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N.J. Education Officials Will No Longer Use ‘Secret’ Standardized Test Question

Students were asked about their secrets on an exam this past week. (credit: CBS 2)

Students were asked about their secrets on an exam this past week. (credit: CBS 2)

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) - New Jersey education officials will no longer use a standardized test question that asked third-graders to reveal a secret and write about why it was difficult 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 past week. And it drew criticism from some parents, who thought it was inappropriate.

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

“Well, what was the hardest question on the test?,” Goldberg said he asked his sons. “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 Department of Education said that the question was reviewed and approved by it and a panel of teachers. They said it was only being tried out and would not count in the students’ scores.

But after further review, Department of Education spokesman Justin Barra said that the question won’t be included in future tests.

Barra said that about 4,000 students in 15 districts had the question.

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.

New Jersey parents, are you relieved to see this question gone? Share your thoughts and comments below…

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