File this story under: "Can the NYC DOE Do Anything Right?"
More in New York City Qualify as Gifted After Error Is Fixed
‘Sneak peek’ schools furor
- Last Updated: 9:11 AM, April 19, 2013
- Posted: 1:21 AM, April 19, 2013
Some reading passages on this week’s state exams came straight out of a school curriculum produced by the test-maker — giving schools that bought those materials a leg up, teachers and parents said yesterday.
The rehashing of essays for students in Grades 6 and 8 was discovered on English exams created by Pearson, which in 2010 was awarded a five-year, $32 million state contract.
The firm publishes curriculum material aligned with higher standards recently embraced by New York and 45 other states — known as Common Core — and which has been used by schools in parts of the state.
“The state should be obligated to throw out every item on the exams based on passages in Pearson textbooks assigned elsewhere in the state.”
Educators also complained that the double-dipping would put pressure on districts to purchase Pearson’s curriculum if they want to boost their students’ chances of acing the exams.
Officials at the firm said the inclusion of essays from their curriculum material was an “unintentional” consequence of the state’s emphasis on using nonfiction texts in the exams.
“The process for selecting test material is separate from creating textbooks,” said Pearson director of communications Stacy Skelly.
“The Pearson content developers who work on the [state] assessment contract do not work to develop curriculum for other divisions of Pearson.”
Skelly added that the questions following the essays were newly created for the exams.
State Education Department officials similarly attributed the repetition to a heavier reliance on real-world texts in both curriculum and state assessments.
They also cautioned that passages from controversial texts — such as Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” — were likely to make their way into the exams at some point.
“The alternative would be to exclude many authors and texts that are capable of supporting the rigorous analysis called for by the Common Core,” said department spokesman Tom Dunn.
Students have completed all three days of testing in English, with three days of math exams set for next week.