Heidi Hayes Jacobs

President

Rye, NY

Interests: 21st century learning,...

  • Posted 1 Year ago
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Ephemeral, Aerogel, Plinth: 6th Grade Vocab on State Test

Let us peruse a list of words  featured on the recent sixth grade New York state exam:     

ephemeral 

aerogel

plinth

ominous situation 

paroxysm

clamorous

tutelage

furlong


absconders

surmised

Perhaps each of us should commit to using  these words today in our communications.  Surely one result would likely be alienation from our recepients. ( "Hey, how's your aerogel?")

Arguably there is universal admiration for a command of vocabulary, but the thought of eleven and twelve year olds wrestling with these words in a timed pressure cooker suggests an "ominous situation".      What were these test makers thinking?  Perhaps they yearn to design those  SAT exams for seniors.  The sobering fact that the results will have a direct impact on how a teacher is evaluated points to a profound disconnect.   However, there is one phrase used in one of  the test items that is telling: "transitory moment of presence in a distinct location".   Let us hope this is a transitory aberration.  

8 Comments

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16 Nov 15, 01:36 PM

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Rachel Rich

10 May 15, 12:44 PM

"Are You Smarter than a Fourth Grader" poses questions that challenge adults, because the kids had the advantage of recent exposure. But taking the current standardized tests is quite a different matter. Students are expected to do a cold reading without benefit of pre-instruction or dictionary. For that reason, I think it's only fair for adults to take the PARCC or Smarter Balanced - just to see what it's like for students faced with this ridiculous test.
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Aurelio Montemayor

29 Apr 15, 09:54 AM

There are millions of way for children to be introduced to words and enjoy expanding their inner dictionary. A test like this does the opposite and creates a deep fear of words not understood. Give me Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
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Heidi_Hayes_Jacobs

29 Apr 15, 01:27 PM

Great points, Aurelio. The "deep fear" you reference does make vocabulary intimidating and elite. Coupled with test pressure, we set learning backwards. No wonder the test-makers and state officials do NOT want to release the test items for scrutiny. Can you imagine what the third grade exam looked like?
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Pam_Vogel

24 Apr 15, 12:27 AM

I like Jay's and Mike's ideas. I think the NY State Board of Ed, legislators, and the Governor could make for a very comedic performance when they attempt to accurately define these vocabulary. Perhaps their terms will be ephemeral. We can only hope!
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Heidi_Hayes_Jacobs

26 Apr 15, 12:33 PM

Honestly, I would like Arne Duncan to defend these choices. Did anyone checked the Lexile levels? What I am sharing here is the tip of the testing industry iceberg.
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Jay_McTighe

21 Apr 15, 06:20 AM

I think we should ask the members of the NY State Board of Ed and the legislature to define these words in front of a live camera. I'd start with these: aerogel paroxysm absconders Jay McTighe
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Michael_Fisher

21 Apr 15, 07:29 AM

The governor should do this as well. Though I'm pretty sure his office is familiar with paroxysm and absconder.
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