Thanks to Kevin Glynn of Lace to the Top for sharing this excellent analysis.
From Lucy Calkins:
From all I hear, the jury is no longer out in New York State.
Last year, the NYS ELA–a test that was described as brand new and aligned to the CCSS–was bad. We complained, we gave feedback, we worked to improve things–and I think many of us actually believed that the State would try to make a better test this year. But from what we are hearing, this year’s test was worse. The finest principals in the State are all saying that the best thing they could have done was to tell teachers and children to go home. The people I am hearing from are all agreeing the tests will tell nothing of value–that they were not testing anything close to what kids should be able to do in language arts.
I did not see the tests–I am not allowed to do so–therefore I rely on reports, as do all the parents across the State. I’m sympathizing with those parents, wondering what they have heard. What I have heard includes stories about some of the very strongest, most resolute third graders coming up to their teachers with tears welling, saying, “I can’t write anything here. I don’t understand what it is asking.” There are stories of brilliant teachers and principals trying to take the test themselves and finding that too many questions were obscure and confusing, too many had many possible answers. Teachers who are my heroes report their hearts were breaking, they do not know if they can continue to teach. Passages for third grades (on their first standardized test ever) at level X, three-part questions requiring a whole sequence of abstract steps, passages in archaic old English… And always, the kids are being asked to look between paragraphs, back and forth, back and forth, noting structures of paragraphs and intuiting author’s purposes…The work that people describe as being required on the ELA seems to me to be utterly unlike what reading and writing should be like for youngsters.