Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Revamped English Regents test is easier?

The 2011 New York English Regents exam that students took in January was downsized.
Kids who hate to write must love the new English Regents test.
For the first time in 12 years, New York high-school students last week took a new English exam, which was slashed from two days to one, six hours to three -- and four essays to one.
Some students and teachers think the abbreviated version is a breeze next to the old one.
"It's a lot easier -- there's only one essay!" a teen told one teacher who proctored the exam.
The test downsizing comes on the heels of tougher statewide math and English tests for grades 3 through 8 -- a crackdown Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch called "setting the bar higher."
But a veteran English teacher called the slimmer Regents exam "a joke."
"This is not raising the bar. It's dumbing it down," she said. "I think it's easier to pass now. They're not going to make as many mistakes."...
State Education Commissioner David Steiner insists the new exam, when scored, will be "just as rigorous" as the one it replaced, which was launched in 1999 to raise graduation standards.
The state says it trimmed the only Regents test that took two days because school districts, including New York City's, griped it was a logistical "hardship." Three times, they said, bad weather forced kids who missed the second day to finish months later on the next testing date.
The new test has 25 multiple-choice questions, one less. It also replaces three essays, including ones that focused on nonfiction, with two short written answers requiring "a well-developed paragraph."
Tuesday's essay question asked pupils to relate two works of literature they have read to a quote by Helen Keller: "Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it."
Experts say test length matters -- it usually boosts reliability.
One English teacher thinks the "Grade 8 ELA Exam is harder" than the revamped Regents.
No English teacher with whom I've spoken thinks that this new test is in any way an improvement towards making the tests more rigorous and demanding to encourage kids to reach higher standards. It's hard not to see the current test as pretty dumbed-down.
But the final scores will depend on how the "testing gnomes" in Albany "norm it and curve it"

I'm not sure when results will be available, but I believe it will be at the end of the school year. 

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