Are Politicians Academically Ready?
I came across an article in the Huffington Post that talks about a politician in the state of Texas. The article, "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?", written by Jason Stanford, talks about Texas State Representative Gene Wu's exploration of the states's exam, State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR):
|Above figure copied from http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/staar/
Are you smarter than a 5th grader? For some Texas politicians, the answer is no.Gene Wu has been closely examining the assessment exam used in Texas. He recently issued the following memorandum:
Above downloaded from http://www.genefortexas.com/docs/STAAR_combo.pdf
And the following is one of the questions that Gene Wu chose to demonstrate "confusing, or even maddening":
|Above downloaded from http://www.genefortexas.com/docs/STAAR_combo.pdf
"Some of them refused to do it. Some of them gave it a good shot, did it, and said, 'I can see your point,' Some of them were like, 'Yeah, I did this, no problem.' That's great. So you're smarter than a 5th grader."I could see some of Wu's points in the above example. This question is not only testing a student's ability to subtract, but also a student's ability to read a thermometer, as well as fluency in English. However, there is nothing really wrong with the question. The problem lies in what the real intention behind the testing is, and how are the exam results going to be interpreted. Of course, the exam also comes with a huge price tag. Apparently, as Stanford's article mentions, "Texas is paying Pearson $468 million for this new test."
The example above is indeed a good question to weed out politicians who are not academically ready. It is a question that tests how one can read and do arithmetic. It is a question that we all really need to ask in elections.