At one protest soon after city students took this year’s state tests, parents, students, and teachers shouted, “Show us the test.”
Now, educators and parents looking to understand—or critique—New York’s state tests have about half of the questions to work with.
The State Education Department released questions from the 2014 state exams in reading and math on Wednesday, after coming under fire this year from parents and from educators who are asked not to discuss the test items. The state released 25 percent of the test questions last year.
“We’ve listened to New York State educators make the case that having more test questions available would benefit our kids so we’ve doubled the number and provided a thorough explanation for every student response,” State Education Commissioner John King said in a statement.
Educators have long called on the State Department of Education to release more test questions. In response, officials have said they would need funding to create and print more versions of the test. (In April, the state acknowledged that it planned to release “significantly more” questions this year.)
In the press release accompanying the released test items, the State Education Department said that it requested but did not receive additional funding from the state.
“I’d like to see the state put up the money to allow for that,” said Education Professor Aaron Pallas, who argued in Chalkbeat in 2013 that more questions should be released so that educators could publicly debate their quality. The more questions released the better, Pallas said, but “50 percent is clearly an improvement over last year.”
But Liz Phillips, the principal of P.S. 321 in Park Slope who has criticized the state tests, said that having only half of the questions is of limited use to teachers. The two questions that most concerned the reading teachers at her school back in May, when students took the test, aren’t included in the questions released today, she said.
“Now that I’ve seen that those two passages aren’t there, I just question how they’re picking the ones to share,” she said.
Educators, check out the test questions using the links below and let us know what you think in the comments or on Twitter @ChalkbeatNY.
English Language Arts