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Sun Apr 14, 2013, 02:48 PM

Tests So New They Outpace Lesson Plan

At Public School 10 on the edge of Park Slope, Brooklyn, parents begged the principal to postpone the lower school science fair, insisting it was going to add too much pressure while they were preparing their children for the coming state tests. . .

And at Public School 24 in the Riverdale neighborhood in the Bronx, a fifth-grade teacher, Walter Rendon, has found himself soothing tense 10- and 11-year-olds as they pore over test prep exercises. “Sometimes, I say: ‘Just breathe.’ ”

New York public school students and parents are, by now, accustomed to standardized tests. But a pall has settled over classrooms across the state because this year’s tests, which begin Tuesday, are unlike any exams the students have seen. They have been redesigned and are tougher. And they are likely to cover at least some material that has yet to make its way into the curriculum.

The new tests, given to third through eighth graders, are intended to align with Common Core standards, a set of unified academic guidelines adopted by almost every state, goaded by grant money offered by the Obama administration. They set more rigorous classroom goals for American students, with a focus on critical thinking skills, abstract reasoning in math and reading comprehension.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/15/nyregion/with-tougher-standardized-tests-a-reminder-to-breathe.html?hp



A BIG curve:

The preparation sessions also include anxiety relief. In Mr. Rendon’s classroom in Riverdale, test drills are preceded by breathing exercises and “modified yoga” poses. Some schools, like Ms. DaProcida’s, held pep rallies last week to raise students’ spirits.

The city has spent $125 million on the Common Core, including teacher training sessions and the establishing of Common Core leaders who can teach and evaluate new practices. It also expects to spend more than $50 million on new Common Core-aligned textbooks.

Statistically speaking, city officials said, people should not worry too much about falling marks because everyone is taking the same new tests. Schools, students and teachers will be judged against one another.


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Response to elleng (Original post)

Sun Apr 14, 2013, 02:58 PM

1. It's the latest stupid belief in education: similar to "if you test it, they will learn."

Yeah, "if you build it, they will come" worked in a movie, but in reality, ghost towns, abandoned malls, dead factories and many other built things are dead and empty still.

Apparently childhood development hasn't been taught in some years or is not required among management in education. These adult tactics will only convince small kids that they are stupid and worthless.

Even at the high school level, some kids are still concrete thinkers - we KNOW that most of them will get abstract, critical thought by age 25, but that's some distance off, isn't it?

Doing the same thing in Texas - giving end of course exams in April, leaving kids (and me) to wonder: so why do we go to school in May and June? We did what you wanted and took your END OF COURSE exam.

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #1)

Sun Apr 14, 2013, 03:03 PM

2. Almost as if

they're setting kids, not to mention the teachers, up to fail, isn't it?

(Or, of course, in many cases, there's no "almost" about it.)

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #1)

Sun Apr 14, 2013, 03:06 PM

3. This infuriates me!

I attended NY public schools through high schoo, and had a fine education, including annual 'Regents' exams as FINALS in major high school courses, but THIS???

'Larry Larson, a Web developer with a fourth grader at Public School 58 in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, said he had started teaching his son concepts like long division. He said the new tests felt like someone “changing the rules of the road overnight.”

“From now on, everyone is going to be driving on the left side of the road,” he said. “In the morning, there are going to be a lot of accidents.”

Recently, administrators at Public School 94 in the Bronx invested in 300 protractors when they realized the tests might require them. “Now, we are teaching the kids how to use them,” the principal, Diane DaProcida, said.

To her students, Ms. DaProcida was sympathetic, but blunt. “To stay competitive in the global economy, you children need to be better prepared.”

Then she gave them a lesson in New York City bureaucracy. “This is going to take some time.”'

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Response to elleng (Reply #3)

Sun Apr 14, 2013, 03:11 PM

4. "YOU CHILDREN" just infuriates me. I HATE to be "you-peopled" and I have no reason to think kids

feel differently.

My granddaughter had a 5th grade teacher in the same district I teach in who told them, "If you fail the TAKS test, you will disgrace the school and your family." It took a year, but we got her out of a teaching position. Naturally, she failed upward, and has a position in HR downtown now.

Just loads and loads of people willing to put their big people boots on the necks of the smaller. I have ALWAYS thought it fortunate that I don't have the superpower to simply mute people permanently using my thoughts.

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Response to elleng (Reply #3)

Mon Apr 15, 2013, 09:56 PM

10. Yeah, well ...

It's such a political football, with politicians pandering to parent-voters, that there's no way it's going to get better. Power to change means power to take responsibility. As soon as it's no longer local control this is inevitable.

TX is a case in point. Two years ago we went to a 4x4 system. Four years of science, 4 years of math, 4 years of social studies, 4 years of English. It took effect last year.

For science you had to have biology, chemistry, physics. If you had "integrated physics and chemistry" it didn't get you over the chem-phys "hump." Seniors who thought they knew what they were going to take suddenly had to take physics. IPC didn't cut it.

They also started a system of rigorous end-of-course exams (EOCs), slowly increasing what the passing score was as schools geared up for them. Biology has geared up and revamped for the EOCs. Chemistry's just hitting its stride. Physics has been revising how it does things to handle the influx of non-academically high-achieving students and struggling to figure out how to handle the EOC next year (or this year, for some students). And scraping together every dime to buy lab equipment for the vastly expanded physics program.

Now they're talking about undoing all of that. What happens to the kids who are on the EOC plan if they back off of them?

Worse, there are scads of juniors and not a few sophomores now who have had some physics. Some of them failed physics in the fall, and can't go back to take IPC. They'd need to finish physics to get their necessary credit--IPC or physics. They need to take chemistry, as well.

Lose-lose. The only thing that's a given is that the parents will be held unaccountable for their kids; and the politicians will find a way to blame not the voter-parents but the administrators, who'll blame it on the teachers.

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #1)

Mon Apr 15, 2013, 08:28 AM

7. I'd rephrase that.

The "belief" in high-stakes testing didn't originate in education, but in politics. It's been a political mandate all along. Of course, now we've got an entire generation of parents, kids, and newer teachers who automatically equate education with tests.

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Response to LWolf (Reply #7)

Mon Apr 15, 2013, 07:20 PM

8. Yes, good distinction. Thanks. nt

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #1)

Mon Apr 15, 2013, 09:47 PM

9. Depends on grade level.

If you're in 3rd grade, then the stuff you learn in May counts towards what you'll be tested on next time 'round.

If you're in 9th grade, the only EOC you get in April is the ELA reading/writing. Now, I don't know why the reading ELA is included in this. But the field test my juniors took had 3 compositions, handwritten, and it's going to take some people time to read them.

The rest at my school are given 5/7, 8, 9. After that we have 3 weeks (possibly 4, I'm not sure what the EOC kids are doing when my juniors and seniors have dead days and finals).

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Sun Apr 14, 2013, 04:43 PM

5. "We don't know anything about how to teach or reading curriculum or any of that,"

 

Now a new generation of philanthropic billionaires, including Gates, homebuilding and insurance entrepreneur Eli Broad, members of the Walton family that founded Wal-Mart Stores, and former hedge fund manager Julian Robertson, want public education run more like a business. Charter schools, independent of local school districts and typically free of unionized teachers, are one of their favorite causes. "We don't know anything about how to teach or reading curriculum or any of that," Broad said last year at a public event in Manhattan. "But what we do know about is management and governance."


http://www.nbcnews.com/id/38282806#.UWsUX3y9KSN

This is where the Common Core standards come from.

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Sun Apr 14, 2013, 06:12 PM

6. Why in the world would parents allow their children to be put through this? It doesn't

do anything for the child. The parents should simply keep their children home on the days of the tests, and instruct the administrations that their children are not to be given make-up tests.

No harm no foul to the kids. One less data point in the effort to turn kids into cogs on an assembly line.

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