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June 17, 2013

Forum airs state-test frustrations

(Continued)

Fellow panelist Tim Butler, who teaches fifth-grade at Keeseville Elementary and administered the exams to his students this year, told the crowd how part of the tests asked students to read three long passages and provide written responses.

“I did a readability level on all three of those passages, and each of them is at a seventh-grade reading level,” he said. “Keep in mind it’s a fifth-grade test.”

CLOSE-READING STRATEGY

In addition, Butler noted, the Common Core teaches a “close-reading” technique, intended to help students get more meaning out of difficult texts; however, “the children in my class who followed that close-reading strategy did not (have time to) finish the tests.”

And students who fail to take or finish the exams or do poorly on them, added Driscoll, “will be unnecessarily assigned to academic-intervention services, which cost the district money.”

He noted that Common Core is a good idea, but the testing that comes with it is detracting from classroom instruction and resources.

“We just want time to teach our kids, and, basically, the state keeps taking that time away,” Driscoll said.

‘ABSURD WASTE OF TIME’

Starting in third grade, elementary students are subjected to more than 10 hours of state testing alone, while middle- and high-school students undergo 11 and 12 hours, respectively, according to Driscoll.

It’s an “absurd waste of time that damages students psychologically and academically,” he said.

“Parents from across the state have reported their children not really wanting to go to school anymore, and I’m not talking about the kids who already hated school,” added Nielsen, who has been attending testing forums across the state and speaking with students, teachers and parents.

“I’m talking about the kids who loved going to school.

“They’re worried excessively about whether or not they’re cutting it anymore because they’re constantly told they’re not by tests.”

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