Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Day two ELA - Pearson's Listening Passage is a joke.

Today was day two of the NYS ELA Assessment.  As the proctor for my 7th grade students, I had to read a listening passage twice to the students as they took notes.  After the reading, the students had to answer a graphic organizer, multiple choice questions and write an essay pertaining to the listening passage.

The listening passage was disjointed, unorganized and vague.  Since Pearson, err, I mean NYSED does not allow the public to see the tests that judge our students, teachers, and schools, I will discuss a similar topic without revealing the actual information.

The story was about a very famous foreign-born athlete in somewhat recent history.  Since I can't use this athlete's real name, lets say it was about basketball player Dirk Nowitzki instead.

The first paragraph tells about how Dirk can dribble through the entire opposition and uses some adjectives to describe his skill set.

The second paragraph very briefly talks about his early playing days.  It mentions that Dirk was so valuable that Germany(not the real country either, but Dirk's homeland) would not let Dirk play outside the country for fear of losing him.  But then the story says he played in the World Championships and then played for a team in the United States.  The story never said how or why he was eventually allowed to play in a foreign country.

It then randomly inserts other topics, such as how when Dirk travels to foreign countries he commands great respect and crowds gather to greet him.  Then the story jumps  into his later playing days.  At two different points, long statistics are thrown out that are difficult to read and follow.  For example, in the middle of the story, it said that Dirk had scored 1,246 points in 1,336 games.  Imagine trying to read that to the class.  Then later in the story, it states that Dirk came out of retirement and gives new updated stats to read.  The issue is that the story never compared Dirk's stats to other players.  Was he the highest scoring player in history? Unsure. How do those random stats compare to other players? The kids told me afterwards that they tried to write the numbers down quickly thinking that every fact could be important.

I wish I could relate the entire tale, but the story truly was jumbled, so bad, I swear a kid must have written this.  I think the author went to a wikipedia page and just copied facts without any sense of organization into his writing.

The kids were asked to write an essay about "Dirk's" accomplishments, but I can't see how they could do anything but spit the facts back out, which makes for a poor writing sample.

If this is what we in NYS get for our tax dollars from Pearson, I want a refund.  This question could not be a "field question", because it was the major portion of today's exam.  I am still stunned over this listening piece.   I asked the other teachers who proctored the test and they had similar reactions.  I can only guess as to how the students will do on this section. I guess I'll find out on April 30th when we grade the exams.   Remember these poorly written exams are used to judge our students, teachers and schools  Now you know why teachers are upset about the new evaluation system.  Now you know why the opt-out movement needs your support.