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No Dinosaurs On NYC Standardized Tests

No Dinosaurs On NYC Standardized Tests

In an over-the-top attempt to be politically correct, The New York City Department of Education (DOE) is seeking to have 50 or so words they deem upsetting removed from city-issued standardized tests.

One of those words is “dinosaur,” apparently because it might bring to mind other no-no words, like “evolution” (also on the proposed list of forbidden words), which could offend test-takers who might not necessarily believe in evolution. (Yes, you read that right!)

Words That Might Make A Child “Feel Unpleasant” During Test-Taking

According to CBS New York, the fear is that certain words and topics could make students “feel unpleasant” while they’re taking city-issued tests. Perhaps the DOE doesn’t realize that the mere act of taking a standardized test makes numerous students feel unpleasant?

Regardless, other ban-list words include: “Halloween” (suggests paganism), “birthday” (insensitive to Jehovah’s Witnesses, who don’t celebrate birthdays), “dancing” (but not “ballet,” which the city has evidently made an exception for), “video games” and “rap music.”

You can check out the complete list of words that could soon become forbidden on NYC tests here.

What on earth is the logic here? By not mentioning “divorce” and “disease,” are children supposed to believe marriages never break up and people don’t get sick? Is it offensive to mention birthdays because one religious group doesn’t celebrate them?

How Are New Yorkers Reacting?

From CBS New York:

Julie Lewis’ family celebrates Christmas and Kwanzaa, but she told CBS 2′s Emily Smith she wants her children to appreciate and learn about other holidays and celebrations.

“They’re going to meet people from all walks of life and they’re going to have to learn to adjust,” Lewis said.

Words that suggest wealth are excluded because they could make kids jealous. “Poverty” is also on the forbidden list. That’s something Sy Fliegal with the Center for Educational Innovation calls ridiculous.

“The Petersons take a vacation for five days in their Mercedes … so what? You think our kids are going to be offended because they don’t have a Mercedes? You think our kids are going to say ‘I’m offended; how could they ask me a question about a Mercedes? I don’t have a Mercedes!’” Fliegal said.

I happen to think that standardized tests are a bad idea, and especially when they are high-stakes. But since they do exist, let’s just say that The New York DOE has got it all wrong. Not only is their logic in banning certain words, and by inference certain lifestyles, incorrect, but they have missed an opportunity to address a much more serious issue.

Just Look At Students’ Zip Codes To Predict What Their Scores Will Be

Research has shown again and again that we only need to look at the zip codes of the students to predict what their scores on standardized tests will be. Numerous studies have demonstrated that children of affluence score higher on standardized tests than children of poverty. It’s not hard to see why. When families suffer from economic woes, that suffering is reflected in students’ school performance.

Another reason is that standardized tests measure what’s learned in school, but they also measure what’s learned outside of school. Many experts on educational testing, mostly notably James Popham, have pointed out that numerous items on standardized tests measure skills or knowledge flowing from the kinds of experiences that are more common to children with higher levels of socioeconomic status (SES) than those from lower SES levels. And that’s wrong.

New York’s DOE Has Missed An Opportunity

The New York DOE ought to be rewriting its tests to make them fair for all, instead of banning a few arbitrary words. But of course that would take a lot more time and money.

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Photo Credit: Hamed Esmail

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84 comments

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4:28PM PDT on Jun 22, 2012

wow

11:17AM PDT on May 8, 2012

Poverty is real, hunger is real, halloween exists and birthdays too, so where in the hell (oops sorry for the use of hell word, hehehe), they believe they can educate children hidding reality? How can we teach tolerance to othe'rs beliefs if they don't know there are differences and learn to love differences and respect different ways to live? Good Lord have mercy of us (or should I say Gaia, Great Spirit or wathever you believe in, no offense intented), please eligth us and let the humanity bee human.

11:17AM PDT on May 8, 2012

Poverty is real, hunger is real, halloween exists and birthdays too, so where in the hell (oops sorry for the use of hell word, hehehe), they believe they can educate children hidding reality? How can we teach tolerance to othe'rs beliefs if they don't know there are differences and learn to love differences and respect different ways to live? Good Lord have mercy of us (or should I say Gaia, Great Spirit or wathever you believe in, no offense intented), please eligth us and let the humanity bee human.

4:17AM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

Wewease the Kwacken !

1:19AM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

No dinosaurs? So what about the Leviathan?

1:17AM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

Pearl is right

4:23AM PDT on Apr 25, 2012

Ok so with all this bullying awareness and "offensive words" bull crap were creating a nation of little cry baby bitches Ive been bulled almost all my childhood, some was REAL bullying and was messed up, but Ive learned over the years that we teach our children to live in fairly tail land were we dont "offend" one another, that saying words(cussing, saying things that "offend" other people & saying things like dick, penis, pussy, vagina) are bad & the like, Ive learned that if we stop being little bitches and running to our mommy's we people "offend" us life would be alot better, less stressful & would could focus on the REAL bully's to me if we stopped playing well its free speech he can say what he wants but were gunna regulate what you can learn and teach you to live in fantasy land bull crap and instead embrace one others differences & learn from other cultures instead of shunning them we might just might have peace & a intelligent nation instead of a nation of uneducated bible thumping, anti-progress, bc crybabys

1:54PM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

And we continue to dumb down the American education system...

7:21AM PDT on Apr 2, 2012

con't . I wonder how much of this has to do with adults not feeling bad or dealing with uncomfortable questions rather then the kids?

7:20AM PDT on Apr 2, 2012

You can't protect kids from the real world. what happens when they go out into the world and hear these words and find out that they are simply not educated enough to get a REAL job? Perhaps they will sue the New York City Department of Education (DOE)!

If they don't want kids to feel bad because they're poor it makes more sense to make sure there are enough jobs that pay a living wage for everyone. What next remove the American Flag because it might make illegal immigrants feel bad or remove the founding fathers because some had slaves (oops that's already happening).

Has it never occurred to these idiots that children had better get used to being uncomfortable because that's part of life. Every time we remove a "life experience" from our kids because it might hurt or be uncomfortable we're simply postponing the lesson to a time the cost will be higher. If kids don't learn to deal with losing when they are young then at some point they will have to deal with it. and it usually costs them more at that point. IE: the loss of a job because they didn't understand that when you're a grunt you do grunt work. That not everything in life has to be fulfilling or fun. That you may have to work at a crap job in order to have luxuries such as eating and electricity! My dad told me early on that you didn't have to like your job you just had to do it. And not everything in life is pleasant. Sometimes you have to do crappy things in order to survive. I wonder how much of th

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