By: Dan Lupkin
Special Education Teacher/ UFT Delegate
P.S. 58, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
My students did not take the news about the Performance Assessment well. In fact, it was kind of a wrenching experience- their faces could not have been more pained if I had run over their dogs. I told them that it would not count on their report cards, that it would not affect their middle school prospects, and that if they did their best, I would be proud of them. Still, there was a lot of anxiety, and an unplanned Q & A session that went well beyond morning meeting time. I didn’t want to scare them, but nor did I want to lie, and there is no getting around the nature of what they would be asked to do. I got questions like “can I ask for help with hard words?” and “what if I don’t know what to write?” that I had no reassuring answers for.
The Performance Assessments thrust upon nearly all students in certain grades and selected students in others are similar to what my kids dealt with on last year’s New York State Common Core tests. Two complex texts, and a prompt calling upon my students to synthesize both texts into an essay. I am called upon to turn off all my training and experience and pretend that these are tasks at which my students can realistically be expected to succeed.