I must alert you to an awesome piece by poet Sara Holbrook on HuffPo, where she explains that Texas used two of her poems for middle school standardized tests.
- receives an email from a distressed teacher who doesn’t understand the answers
- discovers poor formatting that adds to the confusion
- finds the questions in question
- cannot, ultimately, answer them
The narration of her thought process going through the questions is also delightful.
At one point, she writes:
Parents, educators, legislators, readers of news reports: STOP TAKING THESE TEST RESULTS SERIOUSLY
Idiotic, hair-splitting questions pertaining to nothing, insufficient training, profit-driven motives on the part of the testing companies, and test results that simply reveal the income and education level of the parents.
All very fair. But then a bit of intentionalism to finish it all off!
My final reflection is this: any test that questions the motivations of the author without asking the author is a big baloney sandwich. Mostly test makers do this to dead people who can’t protest. But I’m not dead.
Whoa – okay. Now the little dose of philosophy:
She definitely thinks she has the final word on how her poetry is interpreted! But like, does she really? Maybe she’s a good poet but a bad interpreter. (I’ll admit that the questions and answers do in fact seem a little silly. And I’ll be the first to throw down about how terrible standardized testing is.) But in principle, there’s no reason to think that just because she can’t answer the questions, they’re bad questions. Right? What do you guys think?
Go read the whole thing on Huffington Post.