An interesting Op Ed piece appeared in The New York Times today titled, Reading Test Dummies. The author is E. D. Hirsch Jr., who is best known for his work in the area of cultural literacy. Dr. Hirsch has written several books, his most recent being The Knowledge Deficit (2006). He also is the founder of the Core Knowledge Foundation, a non-profit research organization.
Hirsch prefaces his piece by pulling an Obama quote from a recent speech on education reform. Specifically, the one where the President calls for children to have the skill set to do more than just fill in bubbles on Scan-tron sheets. Hirsch then takes a minute to make a case that standardized tests aren’t all bad, but rather the U.S. educational system takes the wrong approach, indicating that children are often asked to read passages that are not “knowledge neutral” and given randomly to students with out a context.
noneChildren are asked to read and then answer multiple-choice questions about such topics as taking a hike in the Appalachians even though they’ve never left the sidewalks of New York, nor studied the Appalachians in school.