Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sorry Kid, But the Plan for Your Next Eight Years is Ever Harder Versions of the Same Questions

Liz Phillips:

Although the passages were reasonable,both in terms of reading and interest level, the multiple choice questions on day one and two were very problematic and did not really test higher level reading comprehension. There was a huge emphasis on details from specific paragraphs. Although it seems legitimate to have some such questions, there were too many. One of the impacts of this is that even excellent readers (myself included) had to reread many times to answer all the questions. For children that meant that many (particularly in fifth grade) were not able to finish or had to rush at the end. In too many cases, there were at least two answers (or in one case none) that appeared to be correct. There were also too many questions (both short response and multiple choice) about structure rather then about meaning of the passage. There is something wrong with a test when a highly literate adult reader can carefully read a passage and not answer a single question without rereading. I think think there are huge negative implications for this for schools who teach to the test. We need our students to "get" the big idea of what they read, as well as to focus on details, but this test suggests that teaching should just be about focusing on details.

This is exactly what a close reading of the standards -- but not all the surrounding commentary -- would have predicted.

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