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New York State: Release the tests!

May 4, 2012 am31 7:37 am

New York State contracted with Pearson to produce what now appear to be flawed tests. The problem starts before that:  New York State, not a for-profit company, should be writing the tests (if we really need them at all), and the tests should be written for the students of NY State, not in order to make a fast buck.

But now we all know about the pineapple race. And have heard that there were other problems.

And today I have a new one. But I can’t share it with you. I don’t know exactly what it is. But on the 7th grade math test, Pearson asked a question that’s not a 7th grade math question in New York State. It’s not a k – 6 math question either.

Apparently it involves angles inside a parallelogram, or angles formed when a third line crosses two parallel lines. How hard are parallelogram questions? Not so hard. If you have studied them. But NY State puts out a very specific roadmap of stuff to teach. Grade by grade. And there’s so much in there, most schools stick pretty close to it, so that the kids will be familiar with everything on the test. Extra topics that are due to be taught in 8th grade or 9th grade? 7th grade teachers are unlikely to add future topics, as they scramble to get through the too many topics NYS has placed in 7th grade.

How do I know this much?  Look at this discussion. You’ll know too.

And I don’t know more than that.

The test is secure. The State and its vendor try to keep people from discussing it. They say they want to reuse questions. And clearly, that is Pearson’s habit (our unlucky pineapple has already visited a half-dozen states).

But “test security” prevents the public from discussing the dreck New York State pays for. And that’s wrong. If the tests were wonderful (if we really needed so many, or any, tests) and they were secure, that would be one thing. But today “security” allows the State and the vendor to hide their shameful product from the residents of NY, while victimizing the children.

The contract with Pearson should be terminated.  NYS should reassess how many, if any, tests should be given – and should write any tests itself.

And the current tests should be immediately released. The public should see. The public should know.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. shulmandl permalink
    May 4, 2012 am31 9:30 am 9:30 am

    The media is reporting a question involving the perimeter of something akin to a trapezoid.

    See the Valerie Strauss column in the Wash Post guested by a former NYCDOE metrics man–name of Fred ?? The numbers he reports of not-to-be counted experimental items is disturbing.

    I still remember the time in third grade when I was stumped on a question and spent the remaining time trying to solve it. Luckily the teachers and school leaders were unconstrained then, and had professional alternatives.

    The testing companies develop questions by confusing the kids taking real high stakes tests, the taxpayers PAY them for this, and they can’t even get the stuff properly proofed, printed, distributed, and keyed!

    Bring back the NY state wide test creation committees and through these bums out!

  2. Stephen Lazar permalink
    May 4, 2012 pm31 1:16 pm 1:16 pm

    My first thought on reading this, was a resounding “hell yeah,” and I starting writing a post articulating that. But then I started thinking…

    How do we make the argument for transparency here, but not with TDRs?

    I know there’s an answer to that question, but can’t figure it out yet. Hoping you or someone else can.

    • Kevin Jacobs permalink
      May 4, 2012 pm31 11:14 pm 11:14 pm

      The TDR parallel would be to release the scores of the children. In this case the call for transparency and the accompanying demand to (re-?) examine the test questions, their sequence, and even their rationale, is parallel to the critique of the city’s and state’s methodology in deriving Value Added scores using flawed data from tests that were not designed to evaluate teachers or provide Value Added scores.
      I am glad to hear more teachers, principals, and parents speaking out so forcefully and eloquently against this year’s tests and against high stakes testing generally. If “accountability” is the watch word of the so-called reformers, then let’s see them apply it to Pearson, the Regents, and the SED. They should be ashamed to defend such obviously inferior work.

  3. Anonymous permalink
    May 5, 2012 pm31 12:45 pm 12:45 pm

    There were embedded field test questions in the state tests this year. That parallelogram question was most likely one of those and won’t count in the score.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    April 24, 2013 pm30 5:53 pm 5:53 pm

    I agree with u! It is totally not fair! This gets looked at by the high schools and I can’t afford to fail!

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