Tuesday, March 28, 2017

What was the test like today? Please leave your comments below!

Today is the first day of the NY State ELA exams for grades 3-8. 

As in previous years, we are asking teachers, parents and students to comment on how these exams went in their schools and if there were errors, ambiguous questions, product placements, or reading passages too difficult or inappropriate for the grade level of the students tested, as has occurred each year since the exams were redesigned to "align" with the Common Core. 

Remember, it was on this blog in 2012 that we first reported on the Pineapple question on the 8th grade exam, which quickly gained national renown and still lives on as a symbol of ridiculous, poorly written standardized exams and the lack of accountability of the testing companies.  Last year, the ELA exam was chock full of overly long, dense and grade-inappropriate reading passages with numerous typos, abstruse vocabulary and confusing questions.  Was the test better this year?  Please tell us below.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

On the 8th grade ELA, a passage from Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener" was included followed by multiple choice questions. THIS IS A COLLEGE LEVEL TEXT. It was written in 1853. The language is beyond dense with antiquated vocabulary. TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE and could in NO way assess an 8th grader. My 12AP Lit students (who studied that story this year) were horrified, saying that they struggled with understanding that story, 8th graders must have felt "SO stupid" as they tried to decipher that text.

Disgusted teacher said...

Third grade was ridiculous extremely hard very ambiguous. Vocabulary was higher than an eighth grade test. This testing is out of control even my best reader struggled it was no where near third grade range. Totally disgusted with state exam and I fcoukd promote opting out I would

Lisa said...

Please provide the specific vocab. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

8th grade reading passage excerpt:

Pepper pungencies are also compared by using chromatography. Chromatography is an analytical technique that separates the chemical components of a mixture. After separation, the amounts of each component are quantified. Chromatography can determine how much capsaicin is in a pepper. It can also determine how much allyl isothiocyanate is in wasabi. If two chili peppers have the same amount of capsaicin, it can be assumed that those peppers are equally "hot." But the same assumption cannot be made when comparing chili peppers to wasabi. There's no way to know if equal amounts of capsaicin and allyl isothiocyanate cause equal degrees of pain. So chromatography cannot definitively judge this contest.

It isn't even possible to directly measure and compare nerve responses, since two different types of pain receptors are involved. Wasabi and chili peppers are like pungent apples and oranges. There's no objective way to declare one more potent than the other. This friendly competition won't be shared anytime soon. Everyone is free to chime in with an opinion. You just have to try both of these pungent powerhouses, then root for your own favorite flavor of pain.

Anonymous said...

The students should have responded as Bartleby responded to his boss, " I would prefer not to,"( take this exam, sir.) This is beyond ironic to have this literature passage on such contentious exam.

Anonymous said...

Field testing questions embedded within today's test hurt students. Fifth grade students deal with 5 passages. The entire third passage and the seven questions that followed were different across the various test forms, indicating that the whole text and question set will not count towards student scores. Why waste students' time with it on an ACTUAL exam? Field test questions are notoriously ambiguous because their validity is still being assessed. My students struggled with the third passage and expended a lot of stamina on it, which hurt them on the last two passages. If we must field test passages, can we not at least place those questions LAST. I had a boy still testing at 2 pm. He spent an hour on the third text (which gained him no points) and was forced to randomly fill in bubbles for the last two stories (which do count!) in order to finish by day's end. Where's the logic? Why don't we do separate field testing like a few years ago?

Leonie Haimson said...

The problem with separate field testing is that students don't take it seriously and thus the results aren't as reliable. However, having really hard questions as embedded field test questions on some exams and others easier is unfair to the students struggling with the hard questions. And the tests shouldn't be so long! This tests endurance more than comprehension.

Anonymous said...

3rd Grade was BRUTAL today. The questions and passages were way over students' heads, both on level and readability. Students read an excerpt from STAT: Standing Tall & Talented by Amar'e Stoudemire, rated Level Q and 6-8 grade readability. In the questions, they had to define the phrase 'ran that back'. Next, they read an article called 'Astrophysicist and Space Advoctate Neil DeGrasse Tyson', which comes from a Level U book. What 3rd Grader would know what astrophysics is?!

The questions were rough, and definitely not appropriate for 3rd grade. Half if not more asked students some variation of 'How does paragraph X relate to paragraph Y in the story?' I highly doubt any teacher approved these questions, as NYSED claims.

Last, 3rd Grade tests were spiraled, so many students had completely different reading passages in the 2nd half of the test. There is NO WAY that this can be reliable or valid to compare students across the state if they are all answering different questions about different passages!

Anonymous said...

Four passages that are well above grade level with 6 multiple choice questions most of which require that a student go back into the text and the answer is still difficult to figure out is ridiculous. Kids were twitching. Two of mine cried. I administered to 7 children with reading disabilities. They didn't stand a chance. It makes me angry. I spent all year inspiring them to feel excited about learning and confident and in 10 minutes NYS made them feel like idiots. Additionally 3.5 hours after the rest started there are still 25-30 kids in a new location still testing. One said they were afraid to quit.

Leonie Haimson said...

http://www.newsday.com/long-island/education/some-li-third-graders-given-wrong-common-core-exam-1.13325036

Sixty-four third-graders — including 12 from Long Island — were erroneously given exams meant for fourth-graders on the first day of computer-based English Language Arts testing in New York, state education officials confirmed Monday.

The errors affected students in three of the four Long Island school districts that introduced the electronic Common Core tests Monday.

Leonie Haimson said...

Quote from a NY teacher:

"Today I had to read the entire test to middle school special Ed students. The words were impossible for even adults to understand. Kids were in tears.
One was banging his head on the desk calling himself "stupid"."

Tell me again why we should not opt out. Is it our job to punish children with disabilities? The people who insist on this ridiculous testing regime should be jailed for child abuse.

Leslie B. said...

Third grade test one word- ASTROPHYSICIST. What the heck was that?

Anonymous said...

4th grade test:
Multiple choice questions from Scarlet Ribbon by Emily Hoffman - How does the narrator's point of view most affect the reader's understanding of the story? Which best supports the meaning of 'surged' as used in the passage? Which best supports the meaning of ''plodding' as used in the passage? Vocabulary defined for students as a text feature: impelled, frivolity.

Other passages:
Stunt Performers by Tony Hyland
Ruby Goldberg's Bright Idea by Anna Humphrey
One Day & One Amazing Morning on Orange St. by Joanne Rocklin. This excerpt included 5 vocabulary terms
defined as a text feature. Made for dense reading.

Anonymous said...

5th grade (5 passages):
Trading Places by Claudia Mills - what does 'straggled' suggest about Todd, Amy and the father?
Clara Barton by Stephen Krensky - two endnotes defined: ridgepole and aplomb. What is the meaning of 'to rein Clara in?'
Dark Past of Polar Bears by Rebecca Hirsch
All Shook Up by Shelley Pearsall
Coach Motivates Her Girls, Both On and Off the Court by Martha Irvine
endnotes defined: candor, hone, memorabilia
What is the meaning of 'take it up a notch?"

Anonymous said...

Third grade - 4 passages
Stat: Home Court by Amare Stoudemire
What is the meaning of the phrase 'ran that back'?
Which quotation best shows the central message of the story?
Astrophysicist and Space Advocate Neil de Grade Tyson by Marne Ventura
In paragraph 3, when the author says "Neil felt like the universe was calling him'
she is referring to....
Long Way Home by Lisa Amstutz
Which phrase from paragraph 4 best explains the meaning of 'lofts' as used in the paragraph?
What is the meaning of 'rely'?
How does detail about sonar waves in paragraph 10 connect to information in paragraph 13?
Ukulele Hayley by Judy Cox
Included a vocabulary term defined in a text feature: cutbacks = less money available for spending
What is the central message?

Anonymous said...

5th grade test - passage has the picture of the food pyramid. We haven't used the food pyramid in 12, yes TWELVE years! Get with the program.

Anonymous said...

Students in my school tested from 8:45 this morning until 2:17

Leonie Haimson said...

More than 73,000 opt outs reported on Long Island -- despite the obnoxious pushback by some principals. https://www.longislandpress.com/2017/03/29/common-core-ela-refusals-long-island/

Fred Smith said...

Please see:

https://dianeravitch.net/2017/03/29/to-new-york-parents-a-warning-about-the-common-core-tests/

To New York Parents: A Warning about the Common Core Tests
By dianeravitch March 29, 2017 // 13

Students in New York sat for the ELA Comin Core tests on Tuesday. The test will continue for three days, an ordeal lengthier than graduate school exams.
Leonie Haimson invited teachers and parents to share their stories about the test, which is otherwise blanketed in deep secrecy.
Testing expert Fred Smith sent this comment:
Thank you, Leonie for inviting the comments of observers who otherwise have been silenced by SED and DOE from breathing a word about the exams.
I’m sure we will find that the improved 2017 ELA exams have the same flaws as the ones Pearson has produced since 2012.
To me, the following exchange on your blog concerning field testing is particularly important because it succinctly describes what is wrong with field testing—both embedded and stand-alone field testing—which continue to plant the seeds that perpetuate bad exams. Yet, SED has run interference for the publisher, selling our kids out so tests can be developed on their backs.

Anonymous said…

Field testing questions embedded within today’s test hurt students. Fifth grade students deal with 5 passages. The entire third passage and the seven questions that followed were different across the various test forms, indicating that the whole text and question set will not count towards student scores. Why waste students’ time with it on an ACTUAL exam? Field test questions are notoriously ambiguous because their validity is still being assessed. My students struggled with the third passage and expended a lot of stamina on it, which hurt them on the last two passages. If we must field test passages, can we not at least place those questions LAST. I had a boy still testing at 2 pm. He spent an hour on the third text (which gained him no points) and was forced to randomly fill in bubbles for the last two stories (which do count!) in order to finish by day’s end. Where’s the logic? Why don’t we do separate field testing like a few years ago?”

Blogger Leonie Haimson said…

“The problem with separate field testing is that students don’t take it seriously and thus the results aren’t as reliable. However, having really hard questions as embedded field test questions on some exams and others easier is unfair to the students struggling with the hard questions. And the tests shouldn’t be so long! This tests endurance more than comprehension.”

Fred Smith continues:
Each year since 2012, the core-aligned test years, questions have been tried out without informing parents that their children were being used as unknowing subjects for commercial purposes. SED and DOE have gone out of their way to leave parents out of the loop for fear they would object—and say NO! And they might exercise their right to OPT OUT.

Note: Educational Testing Service, a testing giant, recently acquired Questor which had been awarded a 5-year contract in 2016 to succeed Pearson in furnishing the statewide exams. It now appears that Questor merely served as a pass-through window, allowing Pearson to exit and be replaced by ETS. Both companies have played a major role in promoting the Common Core and the riches it opens up to them in marketing related educational material. (Yet, even ETS, which administers the SAT, makes test-takers aware that parts of that exam are experimental.)

Leonie, please include the following link to an opinion piece I wrote on the grim reality of a state testing program that has been abetted by SED and DOE through their efforts to suppress information. They treat parents with disdain. Diane Ravitch ran it yesterday.

https://dianeravitch.net/2017/03/27/fred-smith-the-pathetic-lies-of-the-new-york-state-education-department-in-service-of-the-testing-regime/

It expands on the above.

Fred

Anonymous said...

Day 2 of grade 4 ELA test - there was a short response question that was very confusing. Some kids didn't answer it, others stared at it for a while and tried their best. The kids really struggled with this question and you could see the frustration and stress on their faces. In fact, many 4th graders spent over 2 hours taking today's test. Students read an excerpt from Underwater by Debbie Levy. The short response question was: What does paragraph 23 reveal about Gabe? Use 2 details from the story to support your answer. The "paragraph" was really a line, a sentence that read "Look how easy it was for Amy Wheeler to invite me over to see her dad's fish." So presumably the students were looking at that single sentence to get their two details. Also, the use of the term 'paragraph' probably threw them off because 4th graders are accustomed to viewing a paragraph as 4+ sentences on a single topic. In this passage, "paragraph" 23 was just 1 line.

Anonymous said...

I just Googled STAT. It shows as grade level 3-5.

Anonymous said...

5th grade, day 2. Three major issues:

1) "contributes to the development" of a paragraph question. This is the kind of question you'd seen in middle school exams, not 5th grade.

2) Two short responses, asking for, at least, two details per answer, only given a half-page to answer both questions. Past tests allowed for a page per question to allow the kids to answer in detail, but not this year.

3) Last passage had two characters write letters back and forth. However, the only thing demonstrating the differences between the letters were italic font on the follow-up letters. Every book I've read that has referenced a full letter has boxed or blocked those letters to show the letters are separate. Many of my students with special needs struggled to separate the author from the kid writing to the author because of the inexcusable font.

No book editor would have allowed the letters to be printed one below the other with nothing more signifying a different letter than the second letter being in italics. Why do test makers want less for our students?

Anonymous said...

Day 3 of ELA - 4th grade (5 short response questions and one long response, all written, no multiple choice)
Reading passage: excerpt from Wolf Stalker by Gloria Skurzynski and Alane Ferguson
1.) In paragraph 14, why do the authors say the wolf stepped "gingerly"? Use 2 details from the story to support your answer. How many 4th graders know what 'gingerly' means? It wasn't defined for them. Inappropriate.
2.) How does the narrator's point of view affect how the characters and events are described in the story? Use 2 details from the story to support your answer. Again, this is 4th grade, not HS, not college. So inappropriate.

Reading passage 2: excerpt from Double Dutch: Celebration of Jump Rope Rhyme and Sisterhood by Veronica Chambers
2 vocabulary terms were defined for students: embodiment and sorority (getting those kids college ready!)
3.) In paragraph 3, what does "At first, Tahira was stumped mean?" Use 2 details from the story to support your answer. Really? Two details are required to answer this? I'm assuming students struggled to find a second detail. Every question, every single one, required 2 details. Some ?s don't need 2 details to be answered correctly. Yet the students feel that if they don't provide 2 stinking details they will get it wrong. So it takes them a long time to finish the test as they search and search for that 2nd bloody detail to add to their response. The poor kids. They were such troopers.
4.) In the passage, what did Tahira think about the sport of Double Dutch as an adult? Use 2 details from the story to support your answer.

Reading passage 3: excerpt from It's Our World Too! Philip M. Hoose (guided reading T, grades 6-8)
5.) In paragraph 2, what made the bike seem "perfect" to Justin? Use 2 details from the story to support your answer.

6.) Long written response question: re: In Double Dutch and It's Our World Too! Describe the problem each individual faces. How are the ways they solve the problem similar and different? Use details from both articles to support your response.

This was a long, grueling test. Day 3 of the ELA. 4th grade.

alice said...

Grade 5. Day 3. My entire class sat for the tests for over 2 hours today. Untimed in my school means everyone stays put until the last kid finishes, unless it's lunchtime, and then they take the still testing kids to another room after letting them have something to eat.
So much for relieving testing stress by un-timing the tests. It felt like child abuse. I had trouble with the length of silence as an adult. And because they save the hardest for the last day, some of my best writers wrote skimpy or incomplete essays today because they were so tired. The multiple choice questions should go last. There should only be one day of testing.
We're headed into CSE and IEP season here. I'm going to recommend students have state testing accommodations that allow them to leave the room once they're done testing. Giving them short breaks isn't good enough for kids with ADHD, OCD, and other issues that makes sitting for such great lengths of time a significant challenge.
Where's the EVIDENCE that un-timed tests are supported by research and best for kids????! I need at least two pieces of text-based (read: researched) evidence.
OY!

Anonymous said...

Before everyone here start criticizing how bad the tests were, why don't we start criticizing how bad the school system is? We don't prepare our children by getting them to start reading and writing up to standards. On the contrary, we have a totally different group of regulators dumping down tests that don't correspond to how the children are taught today. If our children are given the right education, the tests should not be a problem. We need to start treating the tests as another day for the children think deeper, ie, what is the theme, what is the author trying to express- critical thinking - and teach our children to do that. The tests will be just another day in class whereby they are challenged. Stop criticizing the tests, but start coming up with ways to better educate our children.