Can your 8 year old read 300 words per minute? Mine can’t. In fact, I don’t know anyone who can. Yet, that is exactly what Common Core state tests require.
In looking through samples of Common Core state tests on engageNY for third graders, I find myself once again puzzled by what they are asking our children to do.
The typical Common Core passage is 600 words in length. During the first day, (of a 3 day test) students are required to read a minimum of 5 passages and answer 30 questions. Students have 70 minutes to complete day one of the test.
If a student spends only 1 minute reading and analyzing each of the 30 questions, they will have to read passages that are 2-3 years above grade level at a pace of 75 words per minute. Some would argue that is not too difficult a task and at first glance, I might agree.
However, when we look at what the questions are asking students to do, I doubt any 8 year old can read and analyze these questions to the extent Common Core demands in only 1 minute. This is the guidance to answering questions offered on engageNY:
Many of the questions on the 2015 Grade 3 Common Core English Language Arts Test are more advanced and complex than those found on prior assessments that measured prior grade-level standards. Answer choices will not jump out; rather, students will need to make hard choices between “fully correct” and “plausible but incorrect” answers that are designed specifically to determine whether students have comprehended the entire passage and are proficient with the deep analyses specified by the standards.
To answer ELA questions correctly, students will need to read and analyze each passage completely and closely, and be prepared to carefully consider responses to multiple-choice questions.
And now look at the directions given to students during the test and ask yourself, can an 8 year old do all of this in one minute?
Most questions will make sense only when you read the whole passage. You may read the passage more than once to answer a question. When a question includes a quotation from a passage, be sure to keep in mind what you learned from reading the whole passage. You may need to review both the quotation and the passage in order to answer the question correctly.
Let’s just say 8 year olds were to use two minutes to read and analyze the questions, they will have to read the passages at a warped-speed rate of 300 words per minute just to finish the test.