Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Please post your comments & observations about the ELA exams here!

Today is the first day of the NY State ELA exams in grades 3-8.  As in past years, I am reaching out to students, parents, and teachers to let us know if there are confusing or ambiguous questions, overly long reading passages or passages with commercial product placements or vocabulary that is anachronistic and/or not age-appropriate.  Please note if there are any other issues that concern you or make the exams flawed or problematic.

This year the exams are also untimed.  How long did it take your child or students to complete the questions?

It was nearly four years ago, on April 18 when I first learned from a comment on our blog about the absurd Pineapple passage on the 2012 ELA exam.


 After I did a little research and blogged about this passage the next day, the story of the race between a Hare and a Pineapple with no sleeves quickly blew up into a national scandal.  To this day, the Pineapple has endured as emblematic of the lack of accountability on the part of the test-makers and policymakers, who insist on using these exams to rate schools, students and teachers.


Please also note below if you have info about the opt-out rates at your schools.  Already we have received reports of high rates in some Rochester-area districts and at PS 261 in Brooklyn.

thanks Leonie

68 comments:

Leonie Haimson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leonie Haimson said...

Anonymous post:
"I just proctored the 3 grade test in NYC. The first question from the passage about the " sniff" was impossible to answer. It made no sense. I asked four other teachers and they all had no clue. Many of the questions were tricky and I believe there was no correct answer!!!!! Nothing has changed. Thank god my 3 grader doesn't sit through this torture. Some kids still testing from 9 am."

Anonymous said...

My daughter was opted out but she heard the teacher call the main office after the test to complain that the first question was unanswerable and they shouldn't count it, also third grade.

Anonymous said...

My daughter said there was a music passage with a word that she never heard of before, starting with a V. Maybe virtuoso? Crazy.
This was the 4th grade test.

Anonymous said...

it was 'vibrato' .

Anonymous said...

Some classes had students still taking the test until 12:30. Kids way late to lunch. Starting time 9:00.

Anonymous said...

3rd grader threw up at start. Went home, is opting out of rest of tests.

Anonymous said...

6th Grade reading selections were An excerpt from Kathleen the Celtic Knot, A Famous Secret Valley ( Jerry Miller) an excerpt from The Heart of A Samurai ( Margi Presus ?) a poem titled Twilgiht & Calm ( Christine Rossetti) and an article Getting Lost in a Good Book Can Keep You Healthy. Authors not 100% sure if last name is correct. Still need to search them up for lexile levels

All kids finished on time in room I was in-some as early as 45 minutes in.

Anonymous said...

Mistake in instructions booklet:

the 2016 Common Core English Language Arts Tests Teacher’s Directions, Grades 6, 7, and 8
This supplemental page pertains solely to the administration of Session 3 of the 2016 Grade 6 English Language Arts Test. The purpose of this supplemental page is to have students correct a one-word typographical error in the instructions for students provided on page 6 of their Grade 6 – Book 3 prior to their beginning work in this test book.
Please print this page and insert it in between pages 20 and 21 of the Grades 6, 7, and 8 Teacher’s Directions.
After providing all of the instructions for Grade 6 students included on page 20 of the Teacher’s Directions, please provide the following supplemental instructions to students:
SAY Please turn to page 6 of your test book. [Pause while students do so.] At the top of the page, in the second sentence of the Directions, please cross out the word ‘article’ and write the word ‘answer’ above or below it. The new sentence should now read, “Then answer question 48.” When you have finished making the change, please turn back to page 1.
Are there any questions?
Pause for questions. When you are confident that all students have made the change and turned back to page 1 of their test book, continue with the SAY at the top of page 21 of the Teacher’s Directions.
20A 2016 Common Core English Language Arts Tests Teacher’s Directions.

Anonymous said...

There was a sophisticated excerpt from this text on the 4th grade test. Way to accommodate English-language learners.

Interest Level
Grades 6 - 8
Reading Level
Grade level Equivalent: 5.4
Lexile® Measure: 650L
DRA: 50
Guided Reading: U
Genre
General Fiction
Theme/Subject
Adolescent Issues

Anonymous said...

Due to testing in grades 3-5, first graders at one school had to spend the morning in the gym. They took a math test in the gym.

Leonie Haimson said...

Some opt out figures:

PS 15 in Red Hook had 58 opt outs, close to 40%. far more than last year

Muscota New School in Washington Heights grew from 8 (or so) last year to 28 this year, out of 116. about 25%.

PS 84 in Brooklyn - went from 0 last year to at least 24 this year.

PS 321 in Brooklyn grew this year from 254 to 292 — about 40%.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous post:

On the 4th grade test today there were intentionally misleading questions. One involved a quote about 'a light over your head' and the answers for what that means included 'having a good idea' and something about understanding what's going on. Either of those could be true. Really difficult especially for my ESL kids who don't have that colloquial language.

Anonymous said...

error in 6th grade test:

FYI - Supplemental Page 20A
For the 2016 Common Core English Language Arts Tests Teacher’s Directions, Grades 6, 7, and 8
This supplemental page pertains solely to the administration of Session 3 of the 2016 Grade 6 English Language Arts Test. The purpose of this supplemental page is to have students correct a one-word typographical error in the instructions for students provided on page 6 of their Grade 6 – Book 3 prior to their beginning work in this test book.
Please print this page and insert it in between pages 20 and 21 of the Grades 6, 7, and 8 Teacher’s Directions.
After providing all of the instructions for Grade 6 students included on page 20 of the Teacher’s Directions, please provide the following supplemental instructions to students:
SAY Please turn to page 6 of your test book. [Pause while students do so.] At the top of the page, in the second sentence of the Directions, please cross out the word ‘article’ and write the word ‘answer’ above or below it. The new sentence should now read, “Then answer question 48.” When you have finished making the change, please turn back to page 1.
Are there any questions?
Pause for questions. When you are confident that all students have made the change and turned back to page 1 of their test book, continue with the SAY at the top of page 21 of the Teacher’s Directions.
20A 2016 Common Core English Language Arts Tests Teacher’s Directions

Anonymous said...

Another excerpt on 4th grade test was from a text with a lexile of 850 or grade 5.5.

Brooke said...

Ps84 up to 26 opt outs.

Anonymous said...

My daughter is in 3rd grade. Today was her first ever real test experience. She's not easily daunted, so I didn't expect her to be upset by it, but when I picked her up at the end of the day she said, "The test was awesome! We got to read these passages and answer questions and it was really easy and fun!" In light of everything I've been hearing, I feel pretty lucky. By the way, her friend had a similar reaction, although she granted there were one or two questions that required a bit more thought.

Anonymous said...

Daughter in 5th grade reported that test had a passage and questions that were identical to a passage from last year's test that her school used as a test prep question (Yasmeen's Turn). A friend in 6th grade reported the same issue.

Anonymous said...

My son is in 3rd grade he said the test wasn't as bad as he thought it would be. He was actually happy he took it. However he did make an error and put a straight line on his bubble answer sheet and his teacher called him out and humiliated him in front of the class. That is what I have a problem with this is his first big test and he didn't need to be belittled by a teacher of all people

Debbie said...

I received the following numbers today from the Public Information Officer at Shenendehowa Central School District in Clifton Park, NY, just north of Albany. She said these are not final until after the administration of the assessments, but these are the numbers they are sharing publicly.

ELA
Eligible 4568
Refused 641
Percentage 14%

Math
Eligible 4568
Refuse (so far) 606
Percentage 13.3%

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I heard that there was a reading section on the 3rd grade test titled, "The Astrophysicist". Ugh.

Anonymous said...

There were three fiction and two nonfiction passages on the 7th grade test. The questions were mostly doable with much thought. Not good for remedial and learning diability children. There were still some questions with ambiguous answers, but it actually looked a bit better than in years past. All but one child finished within the former 90 minute period, and he only needed five extra minutes. The passages were definitely appropriate to the seventh grade reading level.

Anonymous said...

When that happened once in our school, the state was notified and every piece of the test (vomit and all) had to be packaged and recorded like a scene from CSI.

Anonymous said...

Does that mean they are field testing 5th grade questions on 4th graders?

? said...

http://www.p12.nysed.gov/assessment/scoring/2016ei/importantnotice-ela16.pdf
No planning page in book 2. Students were told to use blank space once the test was in session.

Anonymous said...

Day 1 ELA test - 7th graders had several ambiguous questions asking for an opinion that couldn't have been supported by evidence from the text. It is fine for short response, but doesn't work with multiple choice questions.

Anonymous said...

4th grade test:

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/book/facts-and-fictions-minna-pratt#cart/cleanup excerpt with tricky questions

3rd grade test:

I saw that there was an excerpt from a biography of Neil deGrasse Tyson, which was written at a Lexile Level of 780 - definitely above the 3rd grade reading level. In my opinion, that Lexile level sits at a sweet spot between 5th and 6th grade (see chart and info below):

The tables below show the middle 50% of reader measures and text measures for each grade. The middle 50% is called the interquartile range (IQR). The lower number in each range marks the 25th percentile of readers or texts and the higher number in each range marks the 75th percentile of readers or texts. It is important to note that 25% of students and texts in the studies had measures below the lower number and 25% had measures above the higher number. Data for the reader measures came from a national sample of students.

Typical Reader Measures, by Grade
Grade Reader Measures, Mid-Year
25th percentile to 75th percentile (IQR)
1 Up to 300L
2 140L to 500L
3 330L to 700L
4 445L to 810L
5 565L to 910L
6 665L to 1000L
7 735L to 1065L
8 805L to 1100L
9 855L to 1165L
10 905L to 1195L

Anonymous said...

Looks like they are definitely targeting minority communities for school closures and charter takeovers
Where are the civil rights leaders??
They are ok with gazillionaires taking over schools for profit ?!

Anonymous said...

My 3rd grader said the test was "pretty easy". I spoke to 3 of her friends who all said the same. She finished early, as did a lot of her classmates, and was allowed to read a book or draw. She is in a DL general ed class, however, and is not an ELL or has an IEP. So she is luckier than some.

Anonymous said...

6th grade ELA test asked what "impossibly improbable" meant. No really, it did.

anonymous said...

4th graders could not agree as to whether "jack" was a border collie or a human... (form c)... ???

Anonymous said...

My son confirms these titles & said they were mostly interesting. He says today's selections were boring. Today there was one called Katarina's Wish.

Anonymous said...

Form F 4th grade had that jack border collie passage too. Story told from Jack's perspective. Jack is a dog but it was hard to figure out. Very challenging, confusing story for a 4th grader. It was an excerpt from Sheep by Valerie Hobbs and you had to read the 1-2 sentence summary at the beginning to figure out who the characters were. If you didn't know what a border collie was, you would not know that the story was told from a dog's point of view. The summary did not explicitly state that, you had to figure it out. And the text was confusing. Lots of inferencing required. Again, it's just an excerpt, decontextualized. The word haughty was used in the passage. And students had to write about how Jack's feelings about the sheep changed. When did the feelings change and why.
Also very detailed about herding sheep. Used a lot of vocabulary about sheep herding. Kids not familiar with that at all.

Anonymous said...

Re 3rd grade NYC test-- my daughter doesn't recall a "sniff" passage or an issue with the first question. She also doesn't remember a passage about an Astrophysicist or one referring to Neal Degrasse Tyson.... Are all third graders taking the same test?

Anonymous said...

Re: the 3rd grade question - no. There are different forms with different passages and questions.

Anonymous said...

The definition for vibrato was in italics above the title at the beginning of the story

Anonymous said...

Day 2 ELA - 4th grade. Questions such as:

How does paragraph 5 relate to paragraph 6?

Which line from the text best shows why the belief that the shark is a killer is wrong?(Inference required, tricky)

What is the contribution of paragraph X to the rest of the story?

What does "croaked" mean as used in paragraph Y?

Which detail would be most important to include in a summary of the story? (why make it so tricky to figure out? Why can't you say 'which sentence best describes the main idea?' Or 'which sentence best summarizes the main idea?')

Anonymous said...

Are you answering the question "are all 3rd graders taking the same test?"

Leonie Haimson said...

There was a question on the 4th grade exam, asking what "improbably impossible" means, in the context of a reading passage about weeds in which it was said that weeds are "improbably impossible" to kill. Question: what does it mean? Is it a double negative and thus means possible? I know what probably impossible means, but not improbably possible. How absurd!

Anonymous said...

4th grader stared at this question for 10 minutes, practically started crying. Student did not know the meaning of 'contribute' and there was no way to help student, to re-phrase question for student. The question was something like:

How does the first map contribute to our understanding of the content? Student had to write short response.

The other short response question was:
Why was the letter included in the passage?

Anonymous said...

Embedded field test questions only appear in Book 1 for grades 3,4,5. Only multiple choice.

Anonymous said...

Third grade test extended response ( with no planning page) question was "what kind of person is Emma?" This after an incredibly convoluted passage about a girl whose dad is away, has a friend who is leaving, raked leaves, and gets help on her homework. Every one of my students asked what the question meant. Other short answer and multiple choice questions so confusing. It is unbelievable that we pay millions for these tests, lose so many hours, and demoralize students and teachers in the process. The lesson is:submit to absurdity. Speaks volumes about our goals as a society.

Anonymous said...

No planning pages today for 4th grade and either 3rd or 5th.

Anonymous said...

Yes, 4th grade short response did ask how the the map contribute to the understanding of the content. I had several kids ask me what that meant, and of course I couldn't help them. I also had the resource room teacher tell me that my ESL student she was working with struggled with that same question. There was also the word "ewe" in one of the passages. Another ESL student raised his hand to ask me what a E - WE was.

4th grade - 3 blank pages in back of book after the word STOP. During middle of test had to interrupt kids to tell them to use the blank pages for planning. 3rd and 5th no blank pages.

Anonymous said...

MULTIPLE VIABLE ANSWERS: I only read the first two passages in the 7th grade exam on Day One, but in those questions I saw at least six that had 2-3 viable answers, causing stress, uneasiness and confusion. If I as a certified teacher can't tell which answer is "best" or "meant" or "most closely reflects central idea", how could a typical 7th grader?

Anonymous said...

There are two posts above saying that students were asked about "improbably impossible" with regard to the article on Weeds. One says it is Grade 6 and the other post said Grade 4. Can people confirm? Was this passage and question on BOTH the 4th and 6th grade ELA's? I know for sure it was on the 6th...

Leonie Haimson said...

Sorry that's my mistake- "improbably impossible" reading passage was on 6th gr exam as far as I know- not 4th.

If anyone has a copy of the passage & questions pl contact me offline at leoniehaimson@gmail.com thnx!

Anonymous said...

4th grade extended response question was inaccurate. Asked how the character's feelings toward SHEEP changed in the story. Was supposed to ask how their feelings about sheep HERDING changed. Character's feeling about sheep was that they smelled badly, that feeling NEVER changed. Feelings about the job of sheep herding changed though, which were excited, nervous, etc. Tests were much harder, longer, and not even close to developmentally appropriate. People still making alot of money off them though! Poor kids

Leonie Haimson said...

The phrase was "impossibly improbable" and it was in the context of promoting the dangerous herbicide "Round-up"; an excerpt is now posted on the blog here:
http://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/2016/04/3rd-day-of-ela-testing-please-add-yr.html

Anonymous said...

Anonymous post:
I administered the 4th grade ELA today. It SUCKED. The last passage was a first person point of view of a sheep dog. They barely explained that in the little explanation above the text, I had to go back myself to confirm that. I tested a small group of children with disabilities. 1 boy from a self contained setting refused to answer the 2 short responses. He was unproductive for 30 minutes I instructed him to skip them and read the last passage and do the extended response. He did and then he sat there playing with his pencils, the gum in his mouth and he drooled on his paper and smeared it all over the test booklet. I asked a hall monitor what to do, she spoke to him. He was still unproductive, I told him, just write anything. He didn't. He asked if he was allowed to quit. They sent an administrator up to talk to him, she told him to write anything. He played with his pencils, gum and drool some more. They came to get him for lunch which lasted 45 minutes. He is now sitting in a speech classroom, him and a proctor with that stupid, illogical test still in front of him. He is cognitively impaired, but not alternately assessed because his mom won't let him be and he has been sitting with a test he cannot finish for 2 hours and 45 minutes. I'm sick.

Anonymous said...

Short response questions on 4th grade test today:

What's the main idea of paragraphs 7-9?

Which character trait MOST helps X fly a kite? Use two details from the story.

What feeling does the author create in paragraphs 1 & 2? Use 2 details from the story.

In X, why are the tools the workers use to study the lizards important? Include 2 details from the story.

Extended response: Using both articles, why do these animals need help? How is the help these animals need similar and different in both articles?

There were three passages, 5 short response questions and 1 extended response questions.

Anonymous said...

On the 4th grade test, there was an excerpt from The Kite Fighters by Linda Sue Park. 6th grade reading level!

Interest Level
Grades 4 - 8
Reading Level
Grade level Equivalent: 6.3
Lexile® Measure: 880L
DRA: 60
Guided Reading: W

Anonymous said...

My 6th grader completed his ELA battery of tests today. He reports that, "Today was the worst. We had to write five short responses and one extended response. It was sooooooo looooong." His third day of testing started at 9:15 and ended at 11:40. Needless to say, he's exhausted. The first and second day were not so long, but he did say that some questions "were confusing--more than one answer could be right." For background: my son is a voracious reader, reads at level Z.

Anonymous said...

My 6th grader is also a voracious reader and has always performed well in test situations and not minded taking them. This year he found the first two days 'fine' but today he was annoyed and frustrated. He said the questions were very tricky and annoying.

Anonymous said...

Sixth grade test form c day 3 "Read the article. Then article question 48" HOW does one 'article' a question??!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

My son said Form K for 6th grade also had "read the article. Then article question 48".

Anonymous said...

6th graders struggled with book 2 and 3. Some worked for almost 3 hours. :(.

Anonymous said...

There was a frog story on the 4th grade test: Beware of Frogs! by Roxa Crowe. It was about a leopard frog. Poor ELLs who might have been confused about what animal the story was about. Leopard or frog?
In the 1-2 sentence summary at the beginning which I bet most kids didn't read, it said that migration was dangerous for frogs. But then at the end of the actual story, the author wrote "the frogs still can be dangerous." How confusing! The frogs themselves are not dangerous - their migration is dangerous for themselves and for people who might hit them with their car or whatever.

For the extended response, students had to compare the frog story with a story about a lizard. That story said the lizard is harmless.

So when pointing out differences between these two animals, I bet many kids will write that the frog is dangerous and the lizard is harmless. But really, the frog itself is not dangerous. Its migration is.

Anonymous said...

Five of my fourth grade students spent three hours on book 2... They missed snack and their special... I feel so bad for these young children... Three days and over an hour each day is too much!!!

KerryQ said...

From an anonymous teacher proctoring the 4th grade NYS ELA:

At the end of a passage entitled "Rushing West", which describes the different routes from west to east during the Gold Rush, there was a primary source letter. One of the short responses was "Why is the letter included in paragraph 15 of Rushing West"? Use 2 details from the article to support your response." Well, the whole idea is that the letter is included to personalize the non-fiction piece. As an adult reader, that is what I would think. It makes the passage more real and relatable. It emphasizes in words of the time the incredible challenge of such a voyage. I'm just not sure how you provide text support for that at a fourth grade level. It is really a feeling, an inference, if you will…no exact words will really explain that. It just seemed to be so above their heads and completely ridiculous.

Also, another question was "How does the 1st map contribute to the understanding of "Rushing West?" Use 2 details from the article to support your response." I think the test writers are using this formulaic "use 2 details to support" short response question when it is completely inappropriate. There aren't really 2 details from the text exactly. I could say, the map helps me understand the place and the routes, but that isn't really from the text, that is from my knowledge of the features of non-fiction text.

Another of my favorites was "How does paragraph 5 relate to paragraph 4?" Really? Just ask them what the cause and effect is. Don't be so vague in the wording.

I'm no rocket scientist, but as far as ELA goes, I always did well. I'm a language geek, just don't ask me to do math. So, I pretty much think that anything they ask on this test should be immediately apparent to me. I shouldn't have to struggle to figure out what they are getting at.

As far as the planning pages go- we just had them use an empty page after the essay.

The other thing is when you think of non-fiction text geared towards elementary students, it generally has all the bells and whistles that we teach- headings, pronunciation guides, glossaries, pictures, diagrams, etc...All of the above aid comprehension of a subject matter that isn't immediately relatable. On the test, they just get handed what amounts to a New Yorker article? How is that fair? Or pedagogically sound?

Anonymous said...

Was made to read the passages from the 7th grade test for scoring training purposes. BRUTAL. VERY difficult for the veteran English teachers I was with to pay attention to, understand, or even complete. There was one fiction piece, difficult for any of us to even get through, among 5 or so non fiction "excerpts." The passages were so poorly excerpted that the titles and point of view shifts made little sense. One passage was a non fiction account of an 1800 ship voyage, with nautical terms footnoted. A subsequent passage had many inappropriately difficult vocabulary words - not footnoted - but listed on the last page under the title Power Words. Too late for the reader to make any use of the definitions. There was a short answer question about the purpose/effect of a small "photograph" printed along with one of the passages. The photo had no caption and the image was difficult to discern. Awful.

Anonymous said...

3rd grade, day 2 had an article called Start Your Engines! By Ari Mahler. The article appeared in National Geographic Extreme Explorer, May 2009. This is a publication intended for students in grades 6-8! But it appeared on the 3rd grade test!
This is what the NatGeo site provides about the publication:

Extreme Explorer; Grades 6-8

Accessible informational text
Develops test taking skillsk
Appropriate for high school striving readers

Note: NatGeo, a reputable organization, says Extreme Explorer is "appropriate for high school striving readers" but NYSED used an article from it for the 3rd grade test?!? This was on the day 2 test so it wasn't even used to field test questions (field test questions only appeared in Day 1 test books).
The passage contained the phrases "the car hugs the road" and "middle class families" and included a wide range of vocabulary such as battery power, electric car, weapons, battlefield, French Army, cannon, conveyor belt.

Questions included:

The word 'drawback' shows that the electric car...

How are paragraphs 14-17 connected?

The headings divide the passage by ....

Catbreen25 said...

7th grade ELA - Please comment on this thread. The excerpts for the extended responses on days 2 and 3 did not give enough information to answer the questions. I read the excerpts 3 times each and then looked up the novels the excerpts came from. Sure enough the passages did not provided the support needed. I asked the really smart kids what they thought and they said they kept their tests and read the passages over and over looking for something. Then they said they made up an answer. Will someone who investigated "The Pineapple and the Hare," please look into this?

Dawn Renta said...

Which text 2 was that? Looking for info on the frog or lizard text

Dawn Renta said...

Looking for a readability level for grade 4 frog passage or lizard passage

z khan said...

unproduced news http://unproduced.screenplay.mobi/hollywood-manger/459.html