Wednesday, January 25, 2006

State Standardized Testing 0, Apathy 1500

Today we (that is, all 9th, 10th, and 11th graders at my high school) wasted half the day doing a TAKS field test. They do these to help with the development of TAKS tests (I've been subjected to them since seventh grade), and we're reminded often that our scores don't count; these tests are simply given in representative districts to help the TEA. In fact, neither we nor anybody else in the school system ever even see what we get - the tests go straight to Austin for grading.

This year the field test assigned to HPISD was the "ELA" (English Language Arts) test, which consists of two sections: reading comprehension, involving both multiple choice and free-response questions (three short answer and an essay), and revising and editing, involving being presented with various rapes of the English language and choosing the least horrendous alternative. For some reason I have yet to fathom, the passages to be read in the first section are almost always about how much life in America sucks for immigrants or Native Americans. (This was the case back in the days of TAAS, TAKS's predecessor, too.)

I had The Grapes of Wrath in my backpack, and though I'm not a fan of communism, reading Steinbeck is a heck of a lot better than taking TAKS, so I quickly worked through the multiple choice questions without paying much attention to the stories, then wrote the same thing in each of my free-response blanks: "Have a nice day. Vote Libertarian.".

I wasn't alone in my blowing off of the test. One friend of mine wrote in mirror image. Another wrote a story of love between a slice of pepperoni and an olive. (He might score highly. Last year on a TAKS that counted, I wrote a horrible sci-fi story involving some guy who gave up his body to become a robot, and got a perfect score.) Several wrote rants about what a waste of our time and our parents' money the test was, and one took the same approach he's taken to TAKS essays since freshman year: He writes the same essay, something involving shooting a sheriff, every year, and changes the last sentence to fit the prompt. He always gets a 3 or a 4 out of 4.

Ideally, the TEA will recognize that it gets no useful information out of these field tests (the tests themselves sure haven't ever changed) and will stop giving them, but most likely they'll just sic more people on their analysis in hopes of coming up with something.


Blogger Jeff said...

I saw your comment over at hammer of truth and was wondering if i could add your blog to my blogroll. My blog is if you want to add me to your links.

P.S. Bravo on making a good use of the paper they printed that garbage of a test on by promoting :)

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Jake Porter said...

I agree with you on these tests, I have taken them for years and the only thing they prove is that the government wants to control your education.

Good job with advertising the LP, I did the same at my school by placing a conservatives are gay and I support the man in China selling these stupid signs posters up.

7:18 PM  
Blogger David said...

Good to see some more young libertarians around :) I like your work, it's entertaining and insightful. I share a lot of your views, though I'm not sure my particular strand of libertarianism is analagous to the American style economically. See you round.

7:17 AM  

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