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Archive for April, 2012

By James Davis

The celebrated children’s writer Daniel Pinkwater has the ignominious distinction of featuring prominently in the standardized English Language Arts (ELA) test administered in several states.  A story from his novel, Borgel, highly truncated and heavily edited, was used last week, accompanied by multiple choice questions that New York’s 8th graders had to answer without referring back to the story.

The questions crafted around the story by the testing company, Pearson, pushed students, parents, teachers, and principals over the edge, generating a maelstrom of anguish and indignation.  Among the questions were:

(1) Why did the animals eat the pineapple? A) they were annoyed B) they were amused C) they were hungry D) they wanted to.

(2) Who was the wisest? A) the hare B) the moose C) the crow D) the owl.

Although Pearson has not responded thus far, New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott caved under pressure and struck this segment from the exam.  This is not the first time Pinkwater’s whimsical tale has been pressed into testing service, and the students who have been subjected to it in recent years are sufficiently numerous and enterprising as to have created a Facebook page, “The moral of the story is Pineapples don’t have sleeves,” with nearly 12,000 “likes.”

Could this be the beginning of the end of standardized testing?  (more…)

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