Spring 2015 NYS Math Exam – An Inside View

Parents: If you are in the Long Island Opt Out Facebook group make sure you check in this week to get a sense of what the New York State Math exams for grades 3-8 were like. You can just lurk and skim without even posting. Every comment below was publicly posted in that group. No comment posted below was edited by me.

This post follows up my incredibly popular (for this blog anyway) posts that curated the public, anonymous, comments that surfaced in the same group during the week of NYS ELA testing. Part 1 is here and part 2 is here.

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Anonymous Post:
I’ve received word from a teacher giving the math assessment this morning that “in my 5 years of giving this test this is by far the hardest. One of my top kids in class started crying 4 minutes into the exam” I thought you might like that info as I am foreseeing some really upset children after today.

Anonymous post:
8th grade Math Exam today- linear equations [heavy] unfair distribution
If you are a student who struggles you couldn’t pass.

Anonymous post:
Do you know that children that are in the country for less than a year are exempt from ELA BUT still must take the math test. I have a kid who moved here in September. NO ENGLISH!!! Has made great progress in speaking but still struggles with reading and writing obviously. He can do math bc his parents work with him in both languages. He has to take our math test!!! There is no straight computation. All word problems with several steps involved to solve them. He had no chance. He was in distress.very upset. He will fail and I will be ineffective!!!so unfair to put a kid through this. Yesterday was difficult and today was highly challenging for 8 year old kids.

Anonymous post:
Today teachers were crying!!!! I cried! Today was unfair! Today was abuse- especially for reading disabled kids, ELLs, and even average kid. What are we doing??? As a whole- the test heavily concentrated on fractions and area. Any addition or subtraction was part of multi step problems. It did not show what a kid learned all year. Very wordy- requiring abstract thinking that’s above many kid’s heads. Very sad that kids without translators are forced to sit there for 70 minutes. A girl who has been in the country a short time has been excelling in math but came back saying that test was HORRIBLE! These government officials have no clue what’s going on in these classes!! They need to investigate
(Comment left on the above post included:  “7th grade was so bad yesterday that in addition to those who cried during yesterday’s test, I had two crying before today’s began. Another opted out of the last day after breaking down yesterday, and when we came to the question part of the directions, the only questions were what to do if they get too stressed. ..what are we doing to our children?”)

Anonymous post:
As a school nurse it so difficult watching these kids suffer through this rigorous testing. The number of kids I have seen in the past 2 weeks on test days has doubled and some days even tripled. From stomach aches, head aches, anxiety attacks to throwing up. For those parents who feel their kid needs this test so you can “see how they are doing”, please educate yourself on what these tests are truly about. It’s not about letting your child take the easy way out. Educate your child and yourselves. There is a way to explain why they won’t be taking it that sends a very positive message. From what I have seen in my office, this is no way to treat a young child. This needs to stop.

(Not an anonymous comment below, but I am posting it without a name.)
There is a lot of inferencing and math reasoning needed to be able to function at a high level on this test. Children with reading disabilities and children from foreign countries have very little chance on this math test and not because they are not good at math. I realize that if kids do well it shows they are very good and can apply skills but if it was read to some kids they could do equally as well and it’s unfair. My ELL kids are great at math but now will get a 1 or 2 and it shows they didn’t grow. The work I have seen them do shows me so much more and it’s sad

Anonymous post:
I proctored the 4th grade NYS math test this week for a group of our Special ed children. Some needed the test read to them, which already puts them behind the eight ball. It was just heartbreaking, the kids were in tears, I was in tears. I am not their teacher but I know they have a dedicated, wonderful teacher, yet almost every answer was wrong. Some of the wording was almost purposeful in trying to confuse them. Simply put, it was cruel. I felt that I should have been allowed to make copies of the test & send it home to their parents. Let the parents talk to them about it, the parents have a right to know what made their chlldren struggle and cry during the day! Our district had many children opt out, but some of the ones that didn’t teachers were telling me kids were doodling, filling in dots in patterns, etc. Such a flawed system. This is what will deem our educators “ineffective??”

(Not an anonymous comment below, but I am posting it without a name.)
I have absolutely no words to describe the grade 3 math test today. My only wish is that every parent could see these tests. In 8 years, I have never witnessed anything like this.

Anonymous post:
Fifth grade math question, Day 3, has drawing of a bin labeled 4 ft w, h, l with 3 sections drawn in it. “A recycling bin is in the shape of a cube. The bin is divided into 3 equal sections that each hold different types of paper. The school principal notices that only one-half of one section is filled with paper. What is the volume, in cubic feet, of the rest of the bin that can be filled with paper?”