Adults Flunk K-12 Student Tests

K-12 Testing

Should students have to pass a test on which the standards are set so high that most adults can't pass, particularly if the test is used for such things as high school graduation? If this became a rule, many mandated state assessments would be in trouble. At least, this was what was found by groups of adults in New Jersey, Kentucky, Washington and Indiana who recently struggled with their own state tests.


Low-scoring adults in New Jersey, including state education officials, found that sample questions from a high school science exam they took contained several ambiguous or faulty answers. State officials said the samples never appeared on any student tests, but the items were included in a packet of materials sent to teachers to help them prepare students for the next exam. One university professor who took the test expressed fear that some classroom teachers may actually use the faulty items to teach science to students.


Most of the 390 parents who participated in a "Take the Test Day" event in Kentucky missed more than one question out of four taken from the state's middle school exam. A similar event in Yakima, Washington, showed that few parents could correctly answer questions taken from the state's fourth grade math test. Meanwhile, not a single South Carolina legislator responded to a major newspaper's challenge to take that state's exam.


Business leaders in West Bend concluded that Indiana's statewide test was not what it was cracked up to be after taking the high school exit exam in January. Many reported that they struggled with the exam, and several said that it does not measure important skills. As one participant commented, the test could actually prevent otherwise "excellent employees " from obtaining jobs. One more good principle to follow in student testing was expressed by another business leader: "It's a good idea to challenge students, but not like this."