New York Public Library photo of schoolkids in 1912 being read a "fairy story" outside. Today, they'd be doing test prep instead. Though that kid on the left looks like she'd be suffering either way.

I got Todd Farley‘s book Making the Grades: My Misadventures in the Standardized Testing Industry from Amazon today (hi, Todd!) and I am psyched to read it this weekend. To tide me over till then in the depressing-the-crap-out-of-me department, I just read this post on Accountable Talk, a blog by an anonymous NYC public school teacher. Mr. Talk reflects on the rules for grading the New York State English Language Arts (ELA) test. He learns that run-on sentences are A-OK according to the scoring standards, because the essay remains “readable.” Go over there and read his bitter, funny post.

I am off grading the ELA test for the next three days I am sure glad I came because I have the opportunity to grade the mechanics portion of the test I have learned something new I was told that a paper can still receive a 3 out of 3 points for mechanics as long as there are just a few minor errors another amazing thing I learned is that if a student makes an error over and over again it counts as only one error so say a student makes an unimaginably long run on sentence like this one it should be graded a 3 as long as there are few other errors and the paper is “readable” it’s funny because I was always taught that some errors interfere with readability it seems to me that an interminiable sentence really messes up the meaning of an essay but if you use big words like “interminable” or “unimaginably” you still get a 3 because how can a child be expected to get the mechanics right when they are studying big vocabulary words anyway we should consider student ELA essays as if they were first drafts because after all they are first drafts and we shouldn’t expect them to be perfect

I, for one, am glad that the state and city have decided to tighten up their standards this year and make the test more difficult of course if you give writing like this the highest score it doesn’t really matter what a student writes anyway e e cummings would have loved the NYS ELA exam. Period.

Sing it, bro.

Mr Talk has another great post entitled “But The Data Says I Suck!” about how his own scores on the new NYC teacher data report blew. As did the scores of most of his colleagues. But he’s a teacher at one of the highest-performing schools in the city, which meant that his students didn’t show sufficient progress from year to year (because how do you show progress when you’re already at the tippy-top? Duh much?), hence the suckage. It’s nice to know our children’s teachers are as battered by testing as our kids. Vomitbaggies for everyone!

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