Chancellor Recommends Book to Calm Test Nerves

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As city teachers prepare for the second year of more difficult state exams, Chancellor Carmen Fariña urged them to lighten up a little.

In her weekly email to principals, the chancellor acknowledged teachers and families might be stressed about the state assessments in April. Her advice? 

"A good way to ease these concerns, especially for younger students, is to share Judith Finchler’s book, Testing Miss Malarkey (Walker Children, reprint 2003), which offers a humorous take on the world of standardized testing. While standardized tests are a reality of public school life, we must remember that our driving focus is on teaching and learning."

Finchler's book features the Miss Malarkey character "acting a little weird." She is focused on The TEST, also known as the Instructional Performance Through Understanding (I.P.T.U.) test.

The School Library Journal said the picture book mocking the current testing culture "will either touch a funny bone or a nerve."

The chancellor didn't say which one she was aiming for in her email.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he wants to put less focus on test scores in the city's annual school report cards. Joking about the testing culture may be the first step in that direction.