Annals of avoidance

Words of One Syllable Department. From David Barnhart on ADS-L, this link to a CNN story by Brian Vitagliano:

New York city schools want to ban ‘loaded words’ from tests

New York (CNN) – Divorce. Dinosaurs, Birthdays. Religion. Halloween. Christmas. Television. These are a few of the 50-plus words and references the New York City Department of Education is hoping to ban from the city’s standardized tests.

More details:

The banned word list was made public – and attracted considerable criticism – when the city’s education department recently released this year’s “request for proposal” The request for proposal is sent to test publishers around the country trying to get the job of revamping math and English tests for the City of New York.

The Department of Education’s says that avoiding sensitive words on tests is nothing new, and that New York City is not the only locale to do so. California avoids the use of the word “weed” on tests and Florida avoids the phrases that use “Hurricane” or “Wildfires,” according to a statement by the New York City Department of Education.

In its request for proposal, the NYC Department of Education explained it wanted to avoid certain words if the “the topic is controversial among the adult population and might not be acceptable in a state-mandated testing situation; the topic has been overused in standardized tests or textbooks and is thus overly familiar and/or boring to students; the topic appears biased against (or toward) some group of people.”

Matthew Mittenthal, a spokesman for the NYC Department of Education, said this is the fifth year they have created such a list.  He said such topics “could evoke unpleasant emotions in the students.”

.. the use of the word “birthday” or the phrase “birthday celebrations” may offend Jehovah’s Witnesses, who do not celebrate birthdays. A spokesperson for the Jehovah’s Witnesses declined to comment on the use of the word “birthday.”

[Also on the “avoid” list: “Rock ’n’ Roll” and references to types of food, such as pepperoni, which “persons of some religions or cultures may not indulge in”]

I hadn’t realized that test anxiety had reached such levels.


3 Responses to “Annals of avoidance”

  1. the ridger Says:

    Wow. I’m amazed they have anything to actually talk about.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      I suppose this is going to be pilloried as Political Correctness run amok, but it looks to me like something very different: Cover Your Ass by administrators. Still sad.

  2. the ridger Says:

    Yes, I’m sure you’re right. Better Safe Than Sorry.

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