Stress test

New standardized tests have parents, educators worried about effects on students

Test time in Common Core

— South Colonie Central School District Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Timothy Backus said the amount of time a student must physically sit and take exams is concerning. Guilderland Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Demian Singleton shared Backus’ concern.

“The shift to Common Core based assessments alone will have an impact because we are really testing the test endurance of students,” Singleton said.

In 2011, English language arts (ELA) testing lasted two days for sixth through eighth graders, but now students are tested for longer periods on three days. The first day of testing in 2011 was 80 minutes, and the second day was 90 minutes. Testing will take place over 90 minutes on each day this year, for a total of 270 minutes.

For third- to fifth-grade ELA testing, the changes are more complicated. When compared to last year, third and fourth graders will spend less time in testing – 210 minutes versus 270 – while fifth graders will spend the same 270 minutes with tests (that’s up from 150 minutes in 2011).

When it comes to math, testing times are similar. This year, fifth to eighth graders will be tested for 270 minutes, and third and fourth graders will be tested at 210 and 230 minutes, respectively. That’s a decrease from 2012 standards for third- and fourth-graders, but up markedly from 2011 levels.

For some educators, no matter how these numbers might be fine tuned, they’re too large.

“I think the length of the exams is way too long for students. I don’t think they should be tested for three days,” said Jody Monroe, assistant superintendent for Educational Programs at Bethlehem Central School District. “I think assessing students in those areas were there is a common assessment across the state is fine, but I think the length of them is too much.”

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