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Letters: School tests have many mistakes

Standardized test.

Standardized test. Photo Credit: Istock

I thought I had seen the worst test publishers could come up with in my years administering state reading and math tests to elementary school students, but with this year's fifth-grade English Language Arts test, the publisher has achieved a new low ["Mistakes in NY tests," News, April 25].

The essay question bore only a glancing resemblance to the reading passages it was supposedly based on. One passage is about kids on a team who know they are going to lose the game they are about to play. The question discusses characters who have lost a game -- but in the passage, they hadn't played yet.

In fairness, the passages did not lend themselves easily to an essay question. A nuanced question could perhaps have been written, or the publishers could have thrown out the items and started over.

Instead, they and the school administrators subjected thousands of fifth-graders across New York to a sloppy, pointless essay question. Scores on this ELA test will be analyzed; students, teachers and schools will be judged against them. Will anyone ask what exactly was on the test?

It has become clear that the more time and energy are spent on testing and test prep, the less actual teaching and learning take place.

Matt Frisch, Bayside

Editor's note: The writer is a New York City schoolteacher.


Recently, it was the "talking pineapple" disaster on the eighth-grade English Language Arts assessment ["Lesson No. 1: Don't bet on the pineapple!" Opinion, April 25]. Last week, the mathematics assessments got their turn to demonstrate the incompetence of the test developers.

One multiple-choice question on the fourth-grade exam provides two correct answers. Another multiple-choice question, on the eighth-grade assessment, does not list any correct responses.

Clearly, something is amiss. Maybe we should cancel the $32-million check to the test developers and fire the individuals in the state Education Department who approved the tests? Better yet, how about putting a stake in the heart of high-stakes testing?

Michael Cohen, Brightwaters

Editor's note: The writer is an adjunct associate professor of mathematics at Hofstra University.


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