First, a disclaimer: Our first item is not a blog, and it was not published this week. (Other than that, the headline above is perfectly accurate.)
But this article on high-flying high school students being flummoxed by an SAT essay prompt involving . Gasp! TV reality shows! .. was too good to pass up. Yes, it’s from the New York Times. And, yes, I tend to cite them a lot. And, yes that’s because I really like Times. And no, I’m not getting paid by them to say this.
Back to the story: It seems an SAT question on just how real the “reality” is on reality TV shows like American Idol and Real Housewives of New Jersey — which all high school kids know something about, right? — was too much for those high achievers who don’t have time for the tube.
“I ended up talking about Jacob Riis and how any form of media cannot capture reality objectively,” one frustrated student wrote on the Web site College Confidential, referring to the 19th century reformer. “I kind of want to cry right now.”
The irony, unmentioned in the article, is how for years SAT opponents have criticized the tests for being culturally biased toward affluent white students and against minorities and the disadvantaged. A famous example from years ago was the analogy that required students to know the meaning of “regatta,” which could be tough for children who’ve never seen a sailboat or a racing shell.
I don’t begrudge the high-achieving, non-TV watching students their complaint, but it seems to me that, if anything, the tests favor students with their life experiences over kids from disadvantaged backgrounds.
While we’re on the subject of standardized tests, blogger Jennifer Fox writes in the Huffington Post about her campaign “to stop the testing trend.” One suggestion: “Ask teachers to have their classes of students fill out the cards [postcards to First Lady Michelle Obama asking the president to end the use of high stakes standardized tests!'] and bring in a quarter to mail them as a class.” Don’t think teachers or administrators would relish being be put in that position.
“Ninety-one percent of public school teachers say schools need to do more to prepare diverse’ learners for success after high school,” Jacobs writes.
Lawrence Hardy, Senior Editor