Wednesday, April 28, 2010

ELA Exam... a review

So the annual New York State ELA exam has come and gone, and I'm fairly confident the students walked away with a feeling of success. After looking over the test, and hearing feedback from students, I am confident that we covered the necessary material for them to "pass" the test.

However, it's the notion of "passing" that is the center of the post. A colleague of mine told me today that in order to score at least a "2" on the test, students only had to answer seven questions out of 39 correct on the sixth grade test. Is this an indicator of how low our standards have become? Since when is scoring less than 20 percent on an examination considering passable? The state should be ashamed of itself if this prediction of scoriong proves true.

For the alst few weeks, my students and I have been learning test prep stategies to help them on the exam. For me, this involved reviewing grammar, word use, and parts of speech (topics that are typically left out of the stardard curriculum in New York City). As I proctored the test, I noticed something... my students not only filled all of the available space writing their essays but they had to use the extra blank page in the back of the book. I was elated.

But I still wonder, are these non-uniform tests really proving growth, or are the tests being dumbed down each year to show "growth" when really the students haven't mastered anything new?

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