Dear New York: WTF?!!!

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Bored of Ed, Apr 18, 2013.

  1. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    Apr 18, 2013

    We just finished the ELA portion of state testing.
    :eek:
    :eek:
    :eek:
    It was unreal. I'm not sure what went on in other grades, but the ones I saw did not seem at all appropriate for the intended grade level. Besides the passages themselves, a number of students could not understand the questions well enough to compose any answers, we are not allowed to explain any words, and personally I felt that the kids' questions were mainly reasonable (i.e. the words they didn't understand were not the type that you would expect every kid at that level to know. Some, sure, but not all.) Of the multiple choice questions, there were quite a few where there was such a fine line between the correct answer and the "second best" or even third best that even I wasn't quite sure I knew which was intended. And the whole thing was so long and cumbersome; I think something half the length would have been just as sufficient to see which kids know how to comprehend and respond to text - instead, we'll get a very skewed view because many of the kids were so burnt out eventually that they started skimming and guessing. Even if they curve the grades, it won't help all the students who might have done OK on an appropriate passage but were so lost today that they couldn't conjure up any response at all.

    What a waste of time. The worst is that many students will be so frustrated now that they'll give up trying. You would have thought the people (it took great self control not to call them anything else just now) making up the tests would have been more careful after last year's talking pineapple debacle. What is the world coming to?
     
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  3. Mr.history

    Mr.history Cohort

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    Apr 18, 2013

    I think all the tests should be short answer rather than multiple choice. (maybe except math)
     
  4. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    Apr 18, 2013

    The standards have gone up considerably this year, so I've heard. I heard that here in NJ, they're expecting scores might drop as much as 30% due to this increase in difficulty this year.
     
  5. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Apr 18, 2013

    Could be PAARC-like questions sprinkled in...
     
  6. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    Apr 18, 2013

    Mr. History, it was a 90 minute (is YOUR attention span that long? Mine isn't. With no breaks!) session of multiple choice, next day 90 minutes of combined multiple choice, short answer (paragraph size), and one longer essay, and then the next day 90 minutes of paragraphs and essays.

    Yes, Jerseygirl, this is happening because they raised the standards, but I'm not sure whether the problem is with the standards, or the tests, or both. One of those 5th grade passages looked almost Shakespearean. I have to take issue with standards or tests that are based on wishful thinking rather than developmental appropriateness.
     
  7. MissD59

    MissD59 Comrade

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    Apr 19, 2013

    PAARC like, for sure...but the way the test was written made no sense.

    You should have seen how many questions were "in paragraph ___, what was the main idea?", or, "Which paragraph....."

    The students had to look up virtually every answer because not even the best readers can recall which of an enumerated list of paragraphs best supported the passage's theme.

    The third grade ELA has an overwhelming amount of these questions, requiring them to flip back and forth to a different page for nearly every question. This could be devastating for a student with special needs, motor planning issues and attentional issues.

    The entire test was developmentally inappropriate, IMHO.

    Classrooms of gened students who struggled to finish the second day in the allotted amount of time. The second day asked the students to do far too much. Half the students in many classes were unable to finish on the second day. Some students broke down crying in the middle of the test.

    The multiple choice questions were vague, and in some cases, even teachers couldn't agree on a correct response. The passages were challenging; one third grade poem was written in British syntax and included completely inappropriate vocabulary.

    I have to echo Board of Ed's "WTF" on this one. I really question the validity of a standardized assessment made by Pearson that features passages that are also printed in Pearson curriculum materials. If your school uses a Pearson reading program, does this mean they have an advantage on the state tests?
     
  8. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Apr 19, 2013

    Are you allowed to read the test? In my state teachers are not allowed to read it.
     
  9. MissD59

    MissD59 Comrade

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    Apr 19, 2013

    "No."

    ...but if you're proctoring for special education students, there's kind of no way around that. Especially if you're 1:1 with certain modifications.
     
  10. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Apr 19, 2013

    Well, whatever the issue, it sounds like it was awful and just didn't work.
     
  11. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    Apr 19, 2013

    MissD59, even with accommodations you don't read it to the students. The "questions read aloud" accommodation is only for math. So even if the poor kids got something out of the passage, they are totally stuck if they don't understand the questions. I had that with a few kids, they didn't understand one of the key words in an essay question so their answers, while fairly intelligent, were way off base. It was a word that would have been pretty normal for a kid that age to know, but not basic enough to be expected of everyone.

    I think Caesar meant, are we allowed to read it at all. That's actually a good question and I'm embarrassed to say I don't even know. I just re-read the testing directions here http://www.p12.nysed.gov/assessment/ei/2013/td-ela35-13.pdf and it's not entirely clear - it does say that the content can't be reviewed/discussed/shared, which is why I'm deliberately being vague and not telling you WHICH hi'falutin words I object to imposing on 5th graders. It also does say that the proctor should have their own copy, so presumably you're allowed to look at it.
     
  12. MissD59

    MissD59 Comrade

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    Apr 19, 2013

    I'm aware that we can't read to the student, even if their accommodations call for reading aloud, on the ELA. I just meant that even if the laws stated that teachers cannot read the test, it's kind of impossible to not read the passages/questions/responses when you are supposed to be transferring the student's circled answers to the scantron form for them as part of their accommodations. Unless a robot administers the test to every single child, teachers are going to see the questions/answers.

    I suppose I worded that badly, sorry! I'm unsure of the laws, as I've heard people say that you are not to read the test at all, and others say that you're just not supposed to discuss the content.

    And I agree with being vague...I was intentionally as well. There was one word on the 3rd grade assessment in a passage that I asked a bunch of adults about, and not one could define it. I can't even...
     
  13. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    Apr 19, 2013

    Thanks for the clarification. In that case, I'm with you.

    In addition to the vocabulary being just plain hard (as in, high school hard) on 5th grade test, I also think a word was used incorrectly (a commonly confused word, but come on, you're the test). But I don't recall exactly.
     
  14. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Apr 20, 2013

    That sounds like a completely unnecessary mess! As an educator, can you offer feedback on the assessment to the state? If this is a new version under new content standards, then it would be helpful- I would assume- to the state to know what worked and what did not.

    What grade do you test? I know my 4-6th graders take a 90-minute test section and it is tiring for them. We're not allowed to assign any homework or assessments that day and we're asked to try to take it a bit easier in class instruction- maybe do more of a fun activity then an intense note-taking lesson.
     
  15. MissD59

    MissD59 Comrade

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    Apr 20, 2013

    Three days of ELA. 3rd and 4th graders get 70 minutes on each of those 3 days, the 5th-8th get 90 minutes each day. This is followed by 3 days of math testing next week for the above grades.
     
  16. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Apr 20, 2013

    Our released items are all like this. It's tough.

    http://www.tea.state.tx.us/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=2147503480
     
  17. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Apr 22, 2013

    I teach 3rd grade in the NY. I think the multiple choice was ridiculously hard. The passages were difficult the questions were extremely tricky.

    The 2nd and 3rd day I felt like the passages were MUCH easier. All year our school has been preaching "text complexity, text complexity" and I felt like the passages weren't nearly as complex as some that we've read and practiced with this year. But with that being said the questions they had to answer for the writing and the amount of time they were given to answer was insane and completely unfair. How can you expect them to do so much "close reading" and going back to the text when you give them such a short amount of time?

    Day 2 was the most ridiculous. Why did they have to answer MORE multiple choice questions AND do short response and extended response. All in 70 minutes? Not fair at all. If they really feel the text needs to be THAT long then the 3rd and 4th graders should be given 90 minutes too, or they need to shorten the test.

    I hope math is a little easier on these kids.
     
  18. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    Apr 22, 2013

    I also dare to hope math goes better, but I'm not so optimistic because the sample questions were not very pretty at all. I agree that one of the problems with ELA was that it was just too much. In the passages, I didn't feel the complexity as much as just really high vocabulary. REALLY high. I am afraid to mention words because we can't discuss the secure materials... but they were hard.
     
  19. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Apr 23, 2013

    I didn't notice the vocabulary too much but I also didn't look too closely because I was having quite a few behavior issues during testing so I was focused on that. I think the math will come down to how wordy the word problems are. If there's so long and drawn out with tons of words where the kids have to really work to break them down and figure it out step by step they'll be exhausted by the third problem and picking random answers by #4. I know some of my kids can do those types of problems but they're exhausting.
     
  20. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Apr 23, 2013

    One can't help but wonder what population these exams are being field-tested on.

    If I ran the world, every edition of every test would have to be vetted by one or more panels of well-socialized gifted-and-talented kids a grade ahead of the test - that is, fifth grade geeks vetting the fourth grade test - whose job would be to ferret out the badly written questions, the questions that presuppose having lived in X area of the country, the stupid questions, the boring questions, and the questions that take too darned long.

    When so much depends on the outcome, and even when it doesn't, there is no excuse whatsoever for badly written questions.
     
  21. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    TG, that's a great idea. The smart kids can be smarter than a whole panel of adults.

    I don't know who field-tested this year's tests, but field testing questions for future tests are mixed in with this year's real questions.

    I didn't find so many badly-written questions as much as just too hard. Questions written fine but using vocabulary that was too high - it was a word that you could reasonably expect many kids to know, but it shouldn't be required to the extent that the kids who didn't know the word would have NO clue what the extended-response question was about at all. There was also one question where the phrasing of the question was not problematic, but the question itself was just so vague that one wouldn't have a clue what to respond, especially the "overthinkers."
     
  22. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Apr 24, 2013

    I thought today was very fair. Just makes me nervous that the next two days might be way worse. I hope I'm wrong.
     
  23. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    Apr 24, 2013

    Yes, math was challenging but reasonably so. I'm nervous about the extended response but nobody sees those until Friday
     

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