NJ Test to Stop Asking 3rd Graders to Reveal a Secret

The question appeared on the writing portion of some versions of the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge given to third-graders this past week

Saturday, May 12, 2012  |  Updated 4:55 PM EDT
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State education officials will no longer use a standardized test question that asked third-graders to reveal a secret and write about why it was difficult to keep.

The question appeared on the writing portion of some versions of the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge given to third-graders this past week. And it drew criticism from some parents, who thought it was inappropriate.

The state Department of Education said the question was reviewed and approved by it and a panel of teachers. It said Friday the question was only being tried out and would not count in the students' scores.

But after further review, Department of Education spokesman Justin Barra said, the question won't be included in future tests.

"We've looked at this question in light of concerns raised by parents, and it is clear that this is not an appropriate question for a state test," Barra said, adding that about 4,000 students in 15 districts had the question.

Marlboro dentist Richard Goldberg was among the parents who had raised concerns about the question.

Goldberg said he was appalled when he asked his twin 9-year-old sons about the standardized tests they were taking and they told him about the question. He said he felt it ventured into topics that would best be kept quiet and it could raise some serious complications, so he wasn't surprised to hear the state decided to eliminate it from future tests.

"I got a lot of feedback from parents who also were outraged" about the matter, Goldberg told Neptune's the Asbury Park Press newspaper. "All of a sudden now you have thousands and thousands of children possibly revealing things that now these people have to report, when the purpose of the exam was to see what the children's critical reading skills were."

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