Bad C.A.T.

18 May 2006

Another quick rant today, before I forget ...This is a little off-topic for my blog, but something I wanted to say nonetheless.

Yesterday, I took advantage of a rare opportunity of peeking into an * actual * standardized test administered to grade school children (5th grade level). I believe the test is known as the California Achievement Test (orCAT). Let me tell you, I got about two pages into this thing before becoming considerably upset.I meant to make a photocopy of one of the questions that really irked me, but didn't get that opportunity. So, here's a paraphrased version of just one question that pissed me off.

In the Reading Comprehension section, there was a short essay about some little kids who went to a sea shore to do some exploring for their science class. One little girl looks into the water and sees what she thinks is a snail. (It said something like, "She looked into the water and saw a large snail.") Later on, she learns that she's actually found a hermit crab. Then, there's a question on the following page that says something like, "What did the girl see in the water?"

A. A snail.

B. A hermit crab.

C. [some other answer]

D. [some other answer]

Ambiguous? Personally, I think either A or B is a reasonable answer, depending on how the kid interprets the question. However, I suspect that the academic geniuses who put this test together had only one correct answer in mind. My point:These tests aren't necessarily accurate. Your kid might be quite a bit smarter (or, unfortunately, quite a bit less intelligent) than you think. But, the results of these tests also influence how kids are categorized within their schools -- or even whether they're admitted to certain schools.

Is it so difficult to put together a friggin' test for fifth graders? And, if * this * test is flawed, then how flawed are the SATs, the ACTs, the GREs, the LSATs, etc.? Sure, maybe they're not *that* flawed. But, what about the kids who miss out on opportunities because of that one piss-poorly worded question? For want of a nail, the battle is lost, I guess. I'll bet you somewhere out there is a crack whore who might have been a Supreme Court justice someday -- if it weren't for the laziness of (1) some jagoff who wrote that crappy question, and (2) some idiotic oversight board that failed to scrutinize said jagoff.

Okay, enough ranting ...

Original Comments

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On May 20, 2006, Mrs. Brian Johnson wrote:

Oh, the CBEST is the test for California teachers. Sorry for leaving that part out.

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