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Perhaps they should also remove the word “education”

Because someone doesn’t understand the word. The New York City Department of Education wants to ban the use of certain words on standardized tests — because they might make students feel uncomfortable or unpleasant. Jebus. If an educator isn’t making a student uncomfortable, isn’t pushing his or her students to be stressed by new concepts and difficult processes, they aren’t doing their job.

What words, you might ask, are they sheltering impressionable youth from?

Abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological)
Alcohol (beer and liquor), tobacco, or drugs
Birthday celebrations (and birthdays)
Bodily functions
Cancer (and other diseases)
Catastrophes/disasters (tsunamis and hurricanes)
Celebrities
Children dealing with serious issues
Cigarettes (and other smoking paraphernalia)
Computers in the home (acceptable in a school or library setting)
Crime
Death and disease
Divorce
Evolution
Expensive gifts, vacations, and prizes
Gambling involving money
Halloween
Homelessness
Homes with swimming pools
Hunting
Junk food
In-depth discussions of sports that require prior knowledge
Loss of employment
Nuclear weapons
Occult topics (i.e. fortune-telling)
Parapsychology
Politics
Pornography
Poverty
Rap Music
Religion
Religious holidays and festivals (including but not limited to Christmas, Yom Kippur, and Ramadan)
Rock-and-Roll music
Running away
Sex
Slavery
Terrorism
Television and video games (excessive use)
Traumatic material (including material that may be particularly upsetting such as animal shelters)
Vermin (rats and roaches)
Violence
War and bloodshed
Weapons (guns, knives, etc.)
Witchcraft, sorcery, etc.

If you really want to make high schoolers uncomfortable, how about “algebra” and “molecules” and…and…homework?

Removing any mention of the word “evolution” from the curriculum rather effectively decapitates the teaching of biology; “celebrities”, not so much, but it’s bizarre that they put that word on a par with “slavery”. How do they talk about American history without mentioning slavery?

Comments

  1. magistramarla says

    Wow, I used to teach Latin, and there are several words on that list that I would have found it very difficult to avoid.

  2. says

    So you shouldn’t, for example have “Expensive gifts, vacations, and prizes” but you can have “Costly presents, holidays and awards”??
    Or am I missing something

    :-)

  3. Muse says

    Generally things like this are not used unless they are needed for the specific content being tested – so you can test slavery, you just can’t use it in an unrelated question. I don’t work in NY so I can’t say that’s what is going on here, but that’s standard practice in the industry. The idea behind it is you want to test what the kid knows and can do, you don’t want any other effects from a kid’s emotional reaction.

  4. Sili says

    How do they talk about American history without mentioning slavery?

    It’s a Biblical relationship. Perfectly inoffensive.

  5. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    So, I guess they won’t be teaching history or any kind of science in school anymore, then?

    I guess there won’t be much left on the list of required reading either. Just imagine some poor high schooler reading Camus and getting traumatized for life.

  6. consciousness razor says

    How the fuck do people come up with this shit? I’m going to find some homeless rap musicians (those with bodily functions?) who are opposed to violence and nuclear weapons. There’s probably some next door. We’ll all spend the day eating junk food and practicing sorcery in front of some schoolchildren. I can’t guarantee that they will learn anything, but we will try our hardest to make them uncomfortable.

  7. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    Oh, I misread, it’s just about standardized test. Still, posing questions about important works of literature might prove difficult without being able to use words on the list.

  8. Pierce R. Butler says

    And some of you gawdless liberals still say there is no war on Christmas!!!1!

    /snark

  9. alexanishenko says

    They should ban passing grades. You know, because some students don’t get any, and they will be offended.

    Also, on the linked page someone in comments suggested banning English out of respect to immigrants. As an immigrant in process of naturalization, I wholly second that move :-P

  10. Ichthyic says

    Note what Muse said above, and the fact, as mentioned in the article, that this is about the language used for questions on state standardized tests. It is really not about class curricula.

  11. kaylaknopp says

    Whoa, whoa, this is just referring to removing these words from standardized tests, not from the curriculum entirely. Let’s actually read the source material before unleashing the angry mob. The list does seem a bit pearl-clutchy to me, but in principle I think it’s totally reasonable to try to make standardized tests as bland as possible. You’re more likely to get an accurate assessment if kids’ anxiety is low during testing.

  12. MetzO'Magic says

    I tried to post something meaningful without using any of the banned words. How did I do?

  13. Rip Steakface says

    I fail to see how mentioning “Rock-and-Roll Music” might cause emotional trauma to anyone. Maybe the shock of hearing something as good as The Who after listening to nothing but shitty pop their entire life would cause someone to go into angry fits?

  14. New England Bob says

    I suggest they also ban the letters S, V, U, W and A from use by teachers since these are the letters that *could* cause stress.

    Are they fucking insane????

  15. Louis says

    The ban I needed at school was a muppet ban. I.e. only allow my friends in.

    Actually, if that had been the case, school would have been brilliant. Lots of aspects of it were brilliant, but a lark with all my buddies and no muppets? Sounds good to me.

    Louis

  16. maureenbrian says

    So are you happy, kaylaknopp, for the ones with three or more brain cells to fall asleep and lose all respect for their teachers – both because of the test?

  17. psocoptera says

    I took a standardized test in Virginia with an excerpt from “A White Rose for Emily.” I guess necrophilia wasn’t considered inappropriate, because they didn’t expect us to recognize the source. Actually, I can’t remember why I read that story, considering my relationship with the works of Falkner… Don’t think it influenced my test taking any.

  18. sqlrob says

    Note what Muse said above, and the fact, as mentioned in the article, that this is about the language used for questions on state standardized tests.

    There is a state standardized Biology test.

  19. says

    As an assessment professional, I’d like to weigh in here. I don’t know much about New York testing, but many of the projects I work on have a list like this.

    It greatly depends on the state as to how it is interpreted. In some states, that list is the final word. Any items with those words are rejected. It’s possible to find work-arounds though. You don’t explicitly say ‘evolution’, but you can describe it… and ‘natural selection’ and ‘common descent’ aren’t on the list. If those are a part of the standards, then a test developer has to include them somehow.

    In other states, that list is a guideline. If the concept is directly relevant to the content area, then it’ll be OK to talk about it. (e.g. evolution on a biology test or slavery on a social studies test, but slavery on a biology test would not be allowed).

    Speaking as a science content specialist for a major assessment company, I can tell you that we push as hard as we can for all science to be included on all tests and we do not allow pseudoscience or myths onto them.

    Most states seem to be heading toward adopting the Common Core and the similar K-12 Science Frameworks for both curriculum and standardized assessments.

    I’ll be happy to try and answer any questions you guys have about standardized assessments, if I can.

  20. consciousness razor says

    Oh, right, just test. No big deal. Let’s not test students about any of that. It could be unpleasant.

  21. says

    Poor creatures…They haven’t learned yet that the interwebs are going to destroy them. We’re in attack mode these days. Take no prisoners!

  22. redpanda says

    Wow, this is crazy. Do people not realize that adolescence is about learning to become an adult? How are you supposed to learn how to deal with adult problems in a world run by adults if you aren’t even exposed to the vocabulary?Kids are much more resilient than we often give them credit for. This sort of approach reminds me of the Amish, who deny their children any significant education beyond elementary school before dumping them out on the street to watch them fail and come crawling home. I wonder if similar motivations are at work here?Isn’t the entire purpose of public education to prepare children to grow into productive, contributing members of society?

  23. says

    Don’t these people have better things to do, like say, running a department?

    Or am I to learn the the education budget in New York is so bad, that they had to lay off words to save money.

  24. says

    Generally things like this are not used unless they are needed for the specific content being tested – so you can test slavery, you just can’t use it in an unrelated question. I don’t work in NY so I can’t say that’s what is going on here, but that’s standard practice in the industry. The idea behind it is you want to test what the kid knows and can do, you don’t want any other effects from a kid’s emotional reaction.

    Okay, fair enough for the serious stuff, but some of the weird ones remain weird. Video games (but only in excess)? Computer use in the home?

  25. says

    “See Dick Richard run! Run, Dick Richard, run!

    See Spot chase the ball lay in the sun. Lay, Spot, lay!

    See Sally wearing Father’s tie in her new pinafore! Funny, funny Sally!

    Unless complete idiots were writing the tests to begin with, I fail to see how there could possibly be an issue with all of those words or concepts. Yeah, if one of the math questions started out: James and Fred went hunting and gut-shot a doe carrying a fawn. They tracked her blood for 3 miles until they lost the trail…, then I could see how there might be some backlash. Realistically, I’m doubting that was the case.

  26. sparks says

    Clearly edumacation is a bad thing as it leads to independent thought, and we can’t have that here in 2012 now can we? Soon as the little darlings pop out of mom’s womb, shuffle ‘em off to the artificial incubator and hook ‘em up that the 1 percenters might feed on them at leisure.

    Remember: Tuesday is Soylent Green day.

  27. says

    Okay, fair enough for the serious stuff, but some of the weird ones remain weird. Video games (but only in excess)? Computer use in the home?

    There are a couple of issues here, the most important being socioeconomic bias. I can’t ask a question about yachting, because not every kid has a yacht. So we don’t want to give students that are in a higher socioeconomic class an advantage on the test.

    It can also affect anxiety, and in teenagers, that can be a big deal. Not for all, but for enough. We don’t say things like “Mark’s grandmother died of Leukemia. Leukemia is a form of which disease?”

    The first bit it unnecessary, and for a kid who recently lost a grandparent, can bring up a lot of crap that’s going to screw up the test results. We don’t want a kid saying “Crap, I didn’t get a playstation this year because my dad got laid off.” and then he’s off thinking about issues instead of testing. We try to avoid things like that… not that we always succeed. And don’t get me started on rock-n-roll.

    BTW: Each item (question) has a ton of data associated with it. We can analyze how every gender, race, and socioeconomic status did on the item during field testing. Those that show too much bias are rejected out of hand. Unless girls did better than boys, that’s OK… for some reason (again depending on the project).

    But yeah, the actual data generated by these tests is absolutely stunning. That’s why we have an entire division that does nothing but statistical analysis of test results.

  28. varys says

    How can you have a standardized test on these subjects if the words are banned? This is crazy.

  29. carlie says

    ogremk5 just said everything I was going to say first.

    So, yeah. What they said.

    Standardized tests are really skewed for socioeconomic status, and always have been. That’s one of the big areas they SHOULD be focusing on, how to get that crap out of the questions. And the more we learn about emotional states, that needs to be accounted for as well. A story about abuse isn’t going to go over well on a kid who gets abused every day at home, and their test performance will suffer because of it. Some of the terms seem like overkill, but really, what use are standardized tests anyway except for testing rote skills and minimal critical thinking? That can easily be done with questions that aren’t trying to be cool and edgy and all “meaningful”. Whatever makes the most even playing field for the hundreds of thousands of students taking the test is better for them.

  30. Muse says

    Ogremk5 – FWIW the company with which I am familiar still flags if girls do better than boys and they get tossed.

    rutee

    Okay, fair enough for the serious stuff, but some of the weird ones remain weird. Video games (but only in excess)? Computer use in the home?

    That’s a socioeconomic status one.

  31. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    It can also affect anxiety, and in teenagers, that can be a big deal. Not for all, but for enough. We don’t say things like “Mark’s grandmother died of Leukemia. Leukemia is a form of which disease?”

    We don’t say that because it would be an asshole move and also because persons who wrote the standardized test probably don’t know that Mark’s grandmother died of Leukemia. Or who Mark is. Or how many Marks are going to do that test.
    But it’s kinda supposed to test knowledge, unless I got something seriously wrong about education in US.

  32. says

    A lot of these things come out of a concern for making the test equally accessible to kids from disadvantaged classes, especially the poor and ethnic minorities. This is a *good* thing. In the past, testers just assumed everyone was well-off and had the same experience, so when kids did poorly it enforced the idea that those kids were slower rather than just coming from a different background. This actually happened to a friend of mine whose parents were immigrants. She failed to understand a number of questions on a standardised test. She was shy, so couldn’t really explain what was going on. The parents didn’t want to rock the boat (I guess), and she ended up in classes for kids with, what today would be called learning disabilities. It affected her all through school and her self-esteem was still in the basement when I met her in her first year of university.

    There are a few things on that list that don’t belong there (i.e. evolution), but the list itself? Sounds fine to me. No specialised knowledge necessary, no priming a kid to feel bad because they don’t have advantages that are supposedly normal, no triggers to traumatic experiences they or their families may have gone through, etc. In a non-test setting, teachers and counsellors can work with kids that have issues relating to course material.

  33. Pteryxx says

    I’m more worried about the overlap of banning certain terms on standardized tests with the emphasis on “teaching to the test” in far too many schools. Isn’t the effect of banning words like “slavery” and “evolution”, even if “just” on the tests, going to be chilling the climate for teaching the topics related to those words?

  34. Randomfactor says

    I wonder how much of this harkens back to the days when “standardized” IQ tests subtracted points from minority/poor students for not knowing what various pieces of sports equipment, for example tennis racquets and golf clubs, might be used for.

  35. carlie says

    But it’s kinda supposed to test knowledge, unless I got something seriously wrong about education in US.

    Depends on the test, actually. The SAT supposedly doesn’t test actual subject area knowledge, but more generally thinking skills (as opposed to the ACT, which is all about area knowledge). Of course, this is garbage, because it tests vocabulary and maths and how-well-you-take-tests, but that’s what they say.

  36. says

    Muse,

    I think my company would prefer to toss those items, but one particular client says that it’s OK. It has to go through their TAC, so they can deal with it.

    One nice thing is that my current project (a national one) is going full bore on the science. I was told that if it’s scientifically accurate, then it’s fair game. We can’t use hard core science (like biochem or organic chem), but our standards are based on the K-12 framework and we can do whatever we want in there. BWAH HAH HAAAA

    There’s something else which is interesting. We have one client that has a large Native American population and they require that we not use certain animal species in the items because of NA beliefs (snakes, owls, crows, etc). Another client also has a large NA population, but they ignore it.

    The question is, which is doing the right thing? If students really are affected by that, then we should reduce or eliminate use of those animals to prevent emotional disturbances from influencing test results. On the other hand, we (meaning educational systems) do have a responsibility to teach students about the real world and that they can’t just ignore things that may upset them. They actually have to learn to deal.

    This regardless of the truth of the belief. The fact that the belief exists is enough change student results… maybe.

  37. says

    Am I overlooking something or do they really not have “homosexuality” or “gay” or “gender” or any other words like that on the list, which would make me slightly amazed?

  38. says

    So what the hell are our kids supposed to learn about if we completely censor things that might make them uncomfortable? I also notice that the word religion is on the list. As an atheist, that bothers me. How the hell are we to teach our children about world history without talking about (the evils) of religion?

  39. Thomathy, Holy Trinity of Conflation: Atheist-Secularist-Darwinist says

    What ogremk5 and Carlie and others have said.

    I’d like to point out that this thread is turning out to be a perfect example of why sometimes comment sections should be read before posting. For the people who have obviously not done that, I suggest that you open your mouths and, in whatever way is easiest, put one of your feet in it.

  40. says

    I’d like to add (then I’ll shut up) is that I’m working on some research to use standardized test data to actually figure out what a student’s area of need is and develop customized tutorials for that student.

    This is what the test SHOULD be for. However, it really isn’t. If a kid gets a genetics question wrong, we really don’t know if they don’t know genetics, don’t know probability, or don’t know how to read. We’re working on some systems that can help us answer these questions.

    It sounds corny, but my personal goal is to radically change how education in the US is done. We’re missing a lot of opportunities and we’re trying to shoehorn every kid into the same box. It’s not working. The smartest kids don’t get the constant challenge that they need and the slowest kids don’t get the personalized attention that they need.

  41. A. Noyd says

    “In-depth discussions of sports that require prior knowledge” sticks out to me because that one entry, out of the entire list, is specifically talking about disadvantage to certain students who might lack sports knowledge due to disinterest or cultural differences. If the whole list was explicitly about minimizing reliance on knowledge that students have unequal access to, that would be one thing. But this is about what students could find “upsetting” at mere mention, which is bullshit. Now, if they wanted to talk about a ban on topics that could be triggering to abuse victims, that would be reasonable. And maybe that’s some of what prompted the creation of the list. But worrying about mention of things like “celebrities,” “junk food,” “religious holidays” and “evolution” makes a mockery of genuine trauma.

  42. Muse says

    Ogremk5 – I shall refrain from speculating for whom you work :)

    But it’s awesome that you’re working seriously on science. The company with which I am familiar has clients who are good about it, and some who are not so.

    Regarding the NA one – it’s possible that you’ve got a cultural difference going on – ie less of an issue with one population of native folk than another. That or your fairness committees’ care more in one state.

    All – no one is saying that teachers can’t teach about it. They are saying that we should avoid affecting the way the kids tests.

    That said I think having evolution on the list is so far off base as to be on the moon.

  43. carlie says

    On the other hand, we (meaning educational systems) do have a responsibility to teach students about the real world and that they can’t just ignore things that may upset them. They actually have to learn to deal.

    So what the hell are our kids supposed to learn about if we completely censor things that might make them uncomfortable?

    But this is about a standardized test, not about any curriculum. I think Pteryxx’s point about teaching to the test is valid, but the test itself doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the curricula. For instance, on an English test, a student would have to read and analyze an unfamiliar passage. The content of the passage on the test doesn’t have anything to do with the curriculum. For example, if it happens to be a rape scene from some gritty realistic novel, that might have a big negative effect on the test performance of some people taking it. If the same novel was part of a classroom assignment, a good teacher would notice the distress of the student and be able to hopefully steer them towards some actual help.

  44. Taz says

    Forget “evolution”, they want to ban “dinosaur”.

    The word “dinosaur” made the hit list because dinosaurs suggest evolution which creationists might not like, WCBS 880′s Marla Diamond reported.

  45. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Rap and rock ‘n roll are banned but country is allowed to be mentioned. Someone must be a Taylor Swift fan.

  46. says

    carlie,

    I have to disagree… at least on the tests I do. Science, and social studies (and math to a point) are really content based tests rather than skill based, like literacy.

    Our client gives us the standards that we are to write items to. Then we develop items to those standards. Ideally, those are the exact same standards that the curriculum is based on.

    You can get the standards for any state and a couple of others just by visiting a website or two.

    The tests are developed according to a blueprint, which is approved by the client, that has minimum numbers of items from each standard or group of standard.

    As an aside, I had a college professor that wanted us to read porn novels because of the descriptive text. That would have been upsetting to a large chunk of the class. And it wasn’t necessary because there are non-controversial texts that have equally good descriptive passages.

    If the kids want to read porn novels, that’s there business, but it’s not the school’s place to encourage it. And that applies to a lot of things.

  47. joed says

    they fergot a few;
    George Carlin
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6FFzChmU0s
    shit
    piss
    fuck
    cunt
    cocksucker
    motherfucker
    tits??
    Education is doomed.
    if you have any knowledge that is worth conveying to younger folks then try to set up a free “campus” in your area. Shouldn’t be a hassle, might be important and fun.
    The bad guys won and there is no going back.

  48. says

    Some of the items I understand. Along with the demographic biases some questions may have, there’s a real concern that some questions could be flashback triggers for kids with PTSD. Sexual/physical/emotional abuse, poverty, natural or man-made disasters, and violence all have the potential to be triggers; if the test isn’t actually about those subjects (which I presume none of them are), the test’s creators should avoid them.

    That said, I can’t figure out why they’d ban “dinosaur” or “witchcraft.”

  49. says

    Even if it’s just on the tests, this list is ridiculous. I mean slavery and violence where there, you know, throughout human history, so you can’t do a test on that? You can’t have a test on evolution? What?!
    Also, we should be working towards a world where people don’t get all crazy about stuff like evolution or dinosaur anymore. Banning these words from whatever, wheter it’s a curriculum, just a test or cartoons, because some people might be uncomfortable with these words, isn’t helping.
    Also, what Pteryxx said!

  50. says

    Even if it’s just on the tests, this list is ridiculous. I mean slavery and violence where there, you know, throughout human history, so you can’t do a test on that? You can’t have a test on evolution? What?!

    If slavery isn’t actually relevant to what the test is on, why use it? “What was the primary factor of the US Civil War?” can talk about slavery. Not random questions on a math exam. At least, that’s what I’m taking from the folks posting on this.

    Also, we should be working towards a world

    We ain’t there yet. Let’s take evolution – sure, it should be accepted. But right now we’re dealing with a population of 30% numskulls, most of whom are that way because of their parents, at the end of the day. Should we penalize their science scores for not knowing it? Absolutely. Do we really need to penalize say, Literature for it?

  51. anotheratheist says

    I don’t know what you are complaining about PZ. It’s the feminists and their trigger warnings that are responsible for such lists. And as a staunch feminist you should be proud of that list.

  52. consciousness razor says

    Rap and rock ‘n roll are banned but country is allowed to be mentioned. Someone must be a Taylor Swift fan.

    No kidding. Why limit it to specifically those genres, as opposed to thousands of others? How did they figure out that, say, mentioning classical or jazz doesn’t make some students feel “unpleasant” or put them at a disadvantage? Other ways of knowing?

    It looks more like fainting-couch material to me. Rock (which as everyone knows is satanic; see: witchcraft) and rap (which of course is not music, but about those terribly dark-skinned gangsters; see: violence) couldn’t possibly be legitimate material on a respectable test like this. Heavens, no, we don’t want to test students about those. Just like their tests shouldn’t mention naughty things like dancing, except for ballet; and I’m sure everyone identifies with ballet and loves it just as much as I do.

  53. says

    I don’t know what you are complaining about PZ. It’s the feminists and their trigger warnings that are responsible for such lists. And as a staunch feminist you should be proud of that list.

    I love it when you antifeminist jackasses use us as a boogeyman; have some sense in your senselessness. Did you see sexual violence there with a specific tag? Harrassment? No. The correct contentless insult is “PC Police” or similar.

  54. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    If slavery isn’t actually relevant to what the test is on, why use it? “What was the primary factor of the US Civil War?” can talk about slavery. Not random questions on a math exam. At least, that’s what I’m taking from the folks posting on this.

    OK, I get that.
    But the paper makes it sound like those words will be banned in the whole test. That’s the confusing part. Along with some things on the list that sound like pure pearl clutching.

  55. says

    But the paper makes it sound like those words will be banned in the whole test.

    Meriken reporting sucks. Film at 11

    Seriously, how many times has bad science reporting alone been covered here? This seems a lot more like that than it might immediately appear.

    (Read ogremk5 and Muse’s posts)

  56. psocoptera says

    The concerns about slavery as a topic may be linked to the studies that show that when you remind people about their minority status (or female gender) before they take a test, their performance declines. I think the studies were done on the GRE and specifically showed that people performed in a way that mapped onto stereotypes (women did worse in math, ect). Been a while since I read those articles, though.

  57. Kagehi says

    How do they talk about American history without mentioning slavery?

    Haven’t been paying attention have we. You replace it with “economics”. It was “economics” that was the main reason for the civil war, not slavery (you know, because not mentioning that the southern economy was totally dependent on the no-no word is really possible, unless you are a southern politician, or school board…)

  58. James C. says

    The intent here is clearly to reduce triggering language, but anyone who’s lurked for any length of time knows, Intent Is Not Magic, and this winds up being a bit draconian and hard-to-interpret, or so it seems.

    But I can see the reasoning behind avoiding evolution and dinosaurs. Creationists can be fucking scary, and I can easily imagine some jackass verbally abusing their child over evolution, leading to the subject being triggering. Is it the student’s responsibility to deal with it? Probably not. Should the school system fix it, dance around it, or just ignore the whole thing? A naif such as I cannot answer wisely. But I don’t think abandoning evolution education is the right answer.

  59. says

    Why are ‘clowns’ and ‘circus’ not included, while rap, computers in the home and Halloween are? Surely there are lots of kids uncomfortable with clowns?
    Or lions and tigers and bears? (oh my!)

  60. Nepenthe says

    Jesus, let’s have some empathy here. Is it stupid that a significant portion of Americans raise their kids to think that rock and roll music is Satan’s own? Yes. Should we penalize kids who–through no fault of their own–would be upset by mention of Satan’s own music and cause them anxiety that, in a test-obsessed education system, might affect their futures in a non-negligible way? No. Same thing with “evilution”. Talk about evolutionary concepts, don’t use the trigger words. Should we be reminding JW kids of their parent’s ridiculous prohibition of birthdays and holidays and how much fun they’re missing out on while they’re standardized testing? No. Should we be excessively mentioning war, slavery, and natural disasters when many kids are actual refugees from that sort of shit? No.

    Yes, it makes the testing bland. Tests are supposed to be bland. Educators are supposed to challenge their students, but standardized testing is not education.

  61. says

    Home computers? Excessive watching of television? Junk food?
    That’s like 90% of my teenage years right there.

  62. Ichthyic says

    I’d like to point out that this thread is turning out to be a perfect example of why sometimes comment sections should be read before posting

    sad to say, you shouldn’t have needed to. The reason you did was because PZ himself made a misleading statement that this was about curriculum, not adjusting language for directed questions on standardized tests, which is nothing new.

    This is a piece of yellow journalism that PZ did not react skeptically enough to, nor did he actually even read the details, thus invoking the reaction many inevitably had, that an education department was actually banning words from school curricula.

    *sigh*

  63. says

    Banning words from the standardized tests effectively bans them from the curriculum. School administrators have a really bad case of teachingtothetestitis everywhere.

  64. Ichthyic says

    to be specific, THIS:

    Removing any mention of the word “evolution” from the curriculum rather effectively decapitates the teaching of biology; “celebrities”, not so much, but it’s bizarre that they put that word on a par with “slavery”. How do they talk about American history without mentioning slavery?

    is the horribly misleading part, for which I can easily understand why some would think this really was about banning terms from school curricula.

    I know you’re tired after the long road trip, but do better PZ.

  65. Ichthyic says

    Banning words from the standardized tests effectively bans them from the curriculum.

    you have no clue what you’re talking about here. Please read Ogre’s very detailed presentation, in this very comments section, that explains what is going on with adjust terminology in standardized testing.

  66. Ichthyic says

    School administrators have a really bad case of teachingtothetestitis everywhere.

    agreed, and can’t encourage enough that there ought to be more public debate about what standardized testing itself has done to education, not just in the US, btw.

    But this has nothing to do with that.

  67. says

    IMHO, they should be banning some of the standardized tests. Most of them are used for gathering demographics and distributing funds, so they neither benefit the students nor improve the educational system. If they weren’t so prevalent (in 30 years we’ve gone from 3-4 tests in the entire course of K-12 to nearly one a year *plus* HSPAs) this story would almost be a non-issue.

  68. says

    Jesus, let’s have some empathy here. Is it stupid that a significant portion of Americans raise their kids to think that rock and roll music is Satan’s own? –Nepenthe

    These people (who have shit fits if the school allows the use of the word demon in a ditty, for example) have been mucking up our education and our kids’ educations our whole lives. Why the hell would you come out to defend them and paint us as not having empathy? This is just another example of education in the USA caving in to creationist/fundamentalist parents. They should be told to fuck off.

  69. Rey Fox says

    I’d like to point out that this thread is turning out to be a perfect example of why sometimes comment sections should be read before posting.

    More like ALWAYS. I’ve started almost giving up on the comment sections of posts like this because so much of it is knee-jerk “OMG” reactions. And the trolls, THE TROLLS. It annoyed* me that “You can skip to the end and leave a response” appears below all these posts, because it encourages people to skip the discussion and post the same crap that has been refuted over and over again.

    * Until I started loading TET on a tablet and realized that the “skip to the end” wasn’t an actual link, and having to scroll the touchscreen to get to the bottom (only for the page to crash my browser).

  70. Part-Time Insomniac, Zombie Porcupine Nox Arcana Fan says

    I hope your project bears fruit, ogremk5, because bloody hell, does the US educational system need a massive overhaul. No comment on standardized testing *hiss*.

  71. says

    Let’s just say this. Students should stay in school because the alternative for of high school certification is about to get a lot tougher.

  72. kokobean says

    Apparently schools are no longer to be charged with preparing kids for the real world. Will the religions also stop teaching them that they will burn in hell-fire for eternity for touching their own winkies? No, I thought not. What ridiculous puritanical crap.

  73. Nepenthe says

    @Aratina Cage

    But you’re not telling the parents to fuck off. You’re telling the kids who, again, have no control over their fucked up home-life, to fuck off, because scoring political points is more important to you than making sure that we can accurately assess their abilities or whatever the fuck these things are supposed to do. And yes, I do have empathy for kids who grow up with fundamentalist parents and I expect other people to as well, so shoot me. Talk about whatever the fuck you want in the classroom; avoid anything more controversial or potentially upsetting than bunnies on the standardized tests. (Okay, maybe not bunnies, I watched my Buffy, best avoid those.) If we’re going to have these tests–and I’m not saying that we should–we damn well better make sure that they’re fair to as near to everyone as possible, not just kids with the “correct “upbringing and life experience.

    And, in my experience, perhaps current teachers or more recent parolees from the US public education system can correct me, but these are not generally tests of knowledge. These are things like, can you read a map and a graph, given a ruler do you know what to do with it, can you read, can you add. You wouldn’t be asking things like “What were the major causes of the Civil War?” and “How do tsunamis form?” anyway.

  74. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Ogremk5 – #85:

    I actually wish to heck that I’d just taken my GED at age 8 and gone to college, having been perfectly adequately prepared for life, as judged by the GED.

    Of course, I might have had some trouble with college coursework without some basic stats, some trig and pre-calc and a lot of experience in reading and writing that would come over the next years, but there’s no question I would have passed the GED at 8. Seriously. If that is being rectified, that will be an amazing thing.

  75. kokobean says

    ..and, having read all of the responses, with special emphasis on Ogre’s well presented explanations regarding the standardized testing industry (many thanks Ogre, seriously), valid reasons for the appalling state of our educational system come ever more clearly into focus. I stand with PZ on this one.

  76. says

    @Nepenthe

    But you’re not telling the parents to fuck off. You’re telling the kids who, again, have no control over their fucked up home-life, to fuck off, because scoring political points is more important to you than making sure that we can accurately assess their abilities or whatever the fuck these things are supposed to do.

    Those kids need to get over it. They are bullies. You don’t give in to them like this. It’s the wrong thing to do.

    And yes, I do have empathy for kids who grow up with fundamentalist parents and I expect other people to as well, so shoot me.

    Come on, Nepenthe. Your suggestion that we don’t have empathy for other people is completely unwarranted. I’m really surprised you wrote that even. Having empathy is not the same as letting them run roughshod all over the education of everyone else because of their religious beliefs.

    Talk about whatever the fuck you want in the classroom; avoid anything more controversial or potentially upsetting than bunnies on the standardized tests.

    Ridiculous. Part of passing a test is on-your-feet critical thinking. Bunnying up the tests does nothing for these students other than tender their victim mentality.

    If we’re going to have these tests–and I’m not saying that we should–we damn well better make sure that they’re fair to as near to everyone as possible, not just kids with the “correct “upbringing and life experience.

    But this isn’t being fair. It’s not fair to subject everyone who is not the child of a creationist/fundamentalist to bunny words. It’s insulting to everyone’s intelligence who has to take these bunnied-up tests.

  77. says

    I appreciate the thanks. I have to say, in all my years of working, I’ve never found a job that I enjoyed so much. Unfortunately, it has a bit of a taint, I try to clear that up whenever I can.

    It can be very frustrating, for example, when a known creationist is put in charge of a project that has a science component, but we spend a lot of effort to make sure the science is right, whether we’re doing 4th grade or college level work.

    I hope to be able to, at least partially, dispell any myths, rumors, and/or misconceptions about my industry. Knowing that we work in a flawed system and still put forth the effort to make sure that everything on our work is scientifically valid is a pretty big deal.

    BTW: We’re hiring. If anyone has a science degree and some K-12 education experience, let me know. We’re always looking for good content people. I can be reached via my blog here: http://ogremk5.wordpress.com

  78. Aquaria says

    Of course, I might have had some trouble with college coursework

    Nope, not a bit, most likely. Remedial courses abound in colleges now, and most of them are easy enough for a child to grasp.

    I wish I’d taken the GED when I was a kid and gone onto college. I might not have thoroughly hated school with every fiber of my being by the time I was 13 if I had.

  79. carlie says

    ogremk5 – I think we’re basically on the same page about this and why it’s being done this way; the difference is that I had things like the SAT in mind, and you maybe had specific tests like the NY board of regents’ subject exams in mind.

  80. What a Maroon, Applied Linguist of Slight Foreboding says

    Glad to see some of my fellow testing professionals (language testing, in my case) have set the record straight. IOW, what ogremk5 said.

    We have one client that has a large Native American population and they require that we not use certain animal species in the items because of NA beliefs (snakes, owls, crows, etc). Another client also has a large NA population, but they ignore it.

    I think I know the state. Keep in mind that not all NAs have the same beliefs.

  81. What a Maroon, Applied Linguist of Slight Foreboding says

    Ridiculous. Part of passing a test is on-your-feet critical thinking. Bunnying up the tests does nothing for these students other than tender their victim mentality.

    It really depends on what you’re testing. If it’s a biology test, I would be a strong advocate for including evolution (both the word and the concept), though ogremk5 may differ. But there’s no reason to include evolution in a test of English language arts, for example.

  82. says

    carlie, I agree. The SAT really measures the only things that are known (as in peer-reviewed known) to indicate success in college. That is math and literacy.

    Maroon@96, I advocate putting real science on the tests. However, if a client wants to not use the evolution, then there are ways to get around that. If the client wants to not use the concept of evolution, but it’s in the standards, then we can’t do that.

    Personally, I don’t care if Intelligent Design is in the standards or not, I won’t put it on any science test that I have a part of. And we have perfect justification… no peer-reviewed support.

    Even those states that try to put in creationist clauses like ‘teach the controversy’ don’t have those statements in the official state standards. So, those are really moot points. In spite of what is said, we all know that teachers teach to the test and won’t teach what isn’t on the test. Personally, I try to make the tests as comprehensive as possible, given the client constraints.

    Some states are much, much weaker than others. Just from looking at their tests, I know I will never, ever live there. I bet you could guess a few of them.

    Like I said though, I been on expert panels, committee reviews, etc. and I haven’t found a single teacher that was willing to stand up against evolution, even in some of the more fundamentalist states. But, I’m looking at a small subset of teachers.

  83. ftltachyon says

    Hah! That was an informative comment thread. After reading the justifications posted here, I went back and looked at the original list, and it suddenly made a lot of sense. The things on that list indeed shouldn’t be used as generic content in a standardized test.

    Some of them I don’t quite get – why nuclear weapons, junk food, celebrities, rap, and rock? – but the idea makes a lot more sense now.

  84. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    creation

    What do you mean by that? The Big Bang? Or something else. If something else, lay out your theory and defend it with solid and conclusive physical evidence, especially for the creator and how it was formed…

  85. What a Maroon, Applied Linguist of Slight Foreboding says

    ogremk5,

    Like I said, I’d be a strong advocate for including the word, but in the end I’d probably give in to the company line.

    Anyway, I feel for you. It’s easy for us to just shrug this sort of thing off by saying it’s not part of the construct, but I can imagine that in a science test it’s much more complicated.

  86. Crudely Wrott says

    Computers in the home? Frightening, distressing and somehow diabolically undermining of normal human development?

    Fer crissake!! It was selling computers for home use that provided the impetus for the innertubes, the mobiles, the instant TeeVee, GPS for fools who can’t read (or fold) a road map and all the cool means that are available for idiots to spout nonsense!!

    One can only speculate with dread what terms the inevitable update to the list will include. In light of which, I have the following, probably hopeless, suggestions:

    tolerance, compromise, perspicacity, precociousness, individuality, pride, accomplishment, independence, personal conscience, judgement, compassion, affection, love and humanity.

    That ought to cover most everything.

  87. What a Maroon, Applied Linguist of Slight Foreboding says

    Computers in the home? Frightening, distressing and somehow diabolically undermining of normal human development?

    And yet another voice weighs in without reading the other comments….

    By the way, your privilege is showing.

  88. What a Maroon, Applied Linguist of Slight Foreboding says

    Seriously, read the comments. Pay special attention to ogremk5. Others worthy of attention are muse, carlie, and Ichthyic (and I’m probably forgetting a few).

    Then come back and comment.

  89. chigau (一番) says

    ogremk5
    If you have the patience, could you give a (simple*) explanation of what “standardized testing” is for?
    I took Canadian standard tests 40+ years ago and all I remember is that everyone took them (9th year and 12th year).
    *I am old and my brain is not what it once was.

  90. says

    chigau @105

    Well, that depends on who you ask ;)

    For this discussion, I’m talking about state wide (or larger) populations that are taking the same test in any content area. In reality, there is only one purpose to be able to determine how well students know the curriculum being taught. Additionally, because every student is graded on the same material, there is a way to compare how various sub-populations are doing on THAT test.

    Here’s a short list of ways it IS being used for (which it really shouldn’t be used for)
    1) Compare school districts against each other or a fixed standard
    2) Compare teachers against each other or a fixed standard
    3) Compare principles against each other or a fixed standard
    4) Compare students against each other or a fixed standard (though that last is really close to the real purpose)

    Ideally, the test should be used to determine where a student is lacking in ability. A very well designed test (read: expensive) should not only be able to tell you what a student got wrong, but also why. With modern computer adaptive testing and gamification, I think we’re moving in that direction. Too slowly for me, but I’ll take any advances I can get.

    Very general tests like the SAT and GRE can be used (kinda) as predictors of college success. But that’s pretty marginal and you really have to consider a lot of other factors, but it’s about as close as you can get to a real predictor.

    So, for example, the Great State of Denial has a standardized curriculum for the major subjects (English Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and the various Sciences). Denial wants to be able to say, that when a student graduates, they are capable of certain skills as defined in our curriculum. Back in the 80s, colleges were getting pissed because kids coming out of high school couldn’t handle college algebra, so they had to put (unfunded) money into developmental ed programs.

    The Great State of Denial had this great idea to test kids each year to make sure that they knew the curriculum for each year and each class. Well, that was a pretty good idea.

    Unfortunately, there was no money for remedial programs at the high school (or lower level), so there’s a test score for a kid and the kid moves on anyway.

    So, good in theory… and we all know the difference between theory and practice.

    Does that help?

  91. Crudely Wrott says

    Beg pardon, Maroon. I’ll be sure to read all the comments on a thread before commenting from now on out. After all, everyone else does, right? Who am I to express an opinion without first knowing everyone else’s in detail and in proper sequence?

    *scrolls obediently back up to comment number one . . .*

  92. Nepenthe says

    @Aratina

    If you’re honestly suggesting that a kid who’s been abused and cowed by their parents into fearing specific things is a “bully” then this conversation seems pointless. You’re casting the children themselves as the instigators, not their parents and apparently you’d like to punish them for it. I, on the other hand, think that an eight-year-old cannot reasonably be expected to overcome whatever brainwashing they’ve been subjected to and should not be penalized for that failure during the course of standardized tests.

    Victim mentality? Seriously? Children are the victims of their parents’ philosophical defects. So, yes, to me, nothing about your post indicates that you have empathy for the children who may be negatively affected by these sorts of words. (And remember, it doesn’t have to be a conscious effect to confound the testing. For example, I’m sure I don’t have to explain stereotype threat to you, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you wouldn’t oppose putting the demographic collection bit after the testing on the with the claim that girls and non-white kids suck it up and deal with their feelings of inadequacy.)

    @Crip Dyke
    Yes! Yes! She is amazing!

    @ftltachyon
    Off the top of my head hypotheses:
    Nuclear weapons: common fear.
    Junk food: kids with eating disorders or parents who don’t let them have it.
    Celebrities: assumes knowledge, same rationale as no sports.
    Rap and rock: associations (false, but common) with criminality and demonic influence/drugs/sex, respectively.

  93. Crudely Wrott says

    . . . and now, by the simple expedient of reading the first twenty six comments, I understand your admonishment, Maroon. I see that I missed a couple of salient points that would have better informed my comment at 102.

    I can clearly see the reason for avoiding certain terminologies in standardized tests that are administered on a broad basis. I had foolishly assumed that the list of terms applied to more specific situations.

    As before, thank you. I’ve gruesome. =)

  94. What a Maroon, Applied Linguist of Slight Foreboding says

    @Crudely Wrott, 110,

    Well, now. I was all ready to be snarky about your 107, and then you had to go and be all gracious and mature.

    Ah well, I’ll get you next time.

  95. Crudely Wrott says

    @ 111

    [begin Walter Brennen]

    I’ll be there, pardner. And I’ll be keepin’ an eye out for ye.

    [end Walter Brennen]

    One of the many benefits of a forum such as this is how easy it is to communicate successfully without (usually, mostly) pesky emotional defense mechanisms being automatically deployed. I find that comforting and full of promise.

    Since I’m only just now familiar with you, Maroon, I bid you welcome to the horde and it’s nice to know that you a part of all this. We are among good company here.

  96. scenario says

    My 7th grade daughters science class today had a question that said something like if Sponge Bob Square pants and Suzy round pants had a baby and…. The girls in her class (all girls school) spent the next 10 minutes giggling about Sponge Bob having sex. In class,the lesson ended up done after the distraction. Do we really want to waste even 30 seconds of standardized test by asking questions that will distract at least some of the kids?

    Banning the word slavery from a history test is foolish. But do I really have to use the word slavery in my chemistry exam?

  97. Muse says

    We’ve run into exactly this issue – I’ve seen test questions that made me cringe. The point of the test is to test the student’s knowledge or skills, not to test their socioeconomic level or ability to work when triggered. I think NYC may have gone too far in this case, but it’s not new or unique. It’s something that every testing company thinks about and every state thinks about. Yes, there are huge problems with standardized testing, but since we have it, do you really want to make it suck more for some kids than others?

    As mentioned in other places PZ, I’m pretty sure that the social studies test can still talk about slavery if they are talking about the causes of the Civil War. I’m pretty sure teachers aren’t going to stop teaching it even if the concept weren’t on the test. Curricula =/= testing.

  98. chigau (一番) says

    ogremk5
    Thank you, it does help, a bit.
    My pre-high schooling in western Canada in the 60s was a nightmare of changing teaching styles.
    They™ stopped teaching grammar (it stultified creativity) and basic arithmetic (ditto) and how to draw stuff that looks like something (ditto) and etc.
    Then the next year They™ reverted to Discipline!!! as a way to make us learn.
    [/whinge]

  99. consciousness razor says

    @ftltachyon
    Off the top of my head hypotheses:
    Nuclear weapons: common fear.
    Junk food: kids with eating disorders or parents who don’t let them have it.
    Celebrities: assumes knowledge, same rationale as no sports.
    Rap and rock: associations (false, but common) with criminality and demonic influence/drugs/sex, respectively.

    I’m sympathetic to making standardized tests as fair as possible. No one in this thread had to remind me that they’re problematic, or that people (especially students) can respond negatively to a lot of common and seemingly-benign things. What I’d like is a bit more critical thinking about each item, not vague generalities about this sort of thing being good.

    Please don’t just come up with shit off the top of your head, unless you want to suggest that’s how people came up with these specific proposals in the first place. Because I want to ask again: how are they determining what to avoid? And given the vast number of topics that could (and perhaps should) be avoided in these tests, shouldn’t we suspect even more in the future? When the next proposal to restrict 50 or 100 more topics does come along, they shouldn’t just be given the benefit of the doubt or (implied) blanket approval, because we assume it’s generally a good idea, and people are generally trying to do the right thing — not if you care about education and care that some people will try to impose their ideologies and nonsense on everyone else.

  100. sc_496b65d975b60b4cbaf57217038439d9 says

    PZ: I agree that this whole thing is utterly idiotic, but you should be careful to distinguish between standardized tests and the curriculum. The “offending” words are to be stricken from the former, not the latter. Decent teachers who sensibly do not spend their time teaching to the test will continue to use these terms in the classroom even if they cease to appear on standardized tests.

  101. says

    @Nepenthe

    If you’re honestly suggesting that a kid who’s been abused and cowed by their parents into fearing specific things is a “bully” then this conversation seems pointless. You’re casting the children themselves as the instigators, not their parents and apparently you’d like to punish them for it.

    I remember those kind of kids all too well. They whined about it because it got them attention and gave them power over everyone else, teachers included. It was bullying.

    Anyway, where did I say they should be punished? Please don’t insert words into my mouth like that. Not censoring every little thing that they see Satan in is not punishing them!

    I, on the other hand, think that an eight-year-old cannot reasonably be expected to overcome whatever brainwashing they’ve been subjected to and should not be penalized for that failure during the course of standardized tests.

    The creationist/fundie students aren’t being penalized–it’s the other students who are the ones being penalized by this.

    Victim mentality? Seriously? Children are the victims of their parents’ philosophical defects. So, yes, to me, nothing about your post indicates that you have empathy for the children who may be negatively affected by these sorts of words.

    Yes, seriously. I’ve seen these kids do irreparable damage to the state of education in schools I’ve been to. It’s no different than that comic with the theist beating a cross over the head of an atheist, only to cry foul when the weapon is taken away. The children being negatively affected by this sort of creeping fundamentalism crap are the children who are not creationists/fundies. Why aren’t you considering them?

    (And remember, it doesn’t have to be a conscious effect to confound the testing. For example, I’m sure I don’t have to explain stereotype threat to you, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you wouldn’t oppose putting the demographic collection bit after the testing on the with the claim that girls and non-white kids suck it up and deal with their feelings of inadequacy.)

    You are putting religious beliefs on a pedestal they do not belong on.

  102. Nepenthe says

    @Aratina

    How exactly are children being hurt by not having questions involving Halloween on standardized tests? I can’t recall being devastated by the lack of famine and fortune telling-related questions when I was taking standardized tests.

    It seems like you think the objection is to the words themselves, not the possible effects they may have on test-takers. It is in fact punishing students coming from abusive religious backgrounds by including content on standardized tests that is likely to affect their success, as much as including questions about yachting and downhill skiing punishes students who come from poor backgrounds. By saying we should not consider the effects of religiously primed ideas/words on students while they are testing, although considering the effects of other bits of student’s identity (and at the age of 10, yes, religion is pretty much inherited) is fine, you are putting religious beliefs on a pedestal. But maybe we should put questions about yachting on there, so as not to give in to the poor and landlocked blocs.

    For my part, I remember having a lot of friends with fundie backgrounds. Lovely people, if clueless, cowed in by their parents fucked up ideas about the world. I count them as victims of fundamentalism. I remember religious bullies too. Apparently, you can only remember the bullies. Pity both didn’t choose better parents.

  103. yyandgin says

    To Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Sorry, I didn’t word my sentence clearly. I meant to ask why the list does not include “creation.”

  104. Draken says

    Given the lack of any direct references to members of the NY Department of Education, or an interview with any of them, I’m going to have to wait what CBS New York has to reveal coming Sunday.

  105. Tony says

    Ogremk5:

    There’s something else which is interesting. We have one client that has a large Native American population and they require that we not use certain animal species in the items because of NA beliefs (snakes, owls, crows, etc). Another client also has a large NA population, but they ignore it.

    The question is, which is doing the right thing?

    I would say if you’re bound by the First Amendment (not sure if your company is a governmental one), you can’t legally bow to their requests.

  106. DLC says

    Education. You keep using that word, but I do not think it means what you think it means.

  107. crissakentavr says

    Of course, the last thing you want to do before writing your test is read this list… You’ll never get these topics out of your head.

    This is definitely a project that started out as a good idea – let’s avoid a few topics which would tweak the results against disadvantaged kids – and turned into a nightmare. The list starts out okay, then gets weird, and then somewhere before the middle starts taking out entire topics.

    Evolution?

  108. crissakentavr says

    Re Ogremk5 and Tony:

    I would say since the totemic and ‘evil’ animals and spirits are completely different per tribe, of course a different population will have different needs. None of those animals are special in the tribes I grew up with! But the tribe my father’s family was from, those were all bad omen carriers.

  109. says

    BTW: I just checked the New York State Standards for Life Sciences.

    Evolution is Key Idea number 3 with 12 sub-topics.

    After reviewing the entire Life science standards, it’s actually a pretty good document.

    The standards are here: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/ciai/mst/pub/livingen.pdf

    I encourage all of you to visit your state education website and read the standards for the various science (or social studies or whatever) courses. If there’s something you don’t like (or do like), let the department of ed (and your legislator) know about it.

  110. chigau (一番) says

    “pantomime”
    I think you’d get universal agreement on the offensiveness of that.

  111. jayarrrr says

    Animal shelters?
    Computers in the home?

    Oh, boy, are WE ever in trouble… I think this is a good argument for doing away with standardized tests completely. Let the teachers actually teach something besides how to memorize the answers to “THE TEST”.

  112. Muse says

    jayarrrr I’ll say it again since you missed it the first several times ogremk5 and I said it. That is a issue with socioeconomic status. The DOE is trying to not disadvantaged kids with a lower socioeconomic status.

  113. unclefrogy says

    the discussion on this thread and the testing really highlight the for me the conflicted state of education in the United States. None of it is helped by the reporting about it either. Education can not be removed from the rest of the society with all of its conflicts and inequities. So we struggle with what we have and the regulations imposed by the political conflicted law making bodies across the country. I do not work in education but I know people who do I even went to school myself nothing I have heard or experienced about education or its “improvement” has been adopted or proposed without heated controversy.
    I guess the Millennial Utopia has not arrived yet. If I could say that there is nothing more “sacred” or important than learning the nature of everything, the truth about everything I would.
    That we should insure to the best of our abilities insure that all children have more than just the opportunity but all the assistance humanly possible to accomplish that difficult task but alas that is not a universally held idea. We have budget “shortfall”, cultural and social problems galore all battling it out in the political realm, while children continue to grow older in ignorance . sigh…………..

    uncle frogy

  114. sqlrob says

    SQLRob, I searched the article for “biology” and didn’t find the word. Are you sure?

    Quite sure. I had a bet with my bio teacher on getting a 100 on it, and did. Finishing a test in 15 minutes and having to stay there for the minimum two hours sucks.

    This was back when they were called the “Regents Exams”, so I have no clue if they still have those tests. Basically, finals for a lot of classes were standardized. This was nigh on two decades ago.