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More Links of the Day:

– New York City school officials want test-writers to avoid words and topics that could make kids feel bad. Those words include birthday, Halloween, dinosaurs and dancing. The New York Post reports:

Words that suggest wealth are excluded because they could make kids jealous. Poverty is likewise on the forbidden list.

Also banned are references to divorces and diseases, because kids taking the tests may have relatives who split from spouses or are ill.

Officials say such exclusions are normal procedure.

“This is standard language that has been used by test publishers for many years and allows our students to complete practice exams without distraction,” said a Department of Education spokeswoman, insisting it’s not censorship.

The New York Post calls it political correctness. I think this has more to do with needlessly protecting children.

Perhaps schools should stop teaching about the Holocaust or slavery because kids might get upset. Maybe schools should stop teaching literary classics like Lord of the Flies, which we read in 6th grade, because they’re too violent and disturbing. If the state is concerned about what goes on in a two-hour test, how long before it wades into other areas of learning?

Schools should not exist in bubbles. We cannot sanitize life.

– Want to know if your kid is skipping school? Implant a micro-chip in her school uniform. The geniuses who thought this up probably didn’t count on kids bringing a change of clothes in their backpacks. This reminds of the Halloween tracker apps. What a nice way to build trust and foster independence in children.

– In a hugely important piece of journalism, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution analyzed state testing data from across the country and flagged a bunch of school districts for irregularities. The report is a continuation of the paper’s work uncovering a massive cheating scandal in Atlanta schools.

AJC flagged some districts in the Rochester area. You can search its database. But the analysis has serious limitations. Only districts showing highly improbable fluctuations in student achievement on state tests were highlighted. The data doesn’t prove cheating. New York’s tests have been found to be seriously flawed, but I’m not sure if that would play a role.

The report raises serious questions. New York recently implemented new testing security procedures.

4 Responses to Censoring Tests

  1. …and if a kid ever lost a puppy, kitten, gramma, pocketwatch…? I look forward to the day when tests can only consist of “the”, “is”, and perhaps “and”.

  2. I’m reserving judgment until there are more details. Is this all tests or just word problems for math tests? Even if that’s not the case I can understand wanting to eliminate distractions. Some subjects require dealing with unpleasant truths and you can’t protect kids from them, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile to think about how you can maybe not pile up the unpleasantness.

  3. I understand your point, Christine, but should a math problem not include the word peanuts because some kids have an allergy to them?

    I often use the term “slippery slope” when talking about issues like this. I think we get away from common sense all too often these days, and place rules and laws on things that we are trying to control even when in the end, there’s no possible way we can control them. You can’t legislate happiness. We have a right to pursue happiness, not a right to have it, and I think we tend to believe the latter when we legislate.

  4. March 27, 2012 at 8:51 am lynn ellingwood responds:

    Continually testing students is what can truly be upsetting and making them fell their future and their teachers’ job and life of their school depend on it.

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