One Perspective On NYS Testing

I came across this comment and thought some readers might be interested since NYS testing is becoming such a very hot topic and there is still time to decide if you want your child in Grade 3-8 to take the tests or not.  The bottom line is that it is your choice and there are many opinions on it.

This article is a reprint from March 29, 2015 in the online version of Iohud: The Journal News by Anthony Cardinale.  The story is in the ‘Opinion‘ section and titled “View: State Testing And Parental Choice“.

Testing. It has become a dirty word. Last year, between 55,000 and 65,000 families refused to have their children take the New York State Common Core assessments. Those numbers are likely to increase in the coming weeks.

Parents and educators continue to voice their concerns regarding the vagueness of questions, a lack of transparency, the sheer length of the exams, and the recent monitoring of students’ social media accounts by Pearson. However, one of my major concerns is text complexity.

The best example of this can be found on the EngageNY website. “The Gray Hare,” by Leo Tolstoy, is included as a third grade sample reading passage. According to the Fry Readability Formula, this short story is written on a 7th grade reading level. As a teacher who has administered the last two Common Core ELA assessments, I can tell you that the passages presented to my students were just as difficult.

In addition to being unfair to students, the inclusion of these passages is in complete violation of Common Core Standard RL.3.10, which states that students should be reading material on their grade level. As a teacher and a parent, I know this is unjust.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will tell you the scores can be used by educators to improve instruction. But when the reading passages are this far above grade level, the scores become invalid. The only thing these tests tell me is that my third-graders cannot read on a seventh-grade level. I don’t need a test to tell me that.

This situation is not unique to third grade, either. All students in grades 3-8 have been placed in a similar situation for the past two years.

The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently upheld the rights of parents to direct the education of their children. As parents, this means we can choose to have our children take part in these assessments or we can refuse on their behalf. Luckily, I have several more years until my daughter is in third grade. But if these tests continue to be as inappropriate as they are now, I will have my refusal letter ready.

The writer, a Fishkill resident, is a third-grade teacher at Kent Elementary School in the Carmel district.

The question I generally have about a test is: Does it tests the students knowledge and does it provide information that the student and their parents can use to improve upon?  To me the purpose of testing is to provide feedback to the individual completing the test/assessment so they can see their progress, fix issues or knowledge gaps, plan for the future and celebrate their accomplishments. Currently, it seems to me these assessments are just focused on teacher evaluations and teachers ‘teach to the test’ knowing the results are used that way.

Yes it is important that the results are used to improve instructional methods and also to coordinate learning across the state but it should not overshadow the individual asked to complete the test.  It would seem from the Mr Cardinale’s knowledge that the tests fail to meet another important criteria…they are not age, grade, nor knowledge appropriate.


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Filed under Education, Education Reform, Parenting, Test

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