Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:00
John Owens’ column reported the Board of Regents announced that on the upcoming April statewide tests, they’d take “10 minutes off the English exam.” Owens wrote, “Of course, in context, it’s not much. Our kids still can expect to sit through nearly three hours of testing.” He’s right, but I’d like to amend his “not much” to “too much: 10 minutes too much.” Because allowing kids to leave the testing room 10 minutes early will do more harm than good — and here’s why: I think the Board of Regents needs some Common Core courses intended to improve both critical thinking and problem-solving, given their foolish plan which stipulates that “students in grades 5-8 will be allowed to leave testing areas 10 minutes earlier on one day ... if everyone in the class completes the exam in less than the time allowed.”
Can you imagine the pointed stares and the pressure directed by every finished test-taker to the very last kid still working on his or her test during those last 10 minutes?
Well, this retired teacher can. It will make it very hard for the slow or super-conscientious student to continue concentrating on his test while knowing everyone wants him to close his booklet and hand it in — for their “freedom.” And If he does use every last minute, I hate to think about the comments and even bullying he might receive from some angry classmates. I think these Board of Regents “experts” should have been able to anticipate these potentailly negative outcomes for a ridiculously-negligible 10 minutes of “appeasement.” A better alternative would be to require all kids to remain in their seats until the very end of the time allowed; but be allowed to read at their desks.
Even if all kids finish early, it would be unwise to dismiss them; because this would tempt some kids to (unwisely, against their best interests) race through the test for this “reward.”