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TO: The Most Supreme Ruler of the Planet Kronhorst
FROM: X!Frumious the Explorer, currently stationed on Earth
RE: The discovery of standardized tests within the universe
Dear Most Grand Leader of Kronhorst,
Greetings from Earth! As you know, my team of explorers and I have been spending some lime on this planet to learn more about its culture and people. For the most part, I can tell you that human beings are intelligent, kind, and helpful, unless you happen to be driving too slow in the left lane of the highway; then, its a WHOLE different story, and not one I can tell you with the interplanetary censors around. It is interesting to note that, like every other species we have encountered in the universe, humans have invented the sport which we know as clickvellsgerstoof and which they call "professional wrestling:" There is, however, one thing that humans have invented that exists nowhere else in known space -- standardized testing.
Eager to learn all we could about standardized tests, my crew and I looked for a place on Earth to land. Almost everyone I talked to warned me that once the Earthlings saw my crew and me, they would run screaming from our bizarre appearance -- but when we landed in Manhattan's East Village, no such thing occurred (although I did lose 20 human dollars on something called a "card game.")
Lucky for us we landed in New York, because once there we discovered some standardized tests known as the New York State 8th Grade exams. We soon learned that these tests were first given in 1999 as the focal point of a new, tougher set of academic standards set forth by EducationCommissioner Richard Mills. Mr. Mills made testing at all grade levels the focal point of his agenda, toughening the academic standards and changing the format of the test to a multiple-day, diverse-question set-up.
Here's a brief description of the tests:
Overview: 8th Grade New York State Tests
English Language Arts: Two 90-minute sessions
* Read 4 passages and answer 25 multiple-choice questions
* Listen to a passage and write 3 short responses and 1 extended response
* Read 2 related passages and write 3 short responses and 1 extended response
* Write a composition
Mathematics: Two 70-minute sessions
* Answer 27 multiple-choice questions
* Answer 4 short-response and 2 extended-response questions
* Answer 8 short-response and 4 extended-response questions
Science: Two sessions
* Answer roughly 45 multiple-choice and open-ended questions (2 hours)
* Perform various scientific procedures at three lab stations (1 hour)
Social Studies: Two 90-minute sessions
* Answer 45 multiple-choice and 3 or 4 extended-response questions
* Answer 1 document-based question
Technology Assessment: One 90-minute session
* Answer about 40 multiple-choice and 10 extended response questions
Scoring For the ELA and Math exams, you will receive a final score of 1 (deficient) through 4 (advanced). Scoring methods for the Science, Social Studies, and Technology Assessment exams were not finalized at the time of publication.
On multiple-choice questions, you'll receive credit only for those questions that you answer correctly. On open-ended questions, you can receive partial credit.
There is no penalty for wrong answers, and an answer left blank receives no credit.
Calculators Not permitted on multiple-choice section but required for rest of math test.
So as you can see, O Great Ruler, the New York State tests are much harder than the typical Kronhorsti test, and the students have fewer brains to help them.
In the spirit of pioneering, I, X!Frumious the Explorer, decided to become the first Kronhorstian to take and pass the 8th Grade tests. I put on the regulation human disguise -- these Earthlings have only two legs, how can they dance? -- and enrolled at Eastbury High School in Albany. I made some mistakes on the first day I was in school, such as eating a cafeteria bench, but soon I fit right in with the rest of the student body. However, after attending some classes, I realized that having a high-school degree from a distant planet doesn't mean you can pass an eighth-grade standardized test.
You see, the 8th Grade Tests were designed by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) to see how well students were mastering the state's curriculum. The exams provide a way for NYSED to determine whether or not a student has mastered the skill objectives for his or her grade level.
It's a good arrangement, but it meant I was going to need human help if I wanted to pass the tests. Fortunately, I found four Eastbury students who asked me to join their study group. It turns out that the phrase "study group" means the same thing in English as it does in Kronhorsti, except in a human study group there's no major surgery involved. This study group already had people who were specialists in the different test-taking areas, but they needed someone to take notes. I eagerly volunteered to be the study group note taker, and everyone was happy.
The members of my study group are:
Daniel Bryant, who specializes in test-taking strategies. He'll also lead our social studies section
Ridley Anderson, an expert at mathematics
Angela Lupino, the English language arts guru
William Walker, also known as "Willy H2SO4," who is in charge of the essay and science sections.
And of course there is me, X!Frumious, the group recorder.
O Exalted Ruler, I have provided the notes of our study group meetings on the following pages so that you might learn as much about the 8th Grade tests as I have. I have also included testlike questions throughout this book so you can try out your skills on sample problems. It's my belief that anyone who learns the techniques discussed in this book and goes on to use them on the exams will be able to pass these tests, regardless of what planet he or she originally came from.
I Remain Your Humble Citizen,
X!Frumious the Explorer, of the planet Kronhorst
Copyright © 2001 by Anaxos Inc.