Posts tagged "common core"
May 17, 2013
Distressed by state tests that they say did not reflect the way they want students to learn, several city principals are pledging not to use the scores to help them pick their students.
Selective middle schools consider students’ fourth-grade reading and math scores, and selective high schools look at students’ seventh-grade scores.
But after the first round of state tests tied to new standards known as the Common Core, about a dozen principals have announced — in an open letter to parents, students, educators, and others with an interest in education — that they are abandoning the use of test scores in admission, at least for now.
“We welcome rigor, high standards and accountability, but demand that these three crucial words and concepts not be thrown around loosely; and, even more importantly, we demand that they be implemented in a proper, respectful and effective way,” write the principals, who come from a range of selective schools in three boroughs. ”Therefore, we cannot grant these recent tests the value others claim they have until [our] concerns are addressed.” (more…)
April 30, 2013
Wading in to the growing backlash against the Common Core standards today, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten called for a moratorium on using scores tied to the new standards to make important decisions.
Weingarten made the proposal in a speech before business and civic leaders at the Association for a Better New York, days after students across the state completed tests aligned to the Common Core for the first time and months after local union leaders began sounding the alarm about the state’s Common Core rollout.
She praised the learning standards and said she did not oppose testing students on them. But she said a “failure of leadership” and a “broken accountability system” could derail the Common Core’s chances of boosting student achievement in New York and beyond.
States and districts frequently use test scores to decide which schools to close and students to retain. Increasingly, they are also using test scores to measure teachers’ performance, a policy shift that Weingarten has supported but many of her members have not. Waiting at least a year before acting on the scores of Common Core-aligned tests would give students and teachers the chance to adjust to the higher standards and let states and districts assess whether the tests are yielding meaningful results, Weingarten said.
“That’s what assessment and accountability are supposed to be,” she said. “You see if the whole shebang works, before you say it’s ready for prime time.” (more…)
April 30, 2013
After dropping hints in interviews and public appearances for weeks, AFT President Randi Weingarten is formally weighing in on the backlash to the Common Core standards today by calling for a moratorium on consequences attached to Common Core test scores.
Weingarten is making the proposal right now in a speech to business and civic leaders at the Association for a Better New York, a pit stop for public figures with new ideas to float. Among the high-profile audience members is state Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, who helped steer New York’s adoption of the tougher standards and has defended the state’s decision to test students on the standards before teachers had curriculum materials aligned to them.
Weingarten is expressly saying that she is not opposed to testing students on the new standards, which emphasize critical thinking and problem solving skills. She just doesn’t want states or districts to judge schools, teachers, or students according to the test scores.
“When states and districts get the alignment right — moving from standards to curriculum to classrooms to feedback and improvement — student success will follow,” Weingarten is saying, according to her prepared comments. “But until then, a moratorium on stakes is the only sensible course.”
The full text of the speech is below, and we’ll have more complete coverage, including reactions from Tisch and others, later today. (more…)
April 24, 2013
All’s quiet on the Common Core math test front, for now.
After last week’s state reading tests drew sharp criticism, anxiety ran high as students headed into the first of three days of math testing today. But educators are saying the first day was uneventful — and possibly even easier than they expected.
“There was a little bit of a sigh of relief when they started going through the test,” David Baiz, who teaches at Global Technology Preparatory Middle School, said of his eighth-grade students. “They felt like they were capable of doing it.”
Jose Vilson, who teaches at I.S. 52 in Washington Heights, tweeted just after the exam, ”My kids found the test pretty easy, and this time, I trust it.” (more…)
April 22, 2013
ALBANY — State education officials expressed doubt today about whether the testing firm Pearson, which has several contracts in New York, can handle its expanding workload.
“Obviously, the public is starting to question, I think, very aggressively with us whether or not they’re able to manage all of the things they’ve taken on,” New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said of Pearson, whose subsidiary testing company NCS Pearson, Inc. has a five-year, $32 million contract to create tests for the state.
Tisch, who has criticized the testing company before, was responding to Pearson’s latest misstep in test administration. On Friday, the New York City Department of Education said nearly 5,000 students were told they were ineligible for the city’s Gifted & Talented programs when they actually should have made the cut. Three separate errors took place during test grading, which Pearson oversaw, department and company officials both said. (more…)
April 19, 2013
Principal Ramon Gonzalez has been a principal for ten years, but this week, he said, he’s experienced a lot of firsts.
“I’ve had my first experience of students vomiting on a test. After we cleaned off the test, we had to call testing security to make sure it was still valid,” he said. “I have to tell you, I was happy to submit that test to the testing authorities.” (more…)
April 17, 2013
If students post low scores on the sections of the state reading test administered today, it might be in part because many could not finish in the allotted time.
According to teachers who proctored today’s English language arts exams, the time allowed — 70 minutes in third and fourth grades and 90 minutes in fifth through eighth grades – simply wasn’t enough for many students, especially given the critical thinking that the tests required. The year’s tests are the first to be tied to tougher new standards known as the Common Core, and today’s sections were the first to include essays. (Tuesday’s test section was all multiple-choice.)
“When such a great increase in complexity — of questions and texts — is being implemented for the first time, AND we are tying results to students’ permission to graduate — 90 minute is IN NO WAY sufficient,” wrote Michele Hamilton, an eighth-grade teacher in the Bronx, in a comment on GothamSchools. “Today was a very hurtful experience for many of my students.” (more…)
April 16, 2013
As the first day of this year’s state testing period came to a close this afternoon, teachers from across the city took to Twitter to share their takes on whether the exam is shaping up to be as tough as officials have warned.
State education officials caution that discussing the contents of the tests, the first to be tied to the new Common Core standards, could be grounds for termination for teachers. But teachers offered a thorough review without getting into specifics. Many said students struggled to complete the reading test in the allotted time. Others, in multiple grades, said some questions seemed to have multiple correct answers.
Valerie Leak tweeted, ”7th[-grade] texts were manageable but Qs were v difficult. kids left guessing w 5 min left. Close reading required w not enough time.”
“Close reading” is a skill that the Common Core emphasizes, and students across the city have been practicing with it all year. But Binh Thai, an eighth-grade English teacher at University Neighborhood Middle School on the Lower East Side, told GothamSchools that the technique and others that the Common Core calls for worked against some students today. (more…)
April 15, 2013
A small coterie of parents who oppose high-stakes testing expect to gain a little traction across the city as elementary and middle school students prepare to take state tests tomorrow — tests that city and state officials have warned for months are likely to result in plummeting scores.
Six parents who said they were representing parents from 33 schools across the city gathered in a small office in the Upper West Side’s Bloomingdale Family Program preschool today to announce a boycott of Tuesday’s tests, the first to be tied to new standards known as the Common Core.
“We are fed up with the efforts that go into test preparation,” said Cynthia Copeland, the parent of a fourth-grader at a Lower East Side school.
“I have a sixth grader who’s passionate about math and language arts and it’s killing his passion,” said Evelyn Cruz, a parent from an East Harlem school. She said her son has a 97 average in math and does well on standardized tests, but the testing environment is causing him stress and making him less enthusiastic about school. (more…)
April 15, 2013
The latest addition to the city’s public relations offensive about the year’s tougher-than-usual state tests is $240,000 in subway, ferry, and newspaper advertisements.
Chancellor Dennis Walcott and his deputies have used a variety of avenues to get out the message about the harder tests in recent weeks, visiting schools, editorial boards and, yesterday, a high-profile church. They have said repeatedly that they expect more students to receive low scores but that they will not penalize students or schools just because the state is raising its standards.
But that hasn’t calmed all fears, and Walcott said he hopes that the ad campaign reaches those who haven’t gotten the message yet. (more…)