, commenting on the Testing Talk website

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.

Day 3 of the Common Core NYS ELA is incongruous with Common Core Learning Standards. The same third grade test asks students to identify how specific paragraphs support the organizational structure of a selected piece of literature. The Reading Standards for Literature in Grade 3, with respect to Craft and Structure, state that Grade 3 students should be able to: Refer to parts of stories, dramas, and poems when writing or speaking about a text, using terms such as chapter, scene, and stanza; describe how each successive part builds on earlier sections. It is not until Grade 5, according to The Reading Standards for Literature, that students should be able to: Explain how a series of chapters, scenes, or stanzas fits together to provide the overall structure of a particular story, drama, or poem.

Day 3 of the Common Core NYS ELA is ill-conceived. A short- answer question that appears on the Grade 4 exam calls upon students to explain why a specific piece of text is effectively written. Regardless of what the Reading Standards say, or don’t, about evaluating text, how in the world can a test be created around such an entirely subjective question?

An administrator of a suburban public school, I take seriously my responsibility to students and teachers. It seems to me that the most responsible thing that I could have done this morning would have been to excuse teachers and students from being bullied by an absurd, incongruous and ill-conceived test.

Many more scathing critiques of the NYS ELA exams on the Testing Talk website here. 


Anonymous said...

I agree!!! I administered Grade 4 ELA.

Completely inappropriate passages and even worse questions.

Students are totally set up to fail to make teachers appear incompetent.

A numbeof my students had sick stomachs due to stress.


Anonymous said...

Book 3 had the hardest passages I've ever seen. They were from Odyssey magazine which is for grades 5-9. 1010 is supposed to be the upper limit for 5th grade lexiles, as per NYSED's shifts. If you google lexiles for Odyssey magazine, you will see that their lexiles exceed that range regularly. The story was all but strung together jargon vocabulary about measured risk taking. Cray cray.

Anonymous said...

Another instance of product placement: today's 5th grade book had a passage instructing kids on "how to be a smart risk taker." One of the instructions was to, "Think about Nike (TM) and their slogan 'Just do it.'"

Anonymous said...

Another example of product placement was In 6 th grade - Barbie.....

Mr. C said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Agreed! Proctored the 4th grade exam and was horrified by the lack of literary flow in just about every passage, but only in moments when I wasn't pausing to reflect on questionable grammar. Reading it was painful and the accompanying questions were ridiculous.

Eric Nezowitz, Principal said...

I have been a principal for 10 years, with the last 7 in a district in Nassau County. In all my time as an educator, I have never seen a more disgraceful state exam. The third grade ELA was particularly complex and even inappropriate. The State Education Department should be ashamed at how they treat teachers and children! I work with the most brilliant and capable teachers, but they were completely demoralized and even saddened by what they witnessed today. When will politicians and Albany put teachers and children FIRST!!?? -Eric Nezowitz, Principal

Anonymous said...

This is terrible!

Teacher said...

Product placement in 6th grade, day 1 (this one actually made me laugh out loud):iPod -registered trademark of Apple Corporation.

Anonymous said...

no, it's not mistake, yes, the test makers knew what they were doing. what were they doing ? creating a set-up for failure to use as more ammunition to prove that public education is failing.

Anonymous said...

At the conclusion of the Day 3 ELA administration, our grade 3-5 teachers fought hard to maintain a positive face for students. There were lots of high-fives and hugs for the mere fact that students muscled through a test that was so developmentally inappropriate. However, at the end of the literal day, at dismissal, a few of our third grade students just broke down and wept when they saw their parents. They could no longer contain their feelings of stress, frustration, and failure, and overall feeling that they have just disappointed themselves and all who care about them. How can we not, as educators, ask ourselves, what are we doing to our students? The way some of the questions were worded, might have been good examples of discussion questions in a high school or college literature course. But these kids are eight! This can't be the norm. We need to figure this out and soon because in the meantime, human spirits are being compromised and faith is being lost by students, parents, teachers, and administrators.

Anonymous said...

Because in my gut I knew the reading level of the passages were beyond grade 3...I searched. Many of the 11 texts from the 3rd grade test are readily found online...doing reading level analysis of several of them revealed that the reading levels of several of the passages/excerpts are beyond grade 3...some with even an average (based on several leveling systems) to be an 8.7, 6.8, 5.2, and 4.7. Only one was 3.7. and several were not able to be located. The questions were incredibly hard and as others have stated, not part of our standards! I'm so disappointed and angered by NYSED. My students deserve BETTER!

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with all those who have pointed out how horrendously hurtful and inappropriate this absolute disgrace of a COMPLETELY INVALID test has become. I administered the 5th grade test and whatever data this produces is fit only for a toilet. We, as educators, have a duty to our students to warn parents about this extremely harmful product that is damaging their children and wasting their time with extremely dire consequences.

Anonymous said...

It's time all educators tell their students' parents that as parents we would not permit our own children to take the NYS ELA test due to our valid concerns about this invalid test. If parents only knew the utter absurdity of the construct of these tests they would refuse their children's taking these tests in a heartbeat. We MUST defend our students' right to a fair and valid assessment!

Wendy Levitt said...

The ELAs are over, and our children have gotten NOTHING out of them. Even Gov Cuomo says that from a child's perspective, the tests mean nothing. Stop the Regents from wasting more of our children's education on their failed policies by replacing them (and Commissioner King) with people who have material experience with public education. Sign here!

camille ortiz said...

It is so horrible . I feel like the worst mom not opting out. My 5th grade son finished the test and came home telling me how ridiculous it was. I'm happy I told them that whatever they do or don't do does not matter at all. It alllowed my kids to go in with a nonchalant attitude. As of now I'm forever opting out. I'll never make them suffer for such nonsense again.

Michael M. said...

Tests should assess how well kids can figure out the answers, not the questions.

And there should be clearly correct and clearly incorrect answers for students who are competent at the grade-appropriate material being covered per the published CCLS indexed standards, regardless of whether their school has chosen the Pearson CCLS curriculum materials or a competitor's.

If the nominally CCLS-aligned tests can not meet the above reasonable criteria, they should be deemed flawed, and the officials who foisted said materials and tests should have their own appropriateness for their duties questioned.

Trow da bums:
A) outward
B) outwards
C) outside
D) out
E) all of the above

Anonymous said...

Public education is failing due to inept organizations such as the State Education Department and the DOE (Dopes Of Education)!