Protesting the new standardized tests

photoBy George Hunka

Yesterday, protests took place at public schools around the city to express dissatisfaction with the latest round of standardized tests based on the new Common Core curriculum, and PS 150 was no exception. The photograph at right was taken yesterday morning during a demonstration at the foot of the steps of PS 150, and in this New York magazine story about the protests, PS 150 Principal Jenny Bonnet described the frustration that she, the teachers, and the students felt as the tests were administered earlier this month:

Rather than evaluating reading comprehension skills, Jenny Bonnet, principal of P.S. 150 in Tribeca says they were “more [about] having [students] have to flip back and forth and look at structural things versus having a deep understanding of what the passage is about … When I first looked at the test, I was just in shock. I was having trouble with my fellow teachers — we sat around and tried to answer some of the questions — and I thought, This is ridiculous. I’m an adult, I should be able to answer these questions. If it’s hard for me, these poor kids — they must be incredibly confused.”

In a speech at New York University on Thursday, New York State education commissioner John B. King Jr. defended the tests as being more reflective of Common Core standards than earlier evaluations, saying, “Unfortunately, the facts around testing seem to get lost. … The new Common Core tests are a much better reflection of the skills students will need for college and career success. They rely less on multiple choice and require students to write more. … They are better tests.” On April 9, Elizabeth Phillips, the principal of PS 321 in Park Slope, Brooklyn, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times protesting both the tests and the gag order imposed on those who administered them, “We Need to Talk About the Test: A Problem with the Common Core.”

Tomorrow Night: Forum on Common Core with John King

New York State Education Commissioner John King.

New York State Education Commissioner John King.

By George Hunka

Tomorrow night — Wednesday, December 11, 2013 — Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is sponsoring a public forum on Common Core standards with State Education Commissioner John King, who will be there to hear your thoughts and take your questions. The forum begins at 6:00pm and will be held at the Spruce Street School, 12 Spruce Street.

“I understand there is controversy surrounding this issue and that opinions about the new curriculum vary widely,” Silver writes; here’s an opportunity to air your thoughts and ask your questions of those responsible for implementing the standards. To read more about the Common Core standards, visit the Web site for the initiative here.