State exam asks N.J. 3rd graders to write essay on secret they had kept

Is it okay to ask a child to reveal a secret?

Richard Goldberg doesn’t think so.

Goldberg, the father of 8-year old twin boys, was dismayed to learn his third-grade sons were asked to write an essay about a secret they had and why it was hard to keep.

The unusual question, which Goldberg called "entirely inappropriate" was on the standardized tests given to public school students in the third through eighth grade every spring.

He said he first learned about the essay when he questioned his sons about the difficulty of the annual test, which they had been preparing for at their Marlboro elementary school.

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"We’ve looked at this question in light of concerns raised by parents, and it is clear that this is not an appropriate question for a state test," Barra said.

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Bob Schaeffer, public education director of Fair Test, an organization that advocates for transparenmost standardized tests more than a decade ago, called the ‘secrets’ question "idiotic."

"What if the deep dark secret is molestation, or that your parents are about to get divorced? What kind of mind set is a child left with for the rest of the exam?" Schaeffer said. "This kind of serious error can make standardized tests even less useful than they normally are."

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The question did not seem troubling to Susan Engel, a lecturer in psychology and director of the teaching program at Williams University. Asking about secrets is a good way to get children to write, she said, and it’s unlikely such young children would bare their souls.

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Goldberg said he has been in contact with other parents in the neighborhood through Facebook and many are also dismayed. He said his sons were challenged by the question because they wanted to answer honestly, but also did not want to reveal something that would get them in trouble.

The Star-Ledger

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My oh my... all these years I thought 1984 was a movie, not an instruction manual. I guess East Germany is still alive and well, in the minds of our so called 'educators'.

What do you suppose they replace definitions of character and trust with? A 'herd' mentality and allegiance to the far left kook fringe?