Susan Chyn, who worked for many years in the testing industry and now tutors students in writing and English language arts, left the following comment after reading Russ Walsh’s review of the readability level of sample questions of the Common Core PARCC examination:

 

Reading level is but one issue. There are many other reasons to worry about PARCC, if the practice tests are representative of what the students of NJ will face in March. Having developed relatively rigorous tests at a standardized testing company for over 20 years, I am rather shocked by the quality of PARCC questions. Reading passages are presented out of context (i.e., no prefatory blurbs like “The Red Badge of Courage is a story about the Civil War,” easing test takers into the texts). The multiple-choice questions are often unclearly (ambiguously) worded; the intended answers, arbitrary. And my experience so far is that the A-B format, though trendy, leads kids to the very worst kind of back-and-forth second guessing. Suffice it to say, I have a queasy feeling about how the students I tutor (who run the gamut ELA skillwise) will fare. I hope I am wrong, but right now, I feel bad for the public school teachers, the parents and students who all will be judged by this very blunt instrument.