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NYSUT calls on Regents to personally read ELA and math tests

The statewide teachers union wants members of the Board of Regents to read state standardized tests in math and English developed by Pearson and administered to students this month.

New York State United Teachers President Karen Magee on Friday called on the Regents to personally review the tests so they could address concerns about the appropriateness of some questions and the length of the tests.

“The Regents are responsible for this system,” Magee said in a written statement. “They set education policy. They should know what’s on these tests.”

Teachers are barred from discussing the content of the state assessments, portions of which are never publicly released. Last year, the state Education Department released only half of the test questions after they were administered.

NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino pointed to published reports by bloggers and news outlets of leaked sections of the recent round of exams that have raised concerns. Below are the examples as NYSUT described them in a news release sent to reporters on Friday:

"• The third-grade ELA test reportedly contained a passage from “Drag Racer,” which had a grade-level difficulty of 5.9 and an interest level of 9-12th grade, as well as an allusion to the Aurora Borealis. In addition, teachers anonymously reported one question appeared exactly the same on both the third-grade test and the fifth-grade test.
• Fourth-graders, who are generally 10 years old, were reportedly required to write about the architectural designs of roller coasters and why cables are used instead of chains.
• News reports said sixth-graders were asked to read a Jack London story, “That Spot,” which included difficult words and obscure phrases such as “beaten curs,” “absconders of justice,” “savve our cabin,” and “let’s maroon him.”
• A sixth-grade reading passage references Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde, and includes this paragraph: As a result, the location of the cloud is an important aspect, as it is the setting for his creation and part of the artwork. In his favorite piece, Nimbus D’Aspremont, the architecture of the D’Aspremont-Lynden Castle in Rekem, Belgium, plays a significant role in the feel of the picture. “The contrast between the original castle and its former use as a military hospital and mental institution is still visible,” he writes. “You could say the spaces function as a plinth for the work.”"

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