Kevin Glynn, elementary teacher in Long Island, Néw York, analyzed the questions for third grade on the Common Core test using readability and found, to his surprise, that the language was far above the level they could understand.

“In English Language Arts tests, the grade level appropriateness of text used is a gray area. Some would argue that it is perfectly fine for third graders to be assessed using texts with readability levels of 5th and 6th graders. But even the champions of rigor must adhere to the golden rule of testing- the questions MUST be written on the grade level you are attempting to assess. It only makes sense. Students can’t answer questions that they do not understand. These tests are constructed for ALL students in a given grade level and therefore it is imperative that the questions are grade appropriate.

“As a former test developer for Pearson, PARCC, CTB, and NYSED we were never permitted to use words or vocabulary in questions that were too far above the grade level being tested (i.e. – 3rd grade questions were all constructed on grade 3 or 4). Again, the concept was simple- students cannot answer questions that they do not understand. After all, how much comprehension support is there in a test question?

“It is clear the Common Core state tests have no regard for the most widely understood testing principle- write questions that are on grade level. Look at these questions [open link to see them] from the Common Core NY state third grade ELA tests. They have questions that place 3,4, and 5 grade levels above the year being tested. Imagine giving 3rd graders 6th, 7th, and 8th grade level questions and thinking this is somehow the proper measure of their growth or their teacher’s instruction.”

Open the link to see questions that are far over the heads of third graders.