New York’s Core-aligned tests are too hard, teachers are complaining.
One version of the sixth-grade test asked students to answer questions based on a Smithsonian article, Nimbus Clouds: Mysterious, Ephemeral and Now Indoors, on a Dutch artist who creates and photographs indoor clouds.
Berndnaut Smilde’s favorite picture uses the architecture of the D’Aspremont-Lynden Castle in Rekem, Belgium. “The contrast between the original castle and its former use as a military hospital and mental institution is still visible” the artist writes. “You could say the spaces function as a plinth for the work.”
Others complained of a sixth-grade passage from That Spot by Jack London, which included “beaten curs,” “absconders of justice,” surmise, “savve our cabin,” and “let’s maroon him,” writes Valerie Strauss in her Washington Post column.
One version of the eighth-grade test required 13-year-olds to read a New York Times‘ story, Can a playground be too safe? with vocabulary such as “bowdlerized, habituation techniques, counterintuitive, orthodoxy, circuitous, risk averse culture, and litigious,” writes Strauss.
The story quotes a journal article by Norwegian scientists on why kids love risky play:
Paradoxically, we posit that our fear of children being harmed by mostly harmless injuries may result in more fearful children and increased levels of psychopathology.
Without seeing the questions, it’s hard to tell whether the test is unreasonably difficult. Is it possible to infer meaning from context? Or to ignore the “hard words” and still get the meaning?