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    Please, let it be sandbagging.

    Please, let it be sandbagging.

    One of my friends circulated a link to a disturbing article from WaPo: When an adult took standardized tests forced on kids.

    Basically, an “administrator” with a BS and two MAs flunked this extremely basic 10th grade Florida state math test.

    This is the test in question: 

    After reading his review of the test, I was genuinely concerned that I would do poorly. Here is the answer guide:

    I did the 40 back questions of the test and got 39 correct using the calculator on my iphone. Math has never been my strong suit; I always got respectable grades but it was with far more effort than I applied to my science, foreign language, and English courses. This, however, was not a hard test. It was pretty basic and any formulas I may have forgotten were provided at the beginning.

    I hope he intentionally did poorly to make his lame point about the unfairness of high-stakes testing (“sandbagging”). Otherwise, we’re in more trouble than I thought.


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    BurkeanBadger | December 7, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    This was a relatively vapid article. Not Kathleen McCaffrey’s commentary, but the original article on which it is based. I understand that its point was mostly polemical, but it proved next to nothing and offered no significant argument.

    Assuming that this “administrator” wasn’t sandbagging (and I doubt that he was), what did his poor performance on a standard tenth grade test prove? That he was either ill prepared, didn’t put forth full effort, is a poor test taker or is relatively incompetent. Or, more likely, some combination of the above.

    I know what the author of the article wants it to prove: That “corporate”** education has imposed banal, stifling and completely useless standardized tests upon our children, stomping on their curiosity and creativity and straight-jacketing brilliant and talented teachers and administrators.

    This is not a new or particularly insightful argument. Matthew Arnold made a similar argument 150 years ago. It’s been the standard mantra by progressives and teacher’s unions for decades. Whatever its merit (not much, in my opinion), the fact that a heavily degreed educational bureaucrat flunked a high school standardized test is no evidence in the argument’s favor.

    That he has two master’s degrees is nearly irrelevant. But this exemplifies the way many progressives think. There is an obsession with credentials on the left which has no comparison on the right (generalizing a bit, I realize). Conservatives tend to first look at the substance and logic of the argument, liberals tend to first look at the educational background and degrees of the individual making the argument. This, then, informs their opinion of the actual substance of the argument. I don’t think this is an accident, given that the dream of classical progressives (Dewey, Pound, Croly, etc.) was a vast administrative state governed by “disinterested” technocrats, educated in the right schools, by the right professors (namely, progressives). That dream remains strong among many on the left.

    So, when one of those anointed souls, such as an educational bureaucrat, flunks a standardized test, CLEARLY there is something wrong with the test and the whole argument for such tests. Clearly.

    It just can’t be that this fellow is either lazy or a dolt. Perish the thought!

    **Can a progressive journalist/intellectual/pundit/blowhard write an entire article without invoking this, most unholy and evil of terms? It is beyond a weasel word or a cliche; it’s just downright annoying

    Juba Doobai! | December 8, 2011 at 12:14 am

    This is the laziest Math test I’ve ever seen. The students have to do nothing but show up and maybe calculate. When I did Math, the exam book contained no formulae. We had to know them or bust. Our questions had no answers provided. We had to do the math or bust. Now these lazy little bastards have instructions about using a calculator. We have cooked the food, brought it to the table, served it, taken up a scoop, and are putting it into the mouths of some of the laziest most careless ignorami any civilization has ever been unfortunate to entertain. I don’t care if the guy was sandbagging. I care that today’s children are encouraged to live lives without effort.

    ConserveLiberty | December 8, 2011 at 12:28 am

    That test might have been a challenge for the median student in 8th Grade, in my public school, in 1969. I did 25 questions correctly with a pencil and a sheet of paper before I got bored.

    Full Disclosure: I majored in Eng Lang & Lit but had a broad introduction to business accounting, economics, college math, chemistry, biology some social sciences and plant science at a fine State University.

    At age 33 I “discovered” math and took self-study Certificate Programs in probability-based investment strategies, requiring a rigorous classroom week and comprehensive 8-hour exam taught at Wharton School, U. Penn.

    All anyone has to do to get a “B” is listen in class and do the homework.

    Mark_Stone | December 8, 2011 at 7:49 am

    Dunno if you guys read the SECOND article … the school board member tried to defend his wrong answers

    “On the FCAT, they are reading material they didn’t choose. They are given four possible answers and three out of the four are pretty good. One is the best answer but kids don’t get points for only a pretty good answer. They get zero points, the same for the absolute wrong answer. And then they are given an arbitrary time limit. Those are a number of reasons that I think the test has to be suspect.”

    So part of the reason is that they chose a wrong answer, because it was too close to a right answer??

    Wrong is wrong… not “Wrong is wrong, but only if it’s not close to the right answer…” So before we start congratulate this guy for pointing out any flaws in the test, look at what he says is “wrong” with it.

    10th grade math. I was in 10th grade during the 1958-59 school year, so it has been a while. I spent about 4 or 5 minutes to look through the upfront material and then about 15 minutes to take the first 11 questions and got 10 right (while listening to a telephone conference call). My conclusion: the guy with the BA and the two MS degrees is incompetent. Forget the college degrees and find out if it is possible to revoke his high school diploma.

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