Ugh! was the exclamation that crossed my lips when I realized the statewide exams were this April. It’s a tedious thing. No one sane would be willing to sit through three days of ELA and math examinations and read the most boring passages ever written or spend ninety minutes crunching numbers.
This terrible thing is not only a “New York thing”. All other forty-nine states have their own form of statewide tests for public schools. Many of these state tests are taken only from third to eighth grade. Some states like Alaska and Kansas have children take state tests third through twelfth grade. There are complaints all over the internet about state tests being ridiculous. Californians have accused their common core state test as overly complex math for such young students. New York City residents are blaming their rise in taxes on these states, or as they call it, “Cuomo Core Test experiment”.
In New York, most students failed these annual state exams. Last year only 31.1 % of kids passed English and 31% of kids passed Mathematics. Does this indicate that most new Yorkers are dumb? Not necessarily. Scientists claim that the state tests are poor indicators for intelligence. They claim the best way to test people’s intelligence is by testing three things- memory, verbal skills, and reasoning. The state tests as far as I know, are only testing memory.
In addition to being a pain in the neck for kids and an unreasonable way for ranking intelligence, these exams take away a lot from education. My sisters, who both attend elementary school, devoted an entire month to test prep for these state exams. Even our school BSGE which doesn’t believe in state exams as a measure of intelligence, lost time that would be otherwise spent teaching, because of these exams. Six classes have been missed due to the tests. Because of this, teachers have to figure out how to make their students catch up and stay on schedule.
In states like Washington, New York and California, these state exams may eventually not count for anything. As a student asked Ms. Kumar, a BSGE English teacher, if the test would go on students records, Ms. Kumar lowered her voice. She answered saying, “ Yes, I think you may be right that this means nothing.” But she did further advise, “Don’t bubble in your multiple choice with all A’s.” But the most important thing, she believed was to “ just be honest with yourselves.”