Beth Fertig is WNYC’s Contributing Editor for Education. She previously covered politics, which included City Hall during the Giuliani administration, and the U.S. Senate campaigns of Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton. She also covered transportation and infrastructure.
Test Prep Questions Raise Concerns On Eve of Math Tests
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - 04:00 AM
Standardized tests have become easy targets for complaints and ridicule, and not just from the students who have to take them. Comedian Louis C.K. got in on the act this week, venting on Twitter about his third grade daughter's test prep questions.
"My kids used to love math. Now it makes them cry," he wrote. "Thanks standardized testing and Common Core!"
(The state teachers union, which has also criticized the new tests, made a compilation of his tweets.)
Both testing and classwork are changing because of the state's new Common Core standards, and the comedian isn't the only city parent who's baffled by the new math. Outside P.S. 261 in Brooklyn's Boerum Hill neighborhood, Anita Pettway said she's confused by her fourth-grade son's homework.
"I mean, it is something different for them because it’s like it’s geometry, and that’s something they usually get by eighth grade," she said. When asked if she's able to help him she laughed, and said she gives that job over to someone else.
"I have older daughters that just graduated from college, so basically they know that stuff already," she said.
Dylan Foley, whose twin daughters are in fifth grade, said he was thinking of opting out of the math tests. Like Louis C.K., he wasn't happy with the test prep questions.
"The questions had to be read three or four times to make sense."
Nine year-old Dexter Wells agreed the questions weren't well written.
"Sometimes they don't make the question clear or give enough information to do the question," he said.
Meanwhile, the state education department said it wasn't responsible for the test prep questions Louis C.K. photographed and shared on his Twitter feed.
"The passages that he references are not our material," said spokesman Tom Dunn.