Dear Commons Community,
Students all over New York State have been prepping for the past week for new standardized tests that they will be taking starting tomorrow. As described in a New York Times article:
“At Public School 10 on the edge of Park Slope, Brooklyn, parents begged the principal to postpone the lower school science fair, insisting it was going to add too much pressure while they were preparing their children for the coming state tests.
On Staten Island, a community meeting devolved into a series of student stress stories, with one parent recounting how his son had woken up from a bad dream, mumbling that he had forgotten to fill in a bubble answer.
And at Public School 24 in the Riverdale neighborhood in the Bronx, a fifth-grade teacher, Walter Rendon, has found himself soothing tense 10- and 11-year-olds as they pore over test prep exercises. “Sometimes, I say: ‘Just breathe.’ ”
New York public school students and parents are, by now, accustomed to standardized tests. But a pall has settled over classrooms across the state because this year’s tests, which begin Tuesday, are unlike any exams the students have seen. They have been redesigned and are tougher. And they are likely to cover at least some material that has yet to make its way into the curriculum.
The new tests, given to third through eighth graders, are intended to align with Common Core standards, a set of unified academic guidelines adopted by almost every state and goaded by grant money offered by the Obama administration. They set more rigorous classroom goals for American students, with a focus on critical thinking skills, abstract reasoning in math and reading comprehension.
New York is one of only a few states that have developed new tests to match the Common Core. Last year, Kentucky became the first to administer Common Core aligned tests and scores there plummeted, adding to the concern in New York.
When students sharpen their No. 2 pencils on Tuesday, they will find English tests that include more writing and more challenging reading excerpts, many of them culled from classical literature, or nonfiction sources. They will be asked to “marshal evidence” for thoughtful, sometimes lengthy answers, and analyze paired excerpts. In math, though there will be fewer topics, the test will include more complex equations, multistep word problems, and written responses.”
Test! Test! Test!