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In the chorus line of questions on any given standardized test or test prep materials, is it possible that it's only the questions about my poetry that are kicking in the wrong direction? Or is it time to can the choreographer for gross ineptitude? #thetestsarebogus @DianeRavitch
2. My poem, Walking on the Boundaries of Change was used with permission by test prep company Mentoring Minds, that mysteriously (and falsely) promises to build critical thinking skills in kids. Below, the poem and first question. It's downhill from here, 8 questions total.
3. Day by day
a tightrope,
walking on the boundaries
of change.
One step –
firm, familiar,
the next step –
shaky, strange.

Some friends
will dare danger,
mock or push each step.
Some friends
knock your confidence.

Real friends
form a net. (c) 1998 Sara Holbrook
4. Last weekend I asked a teacher to read the poem and answer the question. She responded, "nice poem, let me read it again." I reminded her this was a timed test, no time for re-reading. (c) 2015 Mentoring Minds, LC. Fair use of less than 10% of publication, a test prep pub.
5. How can we judge teacher effectiveness based on questions like this? It is impossible to teach nonsense and asking a kid whether "strange" means out of the ordinary, unusual, or previously unknown is nonsense. Maybe I meant all three, maybe the three are indistinguishable.
6. How can we judge kids’ proficiencies based on a guessing game written by people of unknown scholarship, absent any discernible intelligence? Children's futures, teacher evals, housing values depend on a measurement that is so flawed to be meaningless. @barryLane @amylvpoemfarm
7. How can we allow companies to charge taxpayers billions of dollars for these false measurements that tell us nothing? In 2015 @washingtonpost reported 13.1 billion spent on testing and test prep materials. washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sh…
8. Why do we let testing and test prep companies continue to peddle such defective merchandise and slap a warning on their products stating that if their ineptitude is exposed, people will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law? @michaelsalinger
9. No teacher wants to trade in their sensible shoes for an orange jump suit. I received this from a teacher who risked a job and jail time to get the message out. Why? Teachers love their kids. They despair over their students' stressing out over (see above) PURE NONSENSE.
10. If a bike helmet falls to pieces and fails to protect a child from injury, consumers can sue the manufacturer. These tests are injurious, but shrouded in secrecy and thereby beyond the reach of most teachers and all parents.
11. Parents may even mistake test results as a legitimate assessment of their child. Citizens need to stop reassuring themselves that the tests are mostly okay and when inaccuracies are exposed, those are exceptions. NO. They are the rule.
12. Anytime we ask questions about author intent, we have stepped off the pedagogical sidewalk and into muck. We are killing thinking in kids. @palan57
13. I wrote a piece that went viral when I couldn't answer the questions on the TX STAAR test. This followup shows another potential danger. washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sh…
14. What can be done? PARENTS, demand to see the test prep materials. Look them over thoughtfully and demand answers to your questions. Demand to see past tests. Deputize the PTA to police this free for all, kids are getting hurt. Ask questions. Be difficult. Consider opting out.
15. TEACHERS, share what you can when you can to a trusted source who will protect your identity as I will protect the teacher who sent me this. Expose this idiocy. Read, write, investigate. Do not waste classroom time on test prep. AUTHORS help teachers, protect and go public.
16. ADMINISTRATORS, redirect the money slated for test prep materials to funding classroom libraries.There are no quick fixes. Literacy skills are developed through voluminous reading and writing, not relentless practice runs on filling in bubbles. @Stephharvey49 @angela_schroden
17. Proficiency testing is a multi-tiered marketing campaign to sell schools stacks of materials that only benefit the stockholders of the testing and test prep companies and stand between kids and learning.Any eval that does not include input from a child's teacher is incomplete
18. We need more conversation in our classrooms and less focus on bubble tests. Absent that, kids may burn out, stress out, or just slip away. @StevenSinger3 huffpost.com/entry/middle-s…
19. Because someone is sure to ask, I made $400 on the sale of this poem, the publisher received $200. I want to defend my publisher here. They had no idea the poem would be abused in this way and then used to abuse kids. I signed my contract on this poem in 1997.
20. Before I wrap up this long diatribe, let me link to this atrocity from MA in case you didn't see it. Yes, atrocious, but also a bit hopeful as the curtain was pulled back, the question exposed and removed by a consortium of concerned citizens. bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/04/…
21. It was a consortium of concerned citizens that worked together to create helmet laws to protect kids. I am hopeful we can work together to combat this nonsense that poses a much more pervasive threat of head injury to children.
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