Tuesday, April 30, 2013

When You Come to the Word STOP...

Yesterday I had the pleasure chore of scoring the New York State English Language Arts Test. Or more specifically, just one question - Book 4 Extended Response #73.  All.   Day.   Long.

At the risk of someone coming to break my thumbs....here are my thoughts about the testing:
1. The directions were too darn long. 
Exhibit A:
    I had to read THOSE SAME WORDS every day....for 6 days.  And REPEAT the "list of devices". Really? REALLY??  After the third day, I wanted to just say, "Okay...you know the drill...fork over your loot." But I didn't want any well-intentioned cherub to imply to their folks that I was not taking The Test seriously.  There was a surprising amount of "communications devices" collected:

    2. Two booklets in one day is too much
    On the second day of the New York State English Language Arts Test, I had to read directions for Book 2 (multiple choice), then read virtually identical directions for Book 3 (short answer/essay), and then instruct them to start with the Book 2. ?????  After 20 minutes of set-up they were burned out and confused before it even began.

    3. It's too long
    Whatever information can be gleaned from 6 days of testing could be done in four. The first day wasn't so bad, but on the second day.....the children knew just how long 90 minutes was going to feel. And despite my best efforts to keep things light, I had two students feeling ill and need to go to the nurse.

    4. A Math Test should assess MATH
    And not be focused almost exclusively on reading comprehension. The test should provide feeback on whether or not a child knows that particular SKILL.  Not their experience with the format of the question. 

    5. All the tests should be made public after the testing session is complete
    Taxpayers and parents have a right to know how the children are being assessed. We pay a lot of money for these tests. Why the secrecy?

    Simply said, I am glad they are over and we can get on with our actual goal - learning.

    Disclaimer: Before someone comes to cap my knees..... I got the picture above from a pdf of the Teacher's Directions available for inquiring minds to download here.


    1. I am a NYS teacher also! On the beautiful last Saturday I spent 6 and a half hours indoors scoring ELA. Next Saturday it will be another day correcting math. (At least we are getting paid hourly.) I corrected 3rd because we were not allowed to correct our own grade levels. (5th) All 6 days was exhausting for myself and poor students. The math definitely could have been cut down from less than 3 days. I know in years past parents would not get their child's scores until the following school year. Not sure about this year. Since testing is so "big and important", I think parents should get the results before the year is over, or even have it be on their child's report card.


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