Katie Lapham, an elementary school English-as-a-Second-Language teacher in New York, took to her blog to express her disappointment with New York’s Common Core assessment developed by Pearson.
She stated that the test was still too long, there were issues with the content, but the complaints I wanted to highlight is in in regards to the test questions being confusing and the reading passages not being age appropriate.
The questions were confusing. They were so sophisticated that it appeared incongruous to me to watch a third grader wiggle her tooth while simultaneously struggle to answer high school-level questions. How does one paragraph relate to another?, for example. Unfortunately, I can’t disclose more. The multiple-choice answer choices were tricky, too. Students had to figure out the best answer among four answer choices, one of which was perfectly reasonable but not the best answer. Here’s what P.S. 321’s principal,Elizabeth Phillips, wrote about the 2014 Common Core tests. Her op-ed We Need to Talk About the Test appeared in The New York Times on April 9, 2014. These same issues were evident on the third grade 2016 ELA test.
“In general terms, the tests were confusing, developmentally inappropriate and not well aligned with the Common Core standards. The questions were focused on small details in the passages, rather than on overall comprehension, and many were ambiguous. Children as young as 8 were asked several questions that required rereading four different paragraphs and then deciding which one of those paragraphs best connected to a fifth paragraph. There was a strong emphasis on questions addressing the structure rather than the meaning of the texts. There was also a striking lack of passages with an urban setting. And the tests were too long; none of us can figure out why we need to test for three days to determine how well a child reads and writes.”
…The reading levels of the passages were above “grade” level, whatever “grade” level means these days. One passage was an article recommended for students in grades 6-8. Has the NYSED done any research on early childhood education?Defending the Early Years cites a Gesell Institute of Child Development report that says,
“…the average age at which children learn to read independently is 6.5 years. Some begin as early as four years and some not until age seven or later – and all of this falls within the normal range.”
Yet for the NYS Common Core ELA test, the NYSED expects all third graders to be able to decode and comprehend texts that are typically used with fourth, fifth and sixth graders?
Be sure to read her whole article.
HT: Valerie Strauss