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Stupid Test Items

  • CST (2006)
    A student teacher comments: The correct answer was a). That the word relocated in a question could possibly be paired with an answer that has freedom in it is astonishing.

    Here are some other possib...
  • CST (2005)
    It strikes me as the height of hypocrisy to interrogate students on this famous remark of Thoreau. ...
  • SAT (2005)
    It seems necessary to identify this as humor because truth (real tests) is often more outlandish....
  • NAEP Question H (2001)
    Ohanian Comment: I remember studying this in 8th grade....
  • ASVAB (2005)
    Which one do you suppose the military wants?...
  • CST (2005)
    This test description is by California teacher George Sheridan...
  • 000 (2003)
    Call it my one-track mind, but this poem seems like an apt commentary on high-stakes testing.

    "Knowledge" by Susan Cataldo from Drenched: Selected Poems of Susan Cataldo 1979-1999. Telephone Books....
  • ISTEP+ (2002)
    How many adults are capable of writing a short story on any topic, making it interesting and exciting?

    How about writing a short story about a work site?

    Let's take this writing prompt to our political leaders ...
  • ISTEP+ (2004)
    The publisher provides truncated definitions, removing each example, to make the item more difficult. It also presents the definitions in paragraph form. In contrast, here is a genuine dictionary entry for the word cake. ...
  • CHSEE (2001)
    A seldom reported distractor item on tests is the huge disturbance caused by wildly inappropriate artwork. What was a high schooler hoping to pass the Spring 2001 California High School Exit Exam to make of the illustration stuck below "The Courage T...
  • BST (1997)
    I would suggest that regular is in the eye of the beholder....
  • OGT (2005)
    Below is the state of Ohio's question, followed by their critique and explanation. Just think of all the drills on "standard" English this will subject students to. And don't you wish the Explainer wrote better English?...
  • FCAT (2004)
    This item was offered to a Florida newspaper with this descriptor: This question is similar to those on the 10th-grade reading FCAT. There's more than one question. I guess we can assume they are all similar.

    Try doing this item--wi...
  • Terra Nova (2004)

    Here is a culturally biased item having little to do with reading comprehension. The young reader must answer that a kelp ball is not a baseball, a beach ball, or a balloon....
  • MCAS (2004)
    Here's the sentence that follows the sentence on which students are being interrogated:
    The McChoakumchild school was all fact, and the school of design was all fact, and the relations between master and man were all fact, and everything...
  • MCAS, Grade 8 (2004)
    Quick! What is the distance between Boston and Harcourt testing headquarters--in meters.

    This question has a lot wrong with it.

    1) Does ANYBODY except test item writers measure the distance between cities in meters?

    ...
  • MCAS (2003)
    Note that only one of the four questions requires reading the passage. Only two of the four have anything to do with reading comprehension, and even one of these is doubtful. A child does not have to know what quiver means to understand the pa...
  • DIBELS (2004)
    Read this sample from the test that is infecting young children across the country....
  • YUCK (2004)
    ...
  • CRCT (2004)
    What on earth are they trying to get at?...
  • CTB McGraw Hill (2000)
    If you think you know the answer to this question, try looking up pretzel in the encyclopedia. I found one sentence that might be termed historical in my old cookbook A World of Breads by Dolores Casella (David White 1966): "Old-time p...
  • PRAXIS (2003)
    The questions on this test required of professionals to keep their jobs raise an important issue: Is it the appropriate role of a paraprofessional to teach reading strategies?...
  • TCAP (2004)
    Obviously, many children will be at a disadvantage if they don't know what a lasso is.

    In question 2, I see a lot of opinions: Mike has an opinion on how to tie a lasso. He has an opinion about hard work. Someone thinks the calf's nose is...
  • ParaPro (2004)
    The fact that paraprofessionals making $8.00 an hour--or less--are beseiged by inappropriate NCLB credentialism rules goes ignored by the media....
  • CAT/TerraNova (2004)
    Isn't it ironic that a national testmaker quizzes kids on the concept of recess?...
  • LEAP21 (0)
    It's past time to launch a campaign informing authors of the execrable uses to which Standardistos and other profiteers put their creative works. Send in the name of authors whose work is used on standardized tests. Include the author, title of work,...
  • SOL (2004)
    OK, since I don't know the answer, I'm very sympathetic with fifth graders who don't know the answer. I worry about the curriculum required to produce a correct answer....

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