Thursday, March 30, 2017

NY Educators Speak Out About NYS ELA Test

  • “All tests this morning were different forms within each classroom. This has not been the norm in previous years. The forms had a variety of different passages (with the remainder of the passages being the same for all). Level of passages varied.”

  • “Over 11 hours wasted on testing this week. The passages were ridiculous and hard, some words I had difficulties pronouncing and too many difficult vocabulary words that were way above 3rd grade.  After 3 and 1/2 hours testing each day, today my students completely broke down and started crying.  My kids were completely overwhelmed each day and now they are left disheartened and completely defeated.”

  • “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.”  [WHAT GRADE WAS THIS????]

  • So why does the 7th grade have 5 reading passages with just 35 total multiple choice questions today, but hammer the kids with most of the writing on day 3.  Poor design- spread out the writing.....esp the last day with fatigue.

  • Big problem with test ... State Ed did not bother to fully explain that there were different forms of test and for those students getting it read aloud, some proctors were reading aloud wrong questions.

  • All students who have the test read aloud accommodation were supposed to have the same form of the test this year. Districts had to pre-order them because each of these forms came shrink wrapped with an additional form for the teacher to read from.

  • 3rd graders given 4th grade CC test on computer

  • "I proctored the 4th grade test this morning. Here is a run down of the passages and levels I was able to find. Share, share, share!
Stunt Performers by tony hyland, 5.7
Ruby Goldberg's bright idea by Anna Humphrey, 5.30
Marshes and Swamps by Philip Johansson, 5.7
One day and one amazing morning on orange st. by Joanne rocklin, 5.4 (lexile 830L)
The passages were LONG."

  • “Almost every booklet was different.  Why would NYS do that the same year they start allowing test read mods to apply to the ELA?  Nowhere does it say test read has to be individually administered.  How can special education teachers read each child their different test?”

  • “There were 16 different versions of the 7th grade ELA and 16 different versions of the 8th grade ELA.”

  • "Well what I can say is it's difficult for an adult to take a test for that length of time, imagine how these kids feel. You can see it on their faces. I get sooo angry because these obnoxious tests are taking valuable class time away where they can actually learn rather than this waste of time.  I didn't look at the test because they put the fear of G*d in you, but every single student had a different test. I'm trying to find out if they at least had the same questions but in a different order.  If the test questions were different than that's a huge problem."

  • The term “isothiocyanate" appeared on day 1 of the NYS  8th grade ELA Exam.

  • "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.

  • Third grade test as of day 2.
    Day 1- the stories were not actually that bad and while many questions were difficult or confusing ( still too many in my opinion) I did see appropriate questions that were fair. So I thought ok- maybe they are making changes and a few tough or bad questions may be the determining factor to earn a 3 or a 4. Today I was hopeful when looking at the stories. Kids would be interested. One story was harder than the rest. However, the questions on multiple choice were very difficult requiring a lot of challenging inferences that were way too difficult for 8 and 9 year olds. For such a great story- the questions were awful! I could have come up with much better questions to ask my students. The essay also required a great deal of inferencing which proved to be very difficult for third graders. Very uninspiring test to say the least. Opt out!! As far as timing for third grade- day 1 some kids finished in about 1  1/2 hours while most too between 2 and 3+ hours. Today many are still not done at lunch and require a lot more time to complete it. This is absolutely abuse. And they still have another round tomorrow with 5 short answers and an essay.

  • NYS ELA Day 1
Why I support the "Opt Out" movement
Since becoming a parent, I've grown more cognizant of how my students react to the learning situations they face everyday. Today was no different but being the first day of the ELA state tests for my third graders, I was even more in tune to their emotions. This was a brand new experience for them. I know my students well, I know their mannerisms and what triggers them to excel or shut down. I strive to differentiate instruction everyday to grow all learners.
Today, after reading the directions, the mood in my classroom changed. Their eyes grew big when I recited the list of recording devices not allowed and after listing the "do nots", their worry set in.
Apparently there were several changes to the assessments this year: The tests are now untimed and there was one less question, making it shorter. Two great things- for the untrained eye. In the past, third graders had 70 minutes to complete each part and the majority of students complete the assessment in about 45 minutes.
It took some students over 3 hours to complete day 1. This was was infuriating. How on earth could students take 3 hours to complete a test if it was shortened? I watched panic set in on those students who were trying but lacked the focus to finish in a timely manner. These students needed constant redirection. A timed test provided a count down and time management. This free for all allowed students to suffer.
Perhaps the struggle was due to the challenging readability of the passages. The third grade passages seemed impossible from the start. I watched my students stare blankly at the first passage for uncomfortable lengths of time. When you have an excerpt from a chapter book, it's hard to get the gist without enough background. 2 of my struggling readers asked to have a word read to them. When I told them I couldn't help them, they shut down. I watched their faces fade from determination to degradation. Right there, these two learned they weren't going to be successful on this test. This was only passage 1. There were many more passages to go.
Another student shut down in the middle of reading the same passage. He was confused and unable to follow the story. I watched as he began fidgeting, tapping, rocking and crying. He was on the verge of a meltdown. It took him 2 hours to complete entire the assessment even with my encouragement and praises.
The readability of passage 2 was 4.9. I observed a student who reads at the first grade level chunk almost every word with his fingers. Good teaching tells us when a child reads like that, the text is too hard, that we shouldn't push a child to read when he lacks the strategies and tools to be successful. But today wasn't about being a good teacher. Today I was a good proctor.
As the assessment went on the readability actually leaned closer to third grader. But the students were already exhausted and beaten down by the onset of challenging passages and tricky vocabulary. It's only day 1.
Passage 2, a biography, had me curious about one particular paragraph that caught my eye. It seemed to target public education. It clearly stated the person referenced in the article went to public schools and claimed to not be "encouraged" by elementary teachers and until he went to a "selective high school". It was there his learning needs were met. Curious, I looked the passage up because I couldn't believe this was intended for third graders.

  • Today, I watched my students shut down in the first passage of a 3 day assessment. As a parent, I am angry that the parents were duped into believing everything has improved when in reality, the third grade test is worse. Your child's first exposure to high stakes testing should not wear a him down, make him cry or spend 2 plus hours to complete. Until the assessments are age and grade level appropriate, assess the standards taught and provide immediate results where teachers can consult the actual assessments to drive instruction, I will continue to support the opt out movement.

  • "My school did 3rd grade on the computer.  Kids tested all day.  Stopped for lunch and went back to continue.  At 3pm there were still a couple not done yet."

  • 3rd Grade: I was reading the test to my self-contained 8:1:1 class and recognized one of the passages with science content from a 6th grade Journey’s literature book.  

  • 3 grade teacher in NYC.  Yesterday the test had words on it like “astrophysicist" and "ukulele".   I don't know what educator would think these are appropriate words for a 8 year old.  Some Kids  tested from 8:30 to well after 12.  Again, what educator or parent can say children in 3,4,5 even 6 grade should sit for more than an hour on a test??????? Again many people are arguing it's a challenge and a good way to evaluate "comprehension" skills." Well as an educator comprehension is checked by retelling a story, finding the problem or solution or identifying the author's purpose.  These questions were unfair, showed no link to comprehension. Most questions truly could have been any answer and a student's guess was as good as mine. Today they read a passage on a tiger who was blind. If it is released, your hearts would break for these 8 year olds sitting trying to answer questions that were not in the passage.  I truly didn't even know what the answer was and all of the students including my brightest had different answers. This is a terrible way to torture children. Something must be done!!!!!!!!

  • The tests today are abusive. Over a dozen children in my school alone going back to take the test after lunch. These aren't children with disabilities.

  • Today is a complete disaster beyond my comprehension. Extreme inferencing well beyond their age level. Kids are definitely feeling it today. Begging for help and we were only on the first question.Stories range in difficulty level and the questions require so much inferencing. And the need for two details is so discouraging for third grade when there is really no second detail to explain it. I don't understand why an 8 year old needs two details!!! Especially for some questions. I don't understand why third graders (or any grade) are subjected to this insanity! Why is day one shorter for third grade but day two and three are just as hard and long? Why the need for 7 short answer and two full essays? Why do third graders have to answer two separate questions on essays??? This is their first experience taking a standardized exam and they are exhausted and broken!! This is child abuse. This is not good practice for future exams!! Parents that opt in really need to do more research. It was sickening to sit here. I really wanted to walk out and say I Refuse to administer them but then my kids need me.

  • I proctored the 5th grade. It was so labor intensive. I will never understand why the long response isn't done on the 1st day? So stupid


  1. In my school, some students figured out that they can blow off their regular classes by taking their time on the tests and stretching it out. Coincidentally, they all seemed to be finished around 1:00pm when it was time for lunch.

    One student came in at 11am. I asked her, are you just now getting to school? She said it's okay, the tests are untimed...

    Afternoon classes were a wreck, with some teachers still proctoring, subs had to cover their classes.

    I tried to conduct regular classes, but was interrupted by students coming in at all different times as they finished.

    Today (the day after the testing) students were whiny, asking if they could watch a movie (some teachers gave in, I hear). So it's hard to transition back to learning after three days of pointless, useless testing.

    My last story is about a student who I saw in the hall about 30 minutes after the tests began. He said he finished the test already, and "it was easy". I checked up with the teacher and he said the student never read anything, just filled out the bubbles and said he was finished. I can't wait for the "valuable data" to come back...

    This year we also had more students than ever asking their teacher if they could opt-out and how it was done. The teachers tell the students to have their parents talk to the principal with any questions, but some were under the impression you need a lawyer or that you can get left back, etc. Lots of misinformation going around...

  2. Commissioner Elia and NYSED should be ashamed of this and of saying teachers created these questions. It's time to start speaking truth. No way would I ever let my child take your terrible tests, nor would I ever administer any of these again! Child Abuse! BTW, I heard "YES" children did cry during the test. Check out Fred Smith's Mr. Smith speaks truth and BEWARE the NEXT FIELD TEST!

  3. Keep sharing and let Commissioner Elia know parents have the right to know they have a choice for their child to take the test or not.

  4. This opening paragraph of your blog is pure rubbish:

    "This is for every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality, and refuses to accept assessments, tests and evaluations imposed by those who have contempt for real teaching and learning."

    Please tell me that was not written by a teacher.

  5. The entry by the "3rd grade teacher in NYC" is shocking. It is hard to believe that this poorly written entry came from a teacher.

    1. I respect the difference between formal speech (and writing) and informal speech (and writing). Obviously, the teachers here are writing quickly with high emotion because they have just observed their young students being harmed. Are you denying their experience?


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