I won’t beat around the bush,” he wrote in an email. “The math section had 60 questions. I knew the answers to none of them, but managed to guess ten out of the 60 correctly. On the reading test, I got 62% . In our system, that’s a “D”, and would get me a mandatory assignment to a double block of reading instruction.I was interested to see a 10th grade math and reading test that was so tough that a school board member with "a bachelor of science degree, two masters degrees, and 15 credit hours toward a doctorate" flunked it. I therefore took the reading quiz and the math quiz published with the article, which reportedly use questions from the same student assessment.
I was appalled, not by how hard the test was, but by the fact that someone who claims to have three degrees did so badly on it. I scored 7 out of 7 on the reading quiz and 6 out of 7 on the math quiz, and I do think one of the math questions was poorly designed (it's question number 6 if you're interested, it requires eyeball-guessing the area of an irregular shape).
So how does this school board member react?
I have a wide circle of friends in various professions. Since taking the test, I’ve detailed its contents as best I can to many of them, particularly the math section, which does more than its share of shoving students in our system out of school and on to the street. Not a single one of them said that the math I described was necessary in their profession.Having flunked an easy reading and math test, he claims that the material isn't relevant. I disagree. The math questions cover basic skills that anyone should be able to do, like multiplication, reading graphs, basic algebra, and simple geometry. This is not rocket science; he should be embarrassed by such a poor score on this test. I don't think he's stupid; I think the real reason for his failing score is that he made no effort at all to work out the answers.
I can’t escape the conclusion that decisions about the [state test] in particular and standardized tests in general are being made by individuals who lack perspective and aren’t really accountable.Yeah, I think you just described yourself there, dude. If kids are having trouble passing this test in the 10th grade, I don't think it's the test that's the problem: the system is failing to teach them basic skills.