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Standardized testing concern grows; Teachers work overtime to re-score faulty tests

(WHAM-TV Rochester/WSYR Syracuse) -- A question about a talking pineapple stumped students and adults. The state has also admitted several math questions were flawed. The state blamed the math test errors on typos.
(WSYR-TV) -- Students across New York are taking standardized math tests this week, but the exams for third through eighth graders aren't adding up. Some schools are even paying teachers overtime to re-grade tests that had errors in the questions themselves.

There are multiple mistakes in the tests. Administrators are especially worried because more is riding on the tests than ever before, from teacher evaluations to district report cards.

First, the state pulled confusing questions about a talking pineapple from the eighth grade ELA test scores and on Tuesday, schools were told the scoring manual for the sixth grade essay portion was incorrect. And then on Wednesday, the state says do to a typo, an eighth grade math question had no right answer – that one will no longer count -- and a sixth grade math question had two correct answers.

School districts are now being forced to re-score the tests. In Fulton, that means bringing in teachers on overtime – at taxpayer expense – to get the job done.

“We brought in teachers today to work on re-scoring. It adds more complications and stress and time to what our staff’s trying to do,” said Fulton Superintendent William Lynch. “The outcome is with the students and teachers in the classroom. Those are the folks who experience the greatest frustration with this.”

Lynch said he had three teachers working overtime and about 50 students’ exams ended up having to be changed.

The Department of Education mandates the date schools have to submit student answers to the state. Even though they had to re-score tests because of the incorrect grading manual for sixth graders, the date was not pushed back.

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Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM-TV) – The backlash against the state’s standardized tests is growing.

A question about a talking pineapple stumped students and adults. Some students may have been exposed to a question about a talking yam in advance. The state has also admitted several math questions were flawed. The state blamed the math test errors on typos.

Students in grades 3-8 sat down for three days of English tests last week. On Wednesday, three days of math tests began. The tests are not only used to grade students, but their teachers. The tests can also be used to close poor-performing schools or remove staff and principals.

“I think it takes way too much time away from the classroom and there’s too much focus placed on how well kids test and it drives too much of the curriculum,” said School #12 parent Lori Bryce.

“The kids are talking about testing, testing, testing,” said Bryce’s husband, Roger Janezic. “No offense to their teacher at all, but they’re not focusing on learning a wider variety of material.”

Interim Superintendent Bolgen Vargas said a two-week testing period right after spring break is a problem. He also said the tests should be administered at the end of the year, not in April. Vargas said the test quality should be improved, if there are mistakes.

“Unfortunately today the discussion is about what is wrong with the tests, the questions that are not appropriate,” said Vargas. “That means that our teachers and our students are not putting their energy where it needs to be – on teaching and learning.”
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