Wednesday, June 05, 2013

“You have to remember, white people are strange: They think hiking and camping are fun.”

Andrea Gabor:

Each of the tests for grades 6, 7 and 8 are completed in 90-minute segments over the course of three days. The seventh grade test, for example, is about 72 pages long (there are a few blank pages added for essay questions.) It includes 14 passages, the vast majority of which are one-to-two pages in length. There were also eight short-answer questions that require writing about one long paragraph each, as well as two essay questions. Then there were the endless multiple choice questions—over 100 of them, far more than the number on earlier test, according to education experts. (More on this later.)

Taken together, the 6 to 8 grade tests are weighted two-to-one in favor of non-fiction, far more than even the common core standards require for these grade levels. The common core calls for a 45/55 fiction-to-non-fiction ratio in the eighth grade. David Coleman and Susan Pimentel, lead authors of the common core, argue that this will not work against the teaching of literature because “the bulk” of the responsibility for nonfiction reading “will be carried by non-ELA disciplines” such as science and social studies. “Said plainly, stories, drama, poetry, and other literature account for the majority of reading that students will do…”

Even if you leave aside the small detail that only ELA teachers will be judged, VAMed and, perhaps, fired for poor performance based on the assessment, there is very little fiction or poetry in the NYS test.

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