Monday, June 03, 2002

Failing History

As explained in today's Reason Express, Palm Beach County high school students are taking a new history exam:

The national fetish for measuring the progress of public school students with standardized tests has reached it logical conclusion in Florida. Students in Palm Beach County high schools need to answer just 23 of 100 multiple-choice questions correctly to pass their new history exam.

The exam exists in order to comply with state-mandated "core knowledge" strictures that seek to make sure students graduate with a bare minimum of hot-button facts about women, African-Americans, the Holocaust, and such. (Maybe the test should include a question on confusing presidential ballots, but who would grade it?)

School district officials say it is a little odd that the passing bar is so low (and that a score of just 39 will earn students a B). But given that the test is new for this year, they add, it would somehow be unfair to expect scores to be any higher.

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