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New York parents, teachers and kids protest Common Core tests

Published: Friday, April 11 2014 10:49 p.m. MDT

A week after taking the new Common Core tests, kids, parents and teachers from some of Manhattan's best schools turned out for large protests of the tests, arguing that they were unfair and confusing.

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Led by principals and teachers, parents and students from some of New York's best schools protested Friday morning against the new Common Core English tests, which were administered there and around the country last week.

"Parents marching with their children complained that the tests, which took three days, were a waste of time and energy for their kids and the teachers," DNAinfo New York reported. "They also criticized the confusing nature of the tests, along with a number of product placements in the questions — with references to products like Barbie and Nike throughout the exam, parents said."

Much of the criticism centers on the exam's secrecy, and critics have argued that after the test is administered the questions should be released for public scrutiny.

Defenders of Common Core have all along suspected that well-off parents and students object to the new testing in part because they don't want to be told that their kids are not excellent.

Kasha Raulph, an 8-year-old third-grader, who spoke to DNAinfo New York, didn't do much to dispel this notion when she said she thought the tests "weren't fair," after marching with her mother and classmates. "I don't think they were good — they were too hard."

But Brooklyn principal Liz Phillips wasn't complaining about rigor when she posted an open letter to parents calling for Friday's protest.

"Our 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders have just completed three days of the New York State English Language Arts Exam. Your children were wonderful and worked incredibly hard. On the whole, we think that we were able to protect them from the worst stresses of the test, and most seemed fine during most of the exam. However, the teachers and administration are truly devastated by what a terrible test it was and how little it will tell us about our students," her letter read. (Emphasis in original.)

"Because we are bound by test security, we cannot reveal details but we can tell you that we have never seen an ELA exam that does a worse job of testing reading comprehension," Phillips added. "There was inappropriate content, many highly ambiguous questions, and a focus on structure rather than meaning of passages. Our teachers and administrators feel that this test is an insult to the profession of teaching and that students’ scores on it will not correlate with their reading ability."

In a speech earlier in the week, New York School State Education Commissioner John King refused to give any ground on the tests, Chalkbeat New York reported: "He described recent debates over those efforts as 'noise' and 'drama,' and attributed some of the outcry to 'misinformation.’ ”

"His comments struck a nerve with some of the principals, who usually avoid getting involved in education’s political fights, but felt impelled to refute the notion that misinformed members of the public were stirring up unrest about the tests," Chalkbeat added.

Email: eschulzke@desnews.com

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