that farshtunkiner test, part 2

by marjorieingall on April 26, 2010

The New York State Third Grade ELA Test Sucks Weasels, Part 2.

You Take The Test!

Here goes:


Here is a letter written by Gordon. [Ed. note: Nice passive voice, dudes.] Read the letter. Then do Numbers 1 through 6.

Dear Uncle Nate,

I wanted to thank you for coming to my school play, Life on the Farm. You may not know this, but this was the first time I’ve ever performed in a play. Boy, was I nervous. When the play started, I could feel my hands sweating and my heart racing.

I don’t know if you noticed, but I forgot my lines several times. I don’t think anyone heard my teachers whispering them to me across the stage. Did you like the way I tried to act natural when I tripped over the cow? I think everyone thought I was supposed to do that.

The best part was at the end of the play when we took a bow and everyone clapped.

Thank you for coming to my play. I’ll let you know when I’m in another one.

Your nephew,


Finding Main Idea

1. The main idea of the first paragraph is found

A. in the first sentence.

B. in the last sentence.

C. in the middle of the paragraph.

D. by thinking about the most important idea in the paragraph.

[Uh, is the main idea “thank you” or the is the main idea “I was nervous”? I DON’T KNOW! AND I AM 43! AND A PROFESHUNUL RITER!]

Recalling Facts and Details

3. Which detail tells us that Gordon was nervous?

A. I could feel my hands sweating.

B. I tripped over the cows.

C. This was the first time I’ve ever performed in a play.

D. Thank you for coming to my play.

[Come on! You don’t think A and B could both be a reasonable sign of nerves?? How about terrified kids puking during tests so that teachers have to wipe off the vomit and seal the test sheets in plastic baggies to send to the scorers? Would that be a reasonable sign of nerves? Joey, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?]

Understanding Sequence

6. You can tell the order of events described in the letter by

A. thinking about the beginning, the middle and the ending.

B. looking for clue words.

C. thinking about the main idea.

D. finding the facts and details.

[Reading this question causes me to lose my will to live. How does it make you feel? Could it possibly make reading seem any LESS fun? Could it possibly make you MORE narcoleptic and sad? Maybe if it could somehow reach out from your monitor and hit you with a mallet.]

{ 2 trackbacks }

grading your kid’s tests
April 27, 2010 at 10:43 am
“were you high when you wrote that?”
April 23, 2012 at 9:51 am

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Lori April 27, 2010 at 4:50 am

This is pretty pathetic. If it makes you feel any better…NYC has always had ridiculous tests. When I was growing up we had to take competency exams. I believe they gave us the same exams in 5th & 6th grades (exactly the same questions!) and then a HS version in 11th & 12th grades. I behaved quite badly when given the same exact exam in 12th grade and was told I had to sit still (without reading materials) for 3 hours. The test took about 45 minutes the second time around. It is disheartening that 25 years later educators still haven’t made much progress in this area! Fight the fight, but know that this battle is hard won.

Susan May 20, 2010 at 4:34 pm

This is the kind of test where, after taking enough of them, you figure out what the testers want you to say, regardless of what kind of sense it makes or not.

Susan May 20, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Oh! And – how old is Gordon supposed to be, anyway? The evidence is conflicting – on the one hand, this thank-you note is written at an adult level, complete with compound sentences and conditional phrasing. On the other hand – the play is called “Life on the Farm”, it’s the boy’s first play, and the best part was taking the bow, all of which points to a kindergarten experience. Honestly, this is what threw me the most.

Leanne October 15, 2011 at 11:23 am

So what is the answer to number 1? My daughter has this as a practice test and I’m not sure! And I’m a writer!

marjorieingall October 15, 2011 at 11:31 am

Hi Leanne!

I DON’T KNOW. I think it’s either A (because the “main idea” is saying thank you to the uncle for coming) or D (because one does have to think about the most important idea in the paragraph, but isn’t that redundant b/c it is essentially restating the question? In other words: NO FREAKIN’ CLUE.

Sincerely, freakin’ magna cum laude Harvard grad

Leanne October 15, 2011 at 11:39 am

I can’t stand these tests! My kid is a great reader but apparently not a good “standardized” test taker for reading. She thinks differently than the question writers do. Thanks for having this up here! I just came upon when I was googling about standardized tests and issues with them.

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