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Are Children Learning
Going beyond the acronyms to explain how state exams are changing.
August 7, 2013
Weingarten warns other states about N.Y. test scores
Weingarten used New York State’s new test scores, the first to reflect student performance on exams tied to the Common Core learning standards, as a…
July 19, 2013
Video: One family’s place in the push against “high-stakes testing”
When state test scores come out in the next couple of weeks, one student who won’t count in the city’s averages is Matthew Sprowal. Encouraged by his mother Karen Sprowal, Matthew did not take the state tests, the first to be tied to new learning standards known as the Common Core, out of protest. Nathan Place, a student at CUNY’s journalism school, filed this video report about the family and the movement against “high-stakes testing.” Writes Place: Matthew, 10, was the one student at his school who “opted out” of the test. His mother, Karen Sprowal, told the school’s principal that he would be refusing the test as an act of protest, and while the rest of Matthew’s fourth-grade class took the tests, he sat in another classroom and read quietly.
June 18, 2013
State ed department highlights Common Core changes in new video
The State Education Department is hoping to end the year on a positive note with a new video that extols the Common Core standards. In…
April 24, 2013
First day of state Common Core math tests a relief, teachers say
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."
April 10, 2013
Our Common Core math discussion, as chronicled on Twitter
"Wish I'd had math teachers like this when I was in high school!" That's what New America NYC tweeted during "Adding It Up," the panel discussion about the Common Core standards in math that GothamSchools hosted Tuesday evening with New America NYC. About 80 people joined us to hear three city math teachers — Joe Negron from KIPP Infinity Middle School, Bushra Makiya from I.S. 303 in the Bronx, and Jose Vilson from I.S. 52 in Washington Heights — talk about the opportunities, challenges, and unanswered questions in their transition to the new Common Core standards. We'll have a complete video of the event and some additional highlights later in the week. For now, we've used Storify to collect the many tweets about the discussion posted before, during, and after the event.
November 27, 2012
Video: Teachers show off student work aligned to Common Core
Work of Art: NYC teachers show off student work aligned to new learning standards Instead of drawings, paintings or sculptures, GothamSchools' makeshift art gallery Monday night featured student essays about wolves, personal conflict, and classic fiction dotted the walls. Middle and high school teachers from across the city brought the work to the Upper East Side to put on display during "The Art of Teaching and Learning to the Common Core," an event we held with the support of Teaching Matters and Azure.
July 10, 2008
Do better readers do better on tests of reading?
Yesterday, I took an initial look at the Manhattan Institute's study, "Building on the Basics." Today, I want to look at Florida's state science exam, the focus of the study. A common criticism of standardized tests is that they all, to some degree, test reading ability. What does the Science FCAT look like? What skills would you need to perform well on it? I've only seen the NYS Science exams, so I decided to download a Florida sample test and take a look. The first thing that surprised me about this test was the reading level, which seemed high. Many of New York City's fifth graders would (for better or for worse) stumble over sentences like, "Florida has many limestone caves containing formations called stalactites." I tracked down a site of readability analyzers and entered text from test items. Question 1: Melissa’s school rings a bell to alert students that it is time to start class. When the bell rings, it vibrates. The use of vibrations to send messages is an example of which type of energy? This one ranged from 4.72 to 10.07 in estimated US grade level required to understand it, which certainly calls into question the reliability of the readability analyzers, but also the ability of average 5th graders to understand this question.
June 23, 2008
NYC students post double-digit test gains; statisticians are dubious
No one was surprised when Chancellor Klein announced today that the city's students posted dramatic gains on state test scores this year. Charting a clear trajectory of improvement has been fundamental to his reforms. This year, he announced, nearly 80 percent of 4th graders and 60 percent of 8th graders passed the state math test, and about 60 percent of 4th graders and 40 percent of 8th graders passed the state English test. Gains in the last six years, the DOE points out in its press release, range from about 15 points in 8th grade English to more than 30 points on math tests at all levels. Even before the mayor made his announcement this afternoon, discussion had begun over whether this year's test scores are a sign of victory, as the mayor believes, or of score inflation and manipulation. In today's Sun, Elizabeth Green speaks to statisticians who warn that, for many reasons, large-scale score increases are not always to be believed.
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