ELA Test: A Little Less Cause for Panic

12 Mar
Punxsutawney Phil headshot


In Spring the weather grows nicer, but school becomes meaner. This is no fault of nature’s, though you can’t be blamed for  believing that it is. It is ELA test prep season — without even a prediction from Punxsutawney Phil as to how severe it might be.


This year there’s no clock. 

The learning, such as it is, from here on out will be much devoted to drills on how to take a test. But from a writing standpoint, there is a bit of good news this year: the test will not be timed, and students can take as long to finish as they need. This means they can slow down.

This bow by the state to popular demand (by educators from Montauk to Buffalo) is especially helpful for the essay on the exam for grades 6-8. It is not called an essay, on a exam that is testing for clarity of thought and presentation; rather it is the Extended-Response question, Writing from Sources. Here is how the official Educator’s Guide describes the task and its goals:

Within the Common Core, writing does not take place in a vacuum. To be college and career ready, one must be able to write for a purpose using information from textual sources. Extended- response questions on the 2016 Common Core English Language Arts Tests will ask students to analyze texts and address meaningful questions using strategic, textual details.

And here are the criteria by which they will measure the extension of your child’s response:

Content and Analysis — the extent to which the essay conveys complex ideas and information clearly and accurately in order to support claims in an analysis of topics or texts

Command of Evidence — the extent to which the essay presents evidence from the provided texts to support analysis and reflection

Coherence, Organization, and Style — the extent to which the essay logically organizes complex ideas, concepts, and information using formal style and precise language

Control of Conventions — the extent to which the essay demonstrates command of the conventions of standard English grammar, usage, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling

The Educator Guides to the 2016 Grades 3-8 Common Core English Language Arts and Mathematics Tests are available at this link:

NYState common core materials Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 5.03.03 PM


I will share some thoughts shortly on strategies. Slowing Down is number one, two and three.



One Response to “ELA Test: A Little Less Cause for Panic”

  1. LDS-HOMESCHOOL-MOM at 5:46 am #

    I am sad for anyone who has to look at Spring as “study for tests” time. I homeschool my kids and this is not “study for tests” time. Mynkids have started riding bikes. We are preparing things for the garden. We continue to do our studies. We love life and life is happy and joyful. I wish it were so for everyone!

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