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Education officials plan 4-hour state reading exams for 3rd through 8th grade students Critics say length of two-day tests excessive


Reader Comment: Children are being used as guinea pigs to test new items.

By Ben Chapman

Teachers and parents criticized the state's plan to extend reading tests for students in grades 3 to 8 as excessive.

A plan to nearly double the length of state reading exams to more than four hours over back-to-back days was flunked Monday by critics who called the extended tests for grades 3 to 8 excessive.

State Education officials are expanding mandatory reading exams that students across the state take each spring, according to documents posted on a state website Monday.

Third graders would spend 245 minutes on a reading test given over two consecutive days in April 2012 â up from 150 minutes over two days last year. Other grades will see similar gains.

Teachers and parents slammed the stateâs new, super-sized testing schedule.

âItâs insane to make third graders sit still and take a test for that long,â said Lisa North, a reading teacher at Public School 8 in Brooklyn who administers the tests.

âThereâs no way the kids can focus for that long,â said North, who added that many of her students struggled with the shorter version of the test last year.

School leaders and district superintendents were notified of the stateâs intention to expand the tests in an email memo Monday.

The memo said the longer tests will cover more ground and contain more questions, including unscored questions that might be included in future tests.

But spokesman Dennis Tompkins backed away from the specifics outlined in the letter, saying that it had not been approved by Education Commissioner John King, even though it was sent to every principal in the state.

âThe test specifications were e-mailed and posted in error. They were not given a final review,â said Tompkins.

An updated version of the letter will be distributed today, said Tompkins.

State reading and math tests have undergone a series of changes since 2010, when officials first lengthened the exams to include a wider variety of material.

In 2011, the Regents raised the bar on the exams by requiring a greater percentage of correct answers for students to be deemed proficient.

This year the tests will contain additional multiple-choice pilot questions that wonât be scored, according to the memo.

City education officials are currently reviewing the stateâs changes to the testing schedule, said agency spokesman Matthew Mittenthal.

bchapman@nydailynews.com

New York Daily News

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