PS 321 Students, Parents & Teachers Protest Common Core Testing

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PS 321 protest by Olga Garcia-Kaplan on Twitter

Parents and students around the neighborhood, and the state, are dealing with another year of Common Core testing, with the English Language Arts exam having just been completed yesterday. And while the test developers claim these exams cover skills and knowledge that are “designed to prepare students for life outside the classroom,” many parents disagree, having their children opt out of the tests.

And this week, one local principal is voicing her displeasure, as well. PS 321 (180 7th Ave) principal Liz Phillips sent out this note last night:

PS 321 PARENTS–Our 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders have just completed three days of the New York State English Language Arts Exam. Your children were wonderful and worked incredibly hard. On the whole, we think that we were able to protect them from the worst stresses of the test, and most seemed fine during most of the exam. However, the teachers and administration are truly devastated by what a terrible test it was and how little it will tell us about our students.

Because we are bound by test security, we cannot reveal details but we can tell you that we have never seen an ELA exam that does a worse job of testing reading comprehension. There was inappropriate content, many highly ambiguous questions, and a focus on structure rather than meaning of passages. Our teachers and administrators feel that this test is an insult to the profession of teaching and that students’ scores on it will not correlate with their reading ability. Because of this, the staff has decided to hold a protest outside of school TOMORROW, FRIDAY, APRIL 4, FROM 8:15-8:35 to express their extreme dissatisfaction with the ELA exam. Parents are invited to join the staff before going into classrooms for Family Friday.

Parents, students, teachers, and Principal Phillips gathered outside the school this morning to protest.

The New York State Department of Education is defending the tests, saying they’re created by teachers and tested before going out to schools statewide.

“The ELA assessments were developed, reviewed and edited by New York State teachers and then field tested with all students across the state,” a spokesperson for the Department of Education told NY1. “The tests measure the state’s ELA learning standards for reading and writing and use passages from grade appropriate fiction and nonfiction.”

What do you think? If your child took the ELA this week, what was their response to it? Do they, and you, think it’s a good tool for evaluation, or a waste of classroom time?

Top photo by Olga Garcia-Kaplan

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