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Long Island Principal 'Horrified' by Quality of State Exams

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 - 06:13 PM

Days after a Brooklyn principal's letter to New York State's education commissioner gained wide publicity for its protest of the quality of this year's new state standardized exams, another principal has written to the commissioner to complain about the tests.

This time the letter comes from Sharon Emick Fougner, principal of Elizabeth Mellick Baker Elementary School in Great Neck, Long Island, who urged the commissioner, John B. King Jr., to conduct a review of the math exams that were given to fourth to eighth graders last month.

She wrote that she was "quite honestly horrified by the content, format, language and presentation of this year's exams."

The tests for English language arts and math, administered during April, have been riddled with problems. Some parents have opted out of the test, and teachers and principals have criticized the questions.

Various questions have already been tossed out by the state.

The exams are new this year and were produced by the Pearson testing company under a five-year, $32 million contract. They are not being publicly released, ostensibly to prevent teachers and tutors from teaching to the new test.

Ms. Fougner explained why she wrote to the commissioner: "I really feel at this point that we are waging a war for the hearts and minds of our children. My obligation as a principal of a school and as an educator is to advocate first and foremost for children. I can't watch what's happening to our children without speaking out against it."

Ms. Fougner said she hoped her letter "will help the State Education Department to design tests that are more effective and productive for children and more appropriate for them." State Education Department officials have not yet responded to the letter.

Here is the letter, reprinted with permission from Ms. Fougner:



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