Regents chancellor Merryl Tisch and education commissioner John King defended the tests.
King explained that the state released 25 percent of the test items last year, and the Regents asked for additional funding that would have allowed the state to release more questions, but the request was not included in the final budget.
He also said every question on New York's exams are reviewed by teachers. The tests are developed jointly by the education department and education-publishing giant Pearson.
The exams have been reviewed by an outside evaluator, he said. Human Resources Research Organization, assessed the exams to ensure that they are aligned to the Common Core standards, King said. The group also evaluated the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a national standardized test.
Officials didn't immediately respond to a request for the organization's analysis.
Tisch and King reiterated that there were no paid product placements on the exams. They argued that the tests include authentic texts—passages taken from books or magazine articles—as opposed to readings created specifically for the exams. Brand names are occasionally referenced in authentic texts, they argued.
“In original texts, what happens is, there are paragraphs that say, 'Jimmy went to blow his nose. He went to the teacher's desk and took the Kleenex,” Tisch said. “That is very different than allowing Kleenex to advertise on the tests.”
Regent James Tallon, president of the United Hospital Fund of New York and a former majority leader of the State Assembly, said the criticisms are nothing new, and they're not exclusive to Common Core exams.
“Respectfully, there are people who don't like the idea of standardized testing,” he said.
In short, nothing to see here, folks, the criticism is coming from people who don't like standardized tests, so no reason to listen to any of it.
I wrote somewhere yesterday that the sands are shifting in the ed reform wars, with so many people coming out to protest Andrew Cuomo last night over his education policies, so many people complaining about the Core on the Internet and TV, so many parents complaining about it at PTA meetings and Board of Education meetings, and now comedians like Louis C.K. jumping into the debate and ridiculing the CCSS.
I don't know if the proponents of the Core understand just how much opposition is mounting to the Core and the reform agenda that spawned it.
Clearly from yesterday's Regents meeting, our educrats in Albany do not.
They seem to think they can just ride this out, keep the reform pedal to the metal and everything will be all right.
This year, the Regents were essentially backed by the legislature, which took out only one of the four members of the board up for new terms, and even there, replaced him with somebody who claimed to know little about the CCSS wars.
But I'm going to make a prediction here, that as opposition to the Core continues to grow across the state, those same legislators who followed Shelly Silver's lead this past year and essentially gave Shelly's pal Merryl Tisch support for her ed agenda are going to be less jejune about doing that in the near future.
The political costs of supporting the education reform agenda are starting to mount and as they do, the politicians in Albany are going to be less willing to support it.
One way we may see Tisch and King react to the criticism is by raising the scores on the CCSS tests this year to try and siphon off criticism of the CCSS tests from parents concerned about low scores for their kids.
But even that political expediency from Tisch and King won't defend them from the anger students, parents and teachers have over the CCSS curriculum being pushed here in NY State and elsewhere.
The sands have shifted for this battle, but judging from yesterday's meeting of the Regents, most of them seem to think they are still on solid ground in this fight.