So this is what we've come to-- it's an act of brave rebellion, a risk to career and liveihood, to publish some questions from PARCC's Big Standardized Test.
At Outrage on the Page, an anonymous teacher has taken the what-shouldn't-be-dangerous step of publishing actual questions from the fourth grade PARCC. This is a dangerous move because, of course, we are all sworn to secrecy about our BS Tests. In PA I must swear that I won't look at the test, and if I do, I will promptly forget everything I see there. We've known for a while that Pearson has a security team that monitors social media for any student security breaches. Because at the end of the day, BS Test manufacturers are more worried about their proprietary money-making property than they are about making a good test or providing real test results.
You know what kind of test needs this sort of heavy security? A crappy test.
That is confirmed by the anonymous post, which simply puts in the sunlight what teachers who deal with this steaming heap of BS Testocracy already know. I recommend that you go read the post in its entirety-- and more importantly, share it with your friends who aren't teachers-- but here's a taste.
Here's one of the prompts.
[Okay, here it isn't. The single prompt apparently put this blog post on the "naughty" list, and blogger flipped a switch and put the post back to "draft" status. So I'm redacting the prompt for the time being so that the post doesn't remain a ghost and folks can see what has happened.
The prompt was based on the short story "Sadako's Secret" and asked the student to extrapolate a sequel of sorts in which the student tells the story of what would happen in the year after the story events, including the possible tryout of the main character for the junior high track team. ]
The teacher correctly points out that this corresponds to exactly none of the Common Core State[sic] Standards. But when I look at that, I also wonder-- exactly how is that prompt going to be scored? It is a BS Test triple whammy-- it assumes first that there is only one correct way to read the story, then it assumes that there is only one correct way to write about the story, and then, on top of that, it masquerades as a creative opinion question, the kind of question about which students would (correctly) say, "Well, I can't get this wrong because it's what I think."
This is what test prep is about. Teaching students to understand that in testing situations, it's never about what they think or feel or imagine. The first step in responding to this prompt is not to ask, "Well, what do I think would happen next year." As always, the first step is to ask, "Well, what do they want me to say?"
Also, as anonymous teacher points out, exactly how does a fourth grader relate to the experience of trying out for a junior high track team.
Check out the post for other equally terrible testing moments from the PARCC. And marvel that we live in a world where simply publishing PARCC questions qualifies as an act of bravery.
UPDATE: I found another post this morning that uses the novel method of an intra-state leak, and so is partnered with the post above. The reporting of PARCC questions is even more damning and detailed. Don't miss this one-- and again, make sure to pass it on to your non-teacher friends who imagine that a Big Standardized Test must be legit.
UPDATE: Well, PARCC is slightly less revealed. The writer at Outrage has removed the excerpts from the test under legal threat by PARCC. The second post (from the first update) at kavips is still up, but we'll see how long that lasts. I've copied it, which is what I should have done with the first one. Meanwhile, it appears that everybody who ever posted a link to the "Outrage" post was DMCA'ed on twitter. Way to go, PARCC police. That notice, incidentally, courtesy of the following:
DMCA Takedown Notice
== Copyright owner: Laura Slover
== Name: Kevin Michael Days
== Company: PARCC Inc.
== Job title: Assoicate Director, Operations
== Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
== Address: 1747 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, 6th Floor
== City: Washington
== State/Province: District of Columbia
== Postal code: 20006
== Country: United States
== Phone (optional): 2027488077
== Fax (optional): n/a