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Principal of Brooklyn school joins protesters in fight against Core tests

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PARK SLOPE, Brooklyn (PIX11) – A day after the English language arts portion of the Common Core tests wrapped up, the principal of P.S. 321 in Park Slope joined angry and frustrated parents and teachers in a protest against the statewide exams which are taken by third through eighth graders.

“I do believe any parent or person who works with children, who saw this test, would be absolutely shocked,” said Principal Liz Phillips.  “There was absolutely nothing about reading comprehension.  There was a tremendous amount of ambiguous questions, material that was not appropriate for third  graders and it’s not going to measure how kids are actually reading.”

David Cole, a fifth grader, struggled through it.

“Some of the questions didn’t really make sense.  I didn’t really know what to put,” he said.

David’s dad is among many parents who complain that too much time is spent on test prep at the expense of learning.  Robert Cole says perhaps he should have joined thousands of others across the state who opted their kids out.

standardized tests

“In hindsight, absolutely, I probably would have opted him out,” said Robert Cole. “But at the same time there’s a lot of pressure on these kids to get into a good middle school.”

And there’s also a lot of pressure on teachers whose annual evaluations are based to a large extent on the students’ test scores.

Supporters of Core testing say the goal is to teach children to reason rather than memorize.  Former Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott touted the virtues of the tests, which are given to students in third through eighth grade, on Friday’s PIX 11 Morning News.

“I think it’s important for children to be tested in a more rigorous way, and for parents to support their children.  And I think you’ll see performance improve in the long run,” said Walcott.

Students are now gearing up for the next and final round of tests:  solving math problems over three days beginning April 30.