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Anti-Common Core Educator Discusses Inappropriate Test Questions on N.Y Tests

Anti-Common Core Educator Discusses Inappropriate Test Questions on N.Y Tests

Award-winning educator and out spoken opponent of the common core, Carol Burris discusses the poorly written questions found on leaked New York state exams.

According to Burris in an article in the New York Times, "Jeanette Deutermann, who started Long Island Opt Out, keeps meticulous account of the numbers of students by district who refuse the tests" and is reporting 81,931 test refusals on Long Island alone for the English Language Arts exam.

In other words, opt-out numbers in New York are historically high this year. "It appears that no more than seven of the 124 districts on the island will meet the testing threshold of 95 percent. And that is before this week’s math tests, when opt-out numbers are expected to climb, as they did last year," the article said.

Part of the reason why New York standardized tests are met with such resistance from educators and parents is because many find that the questions used to grade their children are poorly written and often times inappropriate across grade levels.

According to Burris, one educator "described the test as having readability levels far beyond what is appropriate, with questions that were 'vague, wordy, designed for trickery–not accurately measuring if children understand the texts they are reading.' She described the tests as far too long for her students to complete."

Burris gives an example of a passage from a confusing article on the test that has sparked debate. "The sixth-grade test has consistently come under fire, especially during Day 3 when an article entitled, 'Nimbus Clouds: Mysterious, Ephemeral, and Now Indoors from the Smithsonian Magazine appeared on one version of the test"

As a result, the location of the cloud is an important aspect, as it is the setting for his creation and part of the artwork. In his favorite piece, Nimbus D’Aspremont, the architecture of the D’Aspremont-Lynden Castle in Rekem, Belgium, plays a significant role in the feel of the picture. The contrast between the original castle and its former use as a military hospital and mental institution is still visible. You could say the spaces function as a plinth for the work. 

Burris went on to criticize the vocabulary used for certain grade levels throughout the test. "The eighth-grade test required 13-year-olds to read articles on playground safety. Vocabulary included: bowdlerized, habituation techniques, counterintuitive, orthodoxy, circuitous, risk averse culture, and litigious," she said, according to the article.

For the students that have not been pulled from New York's state exams, these test issues have been troublesome and supplement Burris' argument that the common core is more damning to students than helpful.

Read the full story here and comment below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

4/21/15

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