Monday, April 20, 2015

What's your plinth?

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The following quote was allegedly used in the New York State 6th grade Common Core ELA test, according to Valerie Strauss of The Washington Post (see here)
As a result, the location of the cloud is an important aspect, as it is the setting for his creation and art of the artwork.  In his favorite piece, Nimbus D’Aspremont, the architecture of the D’Aspremont-Lynden Castle in Rekem, Belgium, plays a significant role in the feel of the picture. “The contrast between the original castle and its former use as a military hospital and mental institution is still visible,” he writes. “You could say the spaces function as a plinth for the work.”
I copied this text and pasted it into Microsoft Word  so I could check some readability measures. Irs Flesch-Kincaid readability level is grade 11.0.

I took it to and received the following:
I was surprised at the 10.9 to 11.0 discrepancy of the Flesch-Kincaid rating, but noted that they all came in quite higher than the 6th grade level of the test.

Let me add a disclaimer: until I read Ms. Strauss' article, I can honestly say that the word "plinth" was not part of my vocabulary. I know that in the absence of a dictionary, the essence of this paragraph would have been totally lost to me. Were students allowed a dictionary during this test? I would hope that the skills we are allegedly teaching our youth include the basic skill of looking up a word of unknown meaning. So do they get dictionaries? Do you know?

The New York State Testing Grade 3-8 Common Core English Language Arts and Mathematics Tests School Administrator's Manual (that's a title!) states the following:
Bilingual Dictionaries and Glossaries——English language learners may use bilingual dictionaries and glossaries when taking the 2013 Grades 3–8 Common Core English Language Arts and Mathematics Tests. These bilingual dictionaries and glossaries may provide only direct translations of words. Bilingual dictionaries or glossaries that provide definitions or explanations of words are not permitted. 
I am extremely curious as to whether or not the "other" language edition's of this test used a word as exotic as "plinth", and, if so, were they translated by the accepted dictionaries and glossaries as "plinth".

This is just indicative of a poorly run and disastrously implemented testing program.

What is beginning to really annoy me is that the political climate of our culture is making it very very difficult to be in favor of outside assessments while being dead-set against what is currently being done.  The testing system being implemented just has to get tossed. It may be making a few people richer in the short run, but in the long run it will help impoverish our society and culture.

If you have read this far, you might be able to tell me why these tests are being given in April, two months before the end of the school year? Who made that call? I'll bet it was for the convenience of some corporation. 

Cuomo wants to these tests as 50% of teacher evaluations, while testing only 80% of the school year. That is weird. But consider the source.

The first step in fixing this fiasco must be to get Cuomo out of office, and then get rid of any and all politicos who signed off on this debacle.

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