Putting Education Reform To The Test

New York Students Struggle To Finish Common Core Tests In Time Allowed

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New York students say they are having trouble finishing new tests tied to the Common Core in the allowed time.

New York students are struggling with redesigned tests tied to new education standards adopted by Florida and 44 other states, according to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

New York schools are giving the new tests for the first time this week. A common complaint? Not enough time:

Initial reports from around the state suggested a common struggle: Some children couldn’t complete the exam within the allotted time. Diana Chen, a sixth-grade teacher at Public School 126 in Manhattan, said her students could have used at least a half-hour more.


“The kids were exhausted,” she said after school on Thursday. “It was the first time where I had kids break down during the test.”

Kristen Huff, a research fellow at the state Education Department, said the department believed it had given students “ample time” to complete the exams after weighing field tests and research from the testmaker, Pearson PLC, and then adding more time on top of the company’s estimates. For the English test, third- and fourth-graders were given 70 minutes on each of three days; fifth- through eighth-graders had 90 minutes.

The new standards, known as Common Core, are expected to be tougher. As are the exams tied to Common Core.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush predicted that just one in three students would qualify as college or career-ready, which is what the new exams are designed to assess.

Florida educators expect public outcry and plenty of bad press once the standards take effect in 2014. Florida has joined more than 20 other states designing a new test called the Partnership for Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC. The first PARCC tests are scheduled for the spring of 2015.

In New York, many parents forbid their children from taking the exams. Those students that did take the exam said they were surprised by how tough it was:

Complaints were plentiful: the tests were too long; students were demoralized to the point of tears; teachers were not adequately prepared. Some parents, long skeptical of the emphasis on standardized testing, forbade their children from participating.

Maya Velasquez, 14, an eighth grader at the Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science and Engineering in Upper Manhattan said she had done well on tests in the past. But when a teacher on Wednesday informed her class that only 15 minutes remained in the exam, she knew she was in trouble. She had only written an introduction to her essay.

“All the kids were, like, open-mouthed, crazy-shocked and very upset,” she said.

New York students take the math exam next week. This blog has looked at the exam questions and found many of them were poorly worded, confusing or weren’t aligned with the standards the question was attempting to assess.


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