Learning Is Over – The State Tests Are Here
Here in New York, the state tests are upon us. Literally days will be spent administering exams that are increasingly divorced from anything that an educated person would recognize as learning. In fact, a recent article on the webpage of our local public radio station drew attention to the pointlessness and ambiguity of some of the questions on the English test by recounting a discussion by a group of college professors as to the answers to several questions. These Ph.D.s often couldn’t agree on the correct answer. Imagine the consternation of young students attempting to grapple with such questions.
What must the parents of the children taking these exams think about them when as happened in my district the assistant superintendent for instructions wrote to them announcing the testing season and sharing with them several paragraphs from the state’s advisory memorandum on the new brad of tests to be rolled out this spring. Written in the inimitable opaque language of our State Education Department, funereal in tone, a parent would have to wonder whether or not it was safe to send her kids to take the exam. In case you think I exaggerate, wrap your mind around the following:
1. “In 2013, New York State, for the first time, will be reporting 3rd through 8th grade student grade-level expectations against a trajectory of college- and career-readiness as measured by tests fully reflective of the Common Core. As a result, the number of students who score at or above grade level expectations will likely decrease.”
2. “As mentioned above, we expect the assessment scores will decline. But we also expect that decline will have little or no impact on principals’ and teachers’ State-provided growth scores. Based on New York’s approach to measuring growth relative to demographically similar students, similar proportions of educators will earn each rating category (Highly Effective, Effective, Developing, and Ineffective) in 2012-13 compared to 2011-12.”
3. Throughout the year and on these exams, students have and will be expected to read more challenging texts, to better support their arguments with evidence drawn from text, to write from sources, to achieve deep conceptual understanding of the most important math concepts of each grade, and to apply their math skill to real world problems.
My kid is going to be measured against”… a trajectory of college…”? But my kid is only ten years old. I have trouble getting him to have a deep conceptual understanding of the importance of brushing his teeth. Is it any wonder more and more parents across the country are opting their kids out of these tests, one way or another –even though the letter home to our district’s parents said they can’t do that. It’s encouraging to see parents refusing to put up with this crap.