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Parents, Teachers Rally Against Common Core Tests In Brooklyn

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Parents, students and teachers rallied against the state’s controversial Common Core testing Friday in Brooklyn.

The protest was held outside P.S. 321 in Park Slope after hundreds of third, fourth and fifth grade students took the English language arts assessments this week.

Teachers complained that the exam is awful at testing reading comprehension.

This is the second year that the assessments are based on the Common Core Learning Standards adopted by most states based on a curriculum with tougher standards and increased testing linked to teacher evaluations.

For months, parents and some educators have fought against the credibility of the exams.

Teachers say they haven’t been given the proper guidance or materials to teach the new standards while parents and others say they are more of a pointless ordeal than a true measure of progress.

Many at P.S. 321 Friday morning said this week’s ELA exam was riddled with baffling questions and content that did not reflect curriculum and classwork.

“Teachers were outraged yesterday after the third day of the ELA test because, in their perspective, the test was full of inappropriate questions that did not reflect the Common Core standard,” Olga Garcia-Caplan, a P.S. 321 parent, told 1010 WINS.

While they say they’re bound by test security and cannot reveal details, many educators said they’ve never seen an exam do a worse job at testing reading comprehension.

“Worse than I could have ever imagined,” Principal Liz Phillips told WCBS 880′s Paul Murnane. “It does not test reading comprehension in any way.”

“I think the public, teachers and parents should be allowed to see the test, talk about the test,” said Assistant Principal Beth Handman.

“We can just stop the test because it’s not really showing what we’ve learned all year,” student Matthew Seigel said.

Many stressed they’re not against testing, but say there has to be a better way.

“I am in favor of some testing, but the idea that teacher evaluation is tied to testing, the idea that a New York City promotion is tied to testing, I am against that high-stakes nature,” Phillips said. “I think we need a better test, a shorter test and a test that doesn’t have such high-stakes attached to it.”

“We are not opposed to testing, but we do want valid assessments of their performance,” Garcia-Caplan said. “That at the end of the day, we can sit down and see what the questions were, what it is asking the children and that it is a reflection of what they are being taught during the school year.”

Supporters of the tests say the goal is to teach kids to reason and not just memorize.

“We are absolutely committed to the Common Core,” said New York State Education Commissioner John King Jr. “We see that Common Core is a path to make sure more of our students are college and career ready.”

The state said the tests were developed and reviewed by state teachers, and field-tested with students across New York state.

Under the recently passed budget, scores on Common Core-aligned tests for students from third to eighth grade would remain off their transcripts through 2018.

School districts would be prevented from using the scores as the sole way for determining student placement.

Legally, parents can opt their children out of taking the tests.

A spokesman for the New York State Department of Education said they do not yet know how many students refused to take the test, but state officials said more than 1 million students opted in on Tuesday.

The statewide math assessments are scheduled for April 30 through May 2.

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