But King took pains to defend the new Common Core tests coming, which he said will be of a much higher quality:
“It is important to note that this test section does not incorporate the Common Core and other improvements to test quality currently underway,” Mr. King said in a statement. “This year’s tests incorporate a small number of Common Core field test questions. Next year’s test will be fully aligned with the Common Core.”
He added that this particular passage, like all other questions, was reviewed by a committee comprised of teachers from across the state, but it was not crafted for New York State. Mr. King also noted that media reports about the passage weren’t complete. He was specifically referring to a Daily News report that included the reading passage.
He defends his tests he's got Pearson developing for next year and beyond as much more improved than what showed up in the Daily News yesterday because a) the NYSED and Pearson are much more aware of the importance of rigor and quality and b) they're going to be aligned to the Common Core.
So next year's tests are going to scrape the skies in terms of quality and people should move on from this year's tests.
In other words, there's nothing to see here, just keep moving.
But as Elizabeth Philips, principal of PS 321, showed in her letter to Commissioner King, it wasn't just the 8th grade ELA exam that was problematic - they ALL were.
Given that students will be held back based upon these test results, teachers will be declared "ineffective" based upon these test results and schools will be stamped "failing" based on these test results and perhaps even closed and turned into for-profit charter schools, it is certainly important that we NOT just move on from the quality of this year's tests, as Commissioner King would like us to do.
The NYSED is now keeping the NY State tests secret and will look to prosecute anybody who publishes or publicizes the testing material. They say they must do this for test quality and security purposes, but the reality is, they are keeping these tests secret because they are afraid they will not stand up to scrutiny in the light of day.
This goes for not only these pre-Common Core tests Pearson is issuing this year but the so-called improved Common Core assessments the NYSED and Pearson plan to issue next year.
You can be sure that if Pearson feels the need to keep recycling badly designed sections of an ELA test every year in at least six different states for the past half decade or more, they will feel the same need once the Common Core tests arrive.
Quality testing material is a lot like a pineapple that grows on a tree - it takes a while to develop and bring to fruition before it is ripe enough for consumption.
Given the realities of the new teacher evaluation system that are going to require 35+ state and local tests a year per student in grades 3-12, you can be assured that Pearson will not be rolling out quality testing material on a regular basis.
Rather, we're going to get plenty of slapdash material, hastily put together, thrown out without any care or thought, and hidden from scrutiny by politicians and political functionaries like John King for alleged security reasons.
King can defends The Hare and the Pineapple selection and associated questions as fine all he wants.
He can say that if you read the whole selection, the answers for those questions are contained in the passage.
Gotham Schools printed the whole passage and all six questions associated with it and there is a fine Common Core argument to be made here that Question # 7 and Question # 8 are ambiguous at best.
Because we can see this passage and the questions Pearson asked about it, we can see just how problematic this test is (and how even more problematic it is to make high stakes decisions based upon these test results.)
If these tests are kept secret as Mr. King and the Regents want to keep them in the future, we will not be able to expose the slapdash quality and arbitrary nature of the questions and therefore not be able to question the questioners.
I will say again, if teacher evaluations that are based upon these test scores are FOILable and printable in the papers, these tests are FOILable and printable in the papers.
The mayor and the governor, the oligarchs running the Times and the Post and the News, all say that it is the public's right to know the quality of the teachers teaching in the school system.
If that is so, then it is also the public's right to know the quality of the high stakes standardized tests being created by Pearson and rolled out all across the state by Commissioner King and his merry men and women at the NYSED.
These people in power are all for teacher accountability, but they shirk from accountability up the chain of command and consistently like to pass that accountability onto others.
Commissoner King in his defense of the Hare and the Pineapple did this just yesterday when he said that the selection and questions had been approved by a panel of teachers.
See, it's not his fault.
It's never his fault.
And anyway, the passage and the questions are fine.
Nothing to see here, keep moving.
Hey, look! Bad teachers over there!!!!!