Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Monday, January 27, 2014

Was The Fix In On The ELA Regents Exam?

NYC Educator has a post up tonight about the outrage that was the ELA Regents exam.

Here's a bit of what he said:

Read the two passages and show a controlling idea about insights. That's what today's Regents exam asked my kids to do. The thing is, most of them have only been in the country a few years. And there are likely plenty of American-born kids who don't know what an insight is. Certainly insight is lacking on the part of the test designers, unless their goal is to fail as many New York students as possible. That's certainly what my buddy Reality-Based Educator thinks.

But I watched a bunch of kids struggle. One claimed the word was not in his dictionary. ESL students get to use bilingual dictionaries for these tests, and they also hear the listening passage an additional time and get 50% more time. But you don't have to be a tarot card reader to know that anyone who doesn't know what an insight is will have a tough time writing about it. Here's what the dictionary says it is:

in·sight  (ĭn′sīt′)
1. The capacity to discern the true nature of a situation; penetration.
2. The act or outcome of grasping the inward or hidden nature of things or of perceiving in an intuitive manner.
Personally, that makes it even more confusing for me. It's when you have an "aha!" moment and figure something out. But I wasn't seeing that happen.
So here's what I'm seeing--in an effort to push more Common Core nonsense and make us think our kids will be stupid without it, they're throwing in notions kids won't easily grasp and making them write about them whether or not the kids even know English. You don't understand that? Then screw you, you fail.

Here's a comment I wrote on his post:

It was a deliberate doubling down, a "@#$% you everybody, we'll do what we want and there's nothing you can do to us because Bill Gates has our backs" instance. The failure rate on this test is going to be very, very high. Students need 20 on the multiple choice to be able to survive a 6 out of 10 on the writing. The Part 3 "insight" passage guarantees that lots of kids will get a 6 out of 10 on the writing component. Many kids had no idea what the word meant, and even if they did, they couldn't connect the passages to a decent controlling idea. The Part 3 is a badly designed task in the first place, but it's made a lot worse when the freaking passages don't easily fit together and one of the passages is about space aliens in the form of yellow dust.

I think we should make a big stink about this test with the politicians until they do something about these evil people at SED and the Regents. This test today was a total hammer job on kids, teachers and schools. I will wait to see what the grading material looks like tomorrow, but if it is as "rigorous" as I suspect it will, then we'll know they intended lots of failures and we should action to have the results of these exams either nullified or the grading chart changed after the fact.

I have been fuming since I first saw this test at 1 PM this afternoon. And the more I think about it, the angrier I get. But we have power to do something about it too. The pols are ready to make a move against King and Tisch - maybe high failure rates on the ELA Regents will be just the thing to make them do it.

We'll see what the grading materials look like and how the state wants the exams scored.

But I suspect the fix was in with this exam - they were looking to make the passing rates plummet.

They can do it by just rigging the Part 3 - unless students get a 2 out of 2 on either the Question #26 (Controlling Idea Paragraph) or the Question # 27 (Literary Element Paragraph), it pretty much means they fail the exam.

This exam is going to have many kids getting 1 out of 2 on both questions.

In order to pass, they will have to get a 4 out of 6 on their Part 4 Critical Lens Essays and at least 20 out of 25 multiple choice questions right.

This will be a hard task for many of them.

In my 13 years of teaching, I've never seen a more badly designed Part 3 component than this one.

Students literally can fail the entire exam because they do not have a complete understanding of one word.

Or, viewing it from another angle, the state deliberately rigged the exam by ensuring students will fail the Part 3 writing components, thus ensuring that they fail the exam overall.


  1. January 2012 English Regents = 45 conversion opportunities for a 75+

    August 2013 English Regents = 35 conversion box opportunities for a 75+

    January 2014 English Regents = 30 conversion box opportunities for a 75+

    "The Squeeze" created by corrupt/lazy Regents personnel whose needs to manipulate are greater than the need to help children.

  2. Please let teachers know how we can fight this. The combination of the ridiculous Part 3 ("insight," really? after years of "developing a skill" and "relationships" and other more tangible topics, and the totally bizarre passage about space dust with no characters, no conflict….) and the completely unfair conversion chart, add up to deliberate sabotaging of teachers and our students. How are we telling kids they can't graduate because they got a "60" on a test that a year ago they would have passed with the same score? Yes, let's make a big stink about this!

  3. My daughter is a junior and she missed the January 2014 English Regents by 2 points with a grade of 63. She is such a hard working student with an English grade of 90. She scored a 164 on the PSAT. How can this be? Makes absolutely no sense.