Since I’m in Delaware, I couldn’t reveal my signed obligations… But someone in New Jersey can… And likewise, I can reveal questions off the PAARC in New Jersey, whereas no teacher in New Jersey can…..

And it is all legal.  Neither of us violated our signed statements.

Here is what every parent needs to know is on the PAARC for fourth grade.

On the Spring 2016 PARCC for 4th Graders, students were expected to read an excerpt from Shark Life: True Stories about Sharks and the Sea by Peter Benchley and Karen Wojtyla. According to Scholastic, this text is at an interest level for Grades 9-12, and at a 7th Grade reading level. The Lexile measure is 1020L, which is most often found in texts that are written for middle school, and according to Scholastic’s own conversion chart would be equivalent to a 6th grade benchmark around W, X, or Y using the Fountas and Pinnell scale.

However Common Core standards dictate a student should be at level S on this scale by the end of 4th Grade.  The reading material on this test is therefore two grades advanced of the level of stressed teaching recommend even by Common Core. 

Since by Common Core itself, the Lexile measure of 1020 is for grades 6-8….. so why is Pearson putting this in a test to be taken by 9 year olds?

Right out of the gate, 4th graders are being asked to read and respond to texts that are two grade levels above the recommended benchmark. (Which, duh, is why we are telling every single parent to opt out of this test!!! )

“After they struggle through difficult texts with advanced vocabulary and nuanced sentence structures, they then have to answer multiple choice questions that are, by design, intended to distract students with answers all of which appear to be correct except for some technicality.”

Finally students combine a series of these two-year advanced texts, and write an essay based on prompts.  The ELA portion of the PARCC takes three days, and each day includes a new essay prompt based on multiple texts….

Here is a pulled question from the test.

ELA 4TH GRADE PROMPT #1

Refer to the passage from “Emergency on the Mountain” and the poem “Mountains.” Then answer question 7.

  1. Think about how the structural elements in the passage from “Emergency on the Mountain” differ from the structural elements in the poem “Mountains.”

Write an essay that explains the differences in the structural elements between the passage and the poem. Be sure to include specific examples from both texts to support your response.

Now, you are an adult. Could you do this?  Click the links, reread the question, and decided if this is grade appropriate for 9 year olds.  

Common Core standard RL.4.5“Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.”

But nowhere does it say children should be comparing the structural elements between a passage and poem.  This is something most all adults would fail as well, since the entire ELA lexicon has changed since they were in school. Structures have completely different names now.

So why is Pearson putting this in the PAARC for fourth graders, age 9 years?

The answer:  to drive scores lower so they can sell book on how to improve your child’s score.

The entire enterprise of analyzing text structures, called the New Criticism, is a literary theory that dominated American literary criticism in the middle decades of the 20th century, and has since been left there.  So why are we making children perform what professors forced on their college students in 1950?

ELA 4TH GRADE PROMPT #2

Refer to the passages from “Great White Shark” and Face the Sharks. Then answer question 20.

Question 20: Using details and images in the passages from “Great White Sharks” and Face to Face with Sharks, write an essay that describes the characteristics of white sharks.

This prompt assesses a student’s ability to research a topic across sources and write a research-based essay that synthesizes facts from both articles.  CCSS RI.4.9 says: “Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.” Fine. But remember, this is being done on middle school grade level reading. 

This is unfair. It is the equivalent of  trying to assess children’s math computational skills by embedding them in a word problem written in a foreign language that the child cannot read.)  No one can say this correctly assesses a student’s ability at grade level…

So why is Pearson putting this in the PAARC for fourth graders, age 9 years?

The answer:  to drive scores lower so they can sell book on how to improve your child’s score.

ELA 4TH GRADE PROMPT #3

  1. In “Sadako’s Secret,” the narrator reveals Sadako’s thoughts and feelings while telling the story. The narrator also includes dialogue and actions between Sadako and her family. Using these details, write a story about what happens next year when Sadako tries out for the junior high track team. Include not only Sadako’s actions and feelings but also her family’s reaction and feelings in your story.

 

Nowhere, and I mean nowhere in the Common Core State Standards is there a demand for students to read a narrative and then use the details from that text to write a new story based on a prompt. That is a new pseudo-genre called “Prose Constructed Response” by the PARCC creators, and it is 100% not aligned to the CCSS. Not to mention, why are 4th Graders being asked to write about trying out for the junior high track team? This demand defies their experiences and asks them to imagine a scenario that is well beyond their scope.

So why is Pearson putting this in the PAARC for fourth graders, age 9 years?

The answer:  to drive scores lower so they can sell book on how to improve your child’s score.

 

Now it is no secret that many of us find the Common Core Standards to be ridiculous in the first place… Read them, and quickly agree….  However… that is beyond the point of this article.  It’s point is to “point out” that the Pearson Test does not even conform to the Common Core standards it is supposed to represent….. In other words, it is impossible to teach to… because this test is so far advanced over what the students are capable of reaching, and it gives prompts that are completely off the chart over what Common Core is supposed to be teaching at this grade level.

In all aspects this test is a colossal failure.  And therefore it is important that it gets stopped.

The best way and only way to stop it (barring a state legislature coming to its senses and voting to remove either the Smarter Balanced or the PAARC from their entire state), is for large numbers of people to opt out….

If these tests are meaningless because no one shows up to take them, then the point will hit legislators hard and corrective action will be taken if not sooner, then later after all of those royally pissed-off parents vote, and they no longer find themselves in office.

This is the best way because it puts you the parent in control of the fate of your children…

Now that you have seen the tests let us look at the administration’s arguments why they insist you should not opt out…..

“Assessments are an important tool for teachers and families to have,”  Jack Markell 2016

Are they?  Now that you have seen what these assessments are, tell us how they do anything to help teachers and families…  “Damn it Junior, you failed the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  No computer for you this summer; no breakfast or dinner either…”

“Minority and other at-risk students will slip through the cracks if there is no objective measure of performance,”  Jack Markell 2016

So how do they benefit, if they are already struggling through poverty just to keep up with their white peers, and then get slammed by an assessment two grade levels above their best possible hope of attainment… If you push children off a cliff to the rocks below and tell them to flap their arms as wings, will they learn to fly?

Even hard hearted minority parents who see the exact questions their Afro-American children will now have to answer, even the most starry-eyed of them can now see that their entire race will be targeted and “black-listed” as being “below standard” unless they all opt out and we get rid of this test and replace it with one more realistic.

Business groups that believe results should be measured when billions of dollars are spent on schools  Jack Markell 2016

Business groups need to go fvck themselves.  You’ve read the questions! How do questions two grade levels advanced show results of billions of dollars?  In fact, if these business groups had any moral fiber whatsoever, they should have been the ones pouring over every one of these tests with a fine tooth comb, before these ever got disseminated to rate students, parents, teachers and schools.  What kind of business group would support testing children at two grade levels over what they have ever learned?

Not only should they go fvck themselves, but they should do it in hell and skip purgatory!

Lawmakers also should take note that federal law mandates annual tests and that states that do not meet certain participation levels could lose federal funds.  Jack Markell 2016

Now that you have read these questions real 9 year olds have to answer… let us put that phrase exactly as it was stated…..

“Lawmakers also should take note that federal law mandates annual tests (not aligned with Common Core and scored two grade levels above every student taking them), meet certain participation levels or lose federal funds….”

I hope by now you can see the insanity of this entire program… If the tests did measure proper standards at proper grade levels, which is what we all automatically assumed would be what would happen, then all of this might make some sense…..

But that is not reality.  The reality is that these tests are designed on purpose to FAIL HUGE PERCENTAGES OF OUR STUDENTS….

No if‘s… No and‘s…. No but‘s….

You must opt out, or lose your kids to a life of video games and social media.  That’s exactly where I’d go if I were a student in this zoo we created for them today. The only way to regain any semblance of credibility for any educational program in the United States, is to quickly get rid of these tests …..

In no way do we benefit from failing HUGE PERCENTAGES OF OUR STUDENTS, all because they instinctively did not know what they will eventually learn two years hence…..

  • Opt out.
  • Scream at your legislator.
  • Protest.
  • Make damn sure the following:  Sokola, Jaques, and Schwartzkoph all lose this November.

 

Just don’t do nothing…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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