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Chancellor Recommends Book to Calm Test Nerves

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - 01:52 PM

A book recommended by NYC chancellor that makes light of standardized testing (Walker & Company Publishing)

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.

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Comments [3]

Katie Lapham from Brooklyn

I wonder if Carmen Fariña has had the opportunity to review last year's Common Core state tests? These standardized tests have no validity and are meaningless with regards to providing an accurate measurement of students' academic progress. We haven't even seen the $75,000 2013 Technical Report produced by Pearson, which the NYSED was supposed to release in December 2013.
If I were chancellor, I'd recommend a title about civil disobedience - maybe one on Rosa Parks? - that shows a brave woman challenging an unjust law. I know Chancellor Fariña is in a tricky spot but I wish she had been real with us. I wish she had at least called for the lowering of stakes for students and educators alike. These state tests are tortuous, particularly for our youngest learners, and we all know they are bogus.

Feb. 27 2014 08:06 AM
Brooklyn Parent

Why doesn't WNYC help public school parents by doing more connecting the dots between high stakes testing and the school to prison pipeline, ALEC, etc.,

A lot of people are wondering if some of your "non profit" advertisers are influencing the angle on your stories.

WNYC should be on the cutting edge of the news, yet you persistently pursue a "false equivalency" angle on education stories.

Very disappointing.

Feb. 26 2014 02:46 PM
John from NY

It is too bad that in NYC those test scores are used for such high stakes activities like school placements. Does she even realize that? Why doesn't she help to fight having these tests in the first place instead of simply saying to parents and teachers and educators: "Get over it." The spring tests are nonsense and don't benefit one kid taking them. You don't see results for months and when they do arrive they are simply a score. Zero meaning and the next year teacher can't even make curricular adjustments to help the students. You don't know what was right and wrong on the tests. So let's not read a book and laugh about this. Let's get rid of them and redesign appropriate assessment instruments that will actually help teachers teach and students learn.

Feb. 26 2014 02:02 PM

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