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Protests Planned Friday at Two Brooklyn Schools Over Latest Common Core Testing

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TWC News: Protests Planned Friday at Two Brooklyn Schools Over Latest Common Core Testing
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Protests are planned Friday at two Brooklyn schools over the latest round of Common Core testing. NY1's Michael Herzenberg spoke to teachers and parents at one of the schools and filed the following report.

Daniel Tyler-Zimmerman let loose Thursday after three stressful days of test-taking.

"It was really hard without without getting up, unless you really have to go to the bathroom," he said.

His mom said he handled it well. His third-grade teacher, Sara Greenfield, said some of his classmates didn't.

"I've had children break down crying because they're so frustrated by the tests," she said.

Greenfield said that's not normal at this extraordinary school. P.S. 321 in Park Slope is known for excellence.

"I've been teaching for 15 years, and this was testing, I'm not sure what," she said.

Third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students here Thursday finished the New York State English exam. Teachers called some of the content offensive.

"I feel a little bit like I'm putting my kids through child abuse because I can't protect them from any of it," Greenfield said.

Teachers also can't divulge specifics, but principal Liz Phillips said her teachers have never seen an ELA exam that does a worse job of testing reading comprehension.

She writes parents: "There was inappropriate content, many highly ambiguous questions, and a focus on structure rather than meaning of passages."

The complaints follow controversy surrounding the second year of the state's Common Core testing. A significant number of third- through eighth-grade parents had their kids opt out.

"I actually think tests are good. I just think this test is completely inaccurate," said third-grade teacher Sarah Leaman.

The teachers' frustration has some parents worried.

"It infuriates me," said one person. "It really infuriates me."

A spokesperson for the New York State Department of Education released a statement, which read, "The ELA assessments were developed, reviewed and edited by New York State teachers and then field tested with all students across the state. The tests measure the state's ELA learning standards for reading and writing and use passages from grade appropriate fiction and nonfiction."

Teachers countered with some examples, saying one passage used pronouns but never identified the subject. Another, they said, encouraged kids to keep secrets.

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