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Standardized Test Question Asks N.J. Third Graders To Reveal A Secret

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TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Some New Jersey parents are upset about a standardized test question that asked third-graders to reveal a secret and write about why it was hard 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 week.

Dr. Richard Goldberg’s twin boys took the test at the Asher Holmes Elementary School in Marlboro. Goldberg told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan his sons struggled as they came across a personal question on the exam.

“Well, what was the hardest question on the test? They both looked at each other and said, ‘You know I think it was the secrets question.’ I said what secrets question?’ They said ‘Well to tell them a secret and why it’s hard to keep it.'”

Goldberg told Sloan he was furious to find out the question was on the exam. “I was just seething. It was an outrageous question to ask 9 year olds to reveal secrets on a test testing their writing skills,” Goldberg said.

The state Education Department says the question was reviewed and approved by both the department and a panel of teachers. The question is being tried out and will not count in the students’ scores.

Education Department spokesman Justin Barra says about 4,000 students in 15 districts had the question.

Barra says that like similar new questions, it will be reviewed before being used again.

Another standardized test question recently raised eyebrows in New York. Eighth graders taking an ELA reading exam were asked to read a nonsensical story about a pineapple who challenges a hare to a race.

CBS 2 talked to several child psychologists, and one called the secret question “ill-advised,” saying it had the potential of creating anxiety in children.

Another child psychologist CBS 2 talked to said the question poses another problem: Would the Department of Education turn over an answer to the Division of Youth and Family Services that deals with child abuse?

The Department of Education didn’t have an answer for CBS 2.

Do these sorts of questions on standardized tests make you question their effectiveness? Sound off in our comments section below. 

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)