Amid weeks of brouhaha over the quality of the state exams and concerns about high-stakes testing, one important event almost slipped by: standardized testing is done for the 2011-2012 school year.
That means the test-prep and anxiety that often accompanies the exams are also over, and New York's public school students and teachers can now shift their focus elsewhere.
As the tests began, SchoolBook asked parents and teachers: “How are your children holding up during standardized testing?” Let's end a week of testing news with your voices.
Readers reported varying levels of test anxiety in their children or those they worked with. Syed Meer wrote:
I have two kids taking the ELA's: a fifth grader who thinks he is an old hand at it, and a third grader who is very nervous that she will have to redo third grade
While his children didn’t seem outwardly anxious, Mr. Meer added, “their personalities have become very brittle and insecure this month and their usual boisterousness very dampened.”
Other readers also seemed concerned about the impact of the testing on children. Britta Sorenson wrote:
I work with third graders. Two stopped and stared in a dead-panic for at least twenty minutes, hearts racing, freaking out over questions they weren't sure about.
Many students were worried about their scores, she said, including one who told her, “I can’t do it. I can’t do it. I don’t deserve to go to 4th grade anyway.” She added:
I remember feeling maybe 1/4 of this stress and panic when I had to take the SAT when I was 17. These kids are 7 and feel the weight of the rest of their lives on their shoulders while they take these tests.
SchoolBook's question wasn’t directed toward students, but they chimed in, too.
"Why not just ask us directly? I am 14, and am currently in the Eye of the Storm, between the ELAs and Math tests," Kelvin Song wrote on April 21. He criticized the test’s now-infamous “pineapple question”, a confusing passage about a hare and a talking pineapple that appeared on the eighth-grade English Language Arts exam. The state’s education commissioner, John B. King Jr., has said that the questions about the story will not be graded.
Another young reader, Sandra Raddis, wrote:
I'm 14 years old and in the 9th grade. My grade was the very first to begin to take these pain-in-the-butt tests in the 3rd grade. One of the things that has always seemed to stick with me about them was either my 3rd or 4th grade teacher telling me at the end of the year, when I inquired about a "Author's Fair" poster I saw her moving in her closet, 'I normally do an Author's Fair, but this year I had to do test prep instead.'
While many readers criticized the testing, one, Chris Moonie, was particularly outspoken.
Get rid of these meaningless tests, close all the government schools, and home school your kids. They will grow up healthy,happy, and successful. [sic] A childhood spent in a school is a very sad childhood indeed.
What do you think about testing as a measure of teacher effectiveness? Join the discussion.