Parents and teachers in New York are angry bout the state tests. There are protests and demonstrations taking place outside many schools. Last year, when the state gave the first Common Core tests, the scores plummeted. Only 31% of the students in grades 3-8 passed because the passing mark was set artificially high by State Commissioner John King, who sends how own children to a private Montessori school that does not take the Common Core tests.

Why the outrage?

Liz Phillips, principal of PS 321 in Brooklyn, explains in this article. She can’t describe the questions because she is under a gag order imposed by the state and test maker Pearson. Neither she nor the teachers understand why the tests lasted more than three hours.

Not allowed to discuss the content of the test, she writes:

“In general terms, the tests were confusing, developmentally inappropriate and not well aligned with the Common Core standards. The questions were focused on small details in the passages, rather than on overall comprehension, and many were ambiguous. Children as young as 8 were asked several questions that required rereading four different paragraphs and then deciding which one of those paragraphs best connected to a fifth paragraph. There was a strong emphasis on questions addressing the structure rather than the meaning of the texts. There was also a striking lack of passages with an urban setting. And the tests were too long; none of us can figure out why we need to test for three days to determine how well a child reads and writes.”

Teachers, principals, and schools will be evaluated based on these flawed tests.

Next year, New York will very likely use the PARCC tests, the federally funded tests given online. What a bonanza for the tech industry!

There ought to be a law: every member of the New York Board of Regents, the Governor, and every legislator should take the eighth grade tests and publish their scores. If they don’t pass, they resign.