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NCLB Outrages

Students required to take 9 hours of English and math exams and state using dummy questions Parents fume that kids treated like guinea pigs Comments

Reader Comment:Well, they're really not being used as *** pigs. It's far worse than that. They're being used as widgets in the unabashedly corporate-governed model of "reform" offered as valid by billionaires and unqualified yet stupefyingly well-connected political appointees, and proffered to a confused, economically disadvantaged public by shill newspapers and shill electronic media owned by big, fat, wealthy publishers who are making a bloody fortune. And let us not forget mouthpieces like Klein, Rhee and Duncan, among others, whose souls have long been sold to the Devil himself. What a nice, neat little consortium they have, n'est-ce pas? It's gonna take a Messiah to bail us out of this vile conglomeration of unholy crapola. Anyhoo, once all but a handful of kiddies fail these useless, supremely boring, protracted, stupid, ambiguous, confounding and colossally expensive tests purchased by smarmy politicians from their cronies in the publishing industry, their scores will be used for the express purpose of the vilification and scapegoating of teachers, thus providing a false justification for the privatization of education in the State of New York and, ultimately, the USA as a soon-to-be-semi-literate whole. The other 49 states will haplessly fall into line, like lemmings. In this way, the 1% can add the Education Biz to its list of stuff we have to pay them through the nose for, while they enjoy tax breaks for their shenanigans. And only recently have parents begun to wake up and smell the toxic coffee. Perhaps this points to the existence of a God. I hope the whole friggin' country keeps their kids home from these tests rather than subject them to hours of torment for the intended benefit of those who don't know when rich enough is rich enough.I am beyond disgusted.

by Juan Gonzalez

Students will spend 270 minutes in English Language Arts assessment and 270 minutes on math exams, but some of the questions don't even count.

Those dreaded state tests are here again.

All third-to eighth-graders in New York began Tuesday the first of three consecutive days of English Language Arts assessment, to be followed next week by three days of math tests.

And those state tests have never been longer.

A typical third-grader last year spent 150 minutes over three days taking the ELA test and 100 minutes over two days on the Math exam.

This year, all students will spend 270 minutes in the ELA exam and 270 minutes in the Math test â 90 minutes over each of six days.

The stakes also have never been higher, not for the pupils who take the tests or the teachers whose evaluations will be based on their studentsâ performance or the schools that could face closure if pupil scores drop.

Yet fewer of the answers public school children give this year on those tests will actually count toward their final score.

State education officials and their private testing firm, Pearson, have tossed in a large number of âfield testâ questions for the first time - questions that donât count in the score but make it easier to design future tests.

Ken Slentz, the stateâs deputy commissioner of elementary education, declined to say exactly what portion of the tests consist of such dummy questions. Many states have been using field questions for years, Slentz noted.

But retired New York City test analyst Fred Smith claims as many as a third of the questions on this yearâs tests will not count.

Smith, a critic of high-stakes tests, has spent months analyzing the stateâs testing protocols, poring over its original guidelines for testing companies, and comparing how other big states handle field testing.

âNew York went overboard in the wrong direction,â he said. âThey have a far higher percentage of field questions than other states and fewer questions that count. They are stretching students too far.â

Slentz denies thereâs a problem. Officials have allotted more time this year for students to answer questions, so they should feel less pressure, he said.

A growing number of parents, however, are fed up with all the emphasis from Albany and the Bloomberg administration on these standardized tests.

Many middle class families now spend thousands of dollars for tutors to prepare their children for these tests. Meanwhile, many poor and minority families who canât afford tutors see their children fall farther behind.

Brooklyn parent Janine Sopp and others who belong to a new group called Change the Stakes are keeping their children out of school during the test days in protest.

âIâm especially offended that they want to use the free labor of my 8-year-old to develop their tests,â Sopp said.

Their group is pressing for a state law to allow parents to opt out of such tests. They say high-stake test mania is distorting school curriculums and hurting real education.

âThere really is not opt-out provision in New York,â Slentz warned, â(and) parents should be aware there could be negative repercussions on the school when that happens.â

CUNY graduate school psychology professor Michelle Fine recently started an online petition against high-stakes tests. Fine says those tests, by determining admission to so many selective public schools, are only exacerbating racial inequities in education. More than 500 university professors around the state have signed on in just a few days.

Over the next two weeks, every public school parent should ask the big questions those high-stakes test proponents dare not face.


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— Juan Gonzalez
New York Daily News


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