New York to ban "loaded words"

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/28/new-york-city-schools-ban-loaded-words-from-tests/

I know this is a little old, but I thought it would be good discussion. I checked, and it seems no one has posted this yet.

New York city schools want to ban 'loaded words' from tests

By Brian Vitagliano, CNN

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.

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."

"Dinosaurs" evoking unpleasant emotions? The New York Post speculated that the "dinosaurs" could "call to mind evolution, which might upset fundamentalists."

But what the tabloid failed to realize is that those "fundamentalists" who oppose evolution on religious grounds, believe wholeheartedly in dinosaurs.

Young Earth creationists, or Biblical creationists as they prefer to be called, often point to dinosaurs in making their arguments. They say dinosaurs and humans roamed Earth together, citing legends of dragons and say the fossil record shows the earth is 6,000 years old, though few paleontologists and geologists share this theory.

At the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, the heart of the Young Earth Creationism movement, dinosaur models and exhibits fill the museum displays and gift shop.

Apparently many of the words on New York's list were avoided because of faith-based concerns.

For instance, 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."

The Department of Education would not go on the record to explain the specific reasons for each word, which has left many to speculate and draw their own conclusions.

Halloween may suggest paganism; divorce may conjure up uneasy feelings for children in the midst of a divorce within their family. One phrase that may surprise many, the term "Rock 'n' Roll" was on the "avoid" list.

Piers Morgan's "Only in America": 50 banned words

And not good news for Italians: the Department of Education also advised avoiding references to types of food, such as pepperoni, products they said "persons of some religions or cultures may not indulge in."

The Department of Education said, "This is standard language that has been used by test publishers for many years and allows our students to complete practice exams without distraction."

Stanford University Professor Sam Wineburg is an expert in the field of education and director of the Stanford History Education Group.

When reached by phone said Wineburg, after a brief pause on the line, "the purpose of education is to create unpleasant experiences in us. ... The Latin meaning if education is 'to go out.' Education is not about making us feel warm and fuzzy inside."

Wineburg questioned the idea that the New York City Department of Education would want to "shield kids from these types of encounters." He said the goal of education is to "prepare them," adding "this is how we dumb down public schools."

So what do you think of this?

Ultratwinkie:
http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/28/new-york-city-schools-ban-loaded-words-from-tests/

I know this is a little old, but I thought it would be good discussion. I checked, and it seems no one has posted this yet.

New York city schools want to ban 'loaded words' from tests

By Brian Vitagliano, CNN

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.

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."

"Dinosaurs" evoking unpleasant emotions? The New York Post speculated that the "dinosaurs" could "call to mind evolution, which might upset fundamentalists."

But what the tabloid failed to realize is that those "fundamentalists" who oppose evolution on religious grounds, believe wholeheartedly in dinosaurs.

Young Earth creationists, or Biblical creationists as they prefer to be called, often point to dinosaurs in making their arguments. They say dinosaurs and humans roamed Earth together, citing legends of dragons and say the fossil record shows the earth is 6,000 years old, though few paleontologists and geologists share this theory.

At the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, the heart of the Young Earth Creationism movement, dinosaur models and exhibits fill the museum displays and gift shop.

Apparently many of the words on New York's list were avoided because of faith-based concerns.

For instance, 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."

The Department of Education would not go on the record to explain the specific reasons for each word, which has left many to speculate and draw their own conclusions.

Halloween may suggest paganism; divorce may conjure up uneasy feelings for children in the midst of a divorce within their family. One phrase that may surprise many, the term "Rock 'n' Roll" was on the "avoid" list.

Piers Morgan's "Only in America": 50 banned words

And not good news for Italians: the Department of Education also advised avoiding references to types of food, such as pepperoni, products they said "persons of some religions or cultures may not indulge in."

The Department of Education said, "This is standard language that has been used by test publishers for many years and allows our students to complete practice exams without distraction."

Stanford University Professor Sam Wineburg is an expert in the field of education and director of the Stanford History Education Group.

When reached by phone said Wineburg, after a brief pause on the line, "the purpose of education is to create unpleasant experiences in us. ... The Latin meaning if education is 'to go out.' Education is not about making us feel warm and fuzzy inside."

Wineburg questioned the idea that the New York City Department of Education would want to "shield kids from these types of encounters." He said the goal of education is to "prepare them," adding "this is how we dumb down public schools."

So what do you think of this?

I think we as a country have far more important things to worry about. Things like this are petty.

I think it was posted on the Off Topic forum a while back, though the OP there sensationalized it and made the falsely exaggerated claim that students wouldn't even be allowed to bring up the topics. I'm having dinner in a bit so I won't go searching for it right this minute. I'll dig it up later unless someone else does it first. I know I posted a link to a site with (supposedly) the entire list of words in that thread.

But, to put it simply, I think it's pretty stupid.

Now America just needs to do this with all its news stations, politics, etc, and the world will be a slightly better place. I don't really see why they'd need to include these words in the first place in a test, but don't think they should exclude them like this. And they should definitely include dinosaurs in tests more, I can't imagine anyone being offended by them.

It's idiotic?

If you're going to ban words, at least have a valid reason. You could technically ban every single word in existence if you go down the pseudo-offensive road. Divorce is the only valid word mentioned, although should only be applied to younger kids--and even then, it'd be better to explain those sorts of things to kids (shouldn't be in tests though.)

I understand why they want to ban Christmas, etc., even though they're wrong. But why is television on there?

It's stupid shit like this that make me not give a damn about societies views on law, rules, ethics, etc. If you can't get simple things like this right, how am I meant to take the rest of what you think seriously? I can't, because you become the laughing stock of myself.

While the US has some of the more ridiculous things, every country has their fair share of dumbassery.

Eh...taking them out of standardised tests isn't a big deal, I'd say go for it on the off chance it make help something.

I can't see any particular reason why you need to talk about how the dinosaurs cause wildfires at Christmas, especially as Christmas isn't the fire season in the US.

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.

...

Stanford University Professor Sam Wineburg is an expert in the field of education and director of the Stanford History Education Group.

When reached by phone said Wineburg, after a brief pause on the line, "the purpose of education is to create unpleasant experiences in us. ... The Latin meaning if education is 'to go out.' Education is not about making us feel warm and fuzzy inside."

Wineburg questioned the idea that the New York City Department of Education would want to "shield kids from these types of encounters." He said the goal of education is to "prepare them," adding "this is how we dumb down public schools."

The mistake, of course, is in thinking that standardized tests have something to do with education other than (maybe) measuring it. It's perfectly legitimate to try to make the tests as fair as possible. This is not about the curriculum unless the curriculum is designed to teach directly to the test which would be its own problem.

I'm sorry, but this is just fucking stupid.

What if I form a group that's offended by the use of indefinite articles? Are they going to ban the word 'A'?

It's not the word's fault if it gets loaded. It's the loading that should be cracked down on, not the words.

About the only one that makes sense to me is

In-depth discussions of sports that require prior knowledge

It seems reasonable that standardized tests shouldn't ask questions involving games or whatnot that the students might not know the rules of. If I got a question on my math exam about the probability of some event happening in a game of Bridge, I wouldn't have a damned clue where to start. So that makes sense.

The rest are either sensitive enough to not be put on tests in the first place (pornography, slavery, alcohol) or just fucking stupid (evolution, running away, Halloween). Basically, I don't see the point. I'm not in an outrage over it since it just affects the language of standardized tests, but the entire concept is pretty stupid.

So beyond stupid I can't even come up with words.

Hurricane is a "loaded" word?

Weed?

DINOSAUR?

What the $#&( is a "loaded" word anyway? A word that somebody that takes some minor offense to? Don't they know that on every person has been offended in some way by every single word in the English language? I hate using words like "monkey" just because I can't take any subject relating to it seriously.

And your attempt to avoid offending creationists doesn't even OFFEND THEM.

Just... what the @#$%?

...dinosaurs... is a loaded word... the fuck?

Smithburg:
...dinosaurs... is a loaded word... the fuck?

It is when a sizable portion of your electorate believes the earth is 5000 years old...

OT: Nothing really controversial, in my opinion. It just deals with what's covered on their tests. As such, the thread title is extremely misleading in its wording

ah america when ever im having a bad day you guys can always do something nonsensical to make me laugh

So it's going to be a criminal offense to get drunk in NY and say "Wow, I'm loaded"?

Dinosaurs is a loaded word.

So... when are you guys getting that re-edit of Cosmos for rednecks? I'd wager they'll do it. And they'll call it something like "Cosmos: the tolerant and neutral version".

...and the hysterics begin.

The principle behind this list is neither new nor controversial. These are words not to be used on tests. Not even all tests, but specific city standardized tests. It has nothing to do with general classroom activity. Let's everyone please try and keep our heads, shall we?

And the principle that things which require cultural knowledge or which have negative emotional impact should be avoided on tests is nothing new. If wording on a test brings up feelings of trauma or offense, that lowers student performance without giving us information on the student's ability level- in other words, it makes the test less accurate. Tests should be expected to be accurate. This isn't controversial.

But then there is a community in this country desperately trying to make the narrative stick that folks in New York hate our freedom. So who needs truth when you have an agenda to push?

The only mistake NYC made is publishing the list without publishing the explanation. Frankly this should have been a memo that never left the office in the Department of Education that oversees the the city's standardized testing. There is no reason anyone in the public needs to see the list, but because we are a nation with a lot of vocal dumbasses, if the list is to be published it should probably come with copious amounts of explanation.

You know what I would like out of standardized tests? Everything seriously we put so much emphasis on the and they are utterly worthless. You just memorize answers that will quickly fade from your mind.

As absolutely absurd as it is i can honestly understand some of it like for instance "divorce" even the ones dealing with food as they do distract people from the way the test is set up which is the generally "pick the best answer who cares if you understand what it means" kind of attitude which requires a level of focus on a very repetitive tedious task in which any beak of focus is detrimental, but that only truly serves to show just how pointless most of these tests are.

...Dinosaurs? Halloween?

I mean...

What...

How does this even...

Fuck it, theres nothing else I can say about this.

>murrica

Katatori-kun:
And the principle that things which require cultural knowledge or which have negative emotional impact should be avoided on tests is nothing new. If wording on a test brings up feelings of trauma or offense, that lowers student performance without giving us information on the student's ability level- in other words, it makes the test less accurate. Tests should be expected to be accurate. This isn't controversial.

Maybe you guys should drop the tests until your kids dont link dinosaurs with controversy and negative emotions. Just an idea.

Im starting to feel like the guy from Idiocracy. And this is coming from a guy who still refuses to use apostrophes half the time.

SmashLovesTitanQuest:
Maybe you guys should drop the tests until your kids dont link dinosaurs with controversy and negative emotions.

If you mean to suggest that we should get rid of standardized testing, I am all for that. Right now I'd say the biggest thing holding back the US educationally-speaking is this notion that a teacher should be evaluated by how their students perform on a standardized measure as opposed to how students perform against where they were when they started the course.

Unfortunately there's not much we can say on the issue of dinosaurs because there's no rationale given for their exclusion. But assuming the reason was because students found them controversial or causing negative emotions, it's not the place of the standardized test maker to decide what words students should or should not be comfortable with. Their job is to assess. Nothing more. If a word is not essential to assessing the mental construct being measured and introduces error by triggering a culture-specific emotional response, that word should be removed from the standardized test.

I don't fault the general public for not understanding this. I wouldn't know anything about the nuances of test design if I wasn't literally taking a class in it as we speak. I do fault the NYC department of education though, for not better explaining why they made the choices they did. I also fault people who report this story while grossly misrepresenting the content.

Im starting to feel like the guy from Idiocracy.

Better be careful. Almost everyone I know who overly identified with that movie has turned out to be a bit overly judgmental or a bit overly insecure about how their intellect stacks up with others.

Katatori-kun:

SmashLovesTitanQuest:
Maybe you guys should drop the tests until your kids dont link dinosaurs with controversy and negative emotions.

If you mean to suggest that we should get rid of standardized testing, I am all for that. Right now I'd say the biggest thing holding back the US educationally-speaking is this notion that a teacher should be evaluated by how their students perform on a standardized measure as opposed to how students perform against where they were when they started the course.

Unfortunately there's not much we can say on the issue of dinosaurs because there's no rationale given for their exclusion. But assuming the reason was because students found them controversial or causing negative emotions, it's not the place of the standardized test maker to decide what words students should or should not be comfortable with. Their job is to assess. Nothing more. If a word is not essential to assessing the mental construct being measured and introduces error by triggering a culture-specific emotional response, that word should be removed from the standardized test.

I don't fault the general public for not understanding this. I wouldn't know anything about the nuances of test design if I wasn't literally taking a class in it as we speak. I do fault the NYC department of education though, for not better explaining why they made the choices they did. I also fault people who report this story while grossly misrepresenting the content.

Well, im glad we can agree on one thing, namely that standardized tests are a load of bullocks.

Katatori-kun:
Better be careful. Almost everyone I know who overly identified with that movie has turned out to be a bit overly judgmental or a bit overly insecure about how their intellect stacks up with others.

I actually just said that because I was watching it in the background when I posted. I know exactly how my intellect stacks up against others, in terms of IQ anyway.

Didnt like it, by the way. Very dull humor, which is amusing when you think about it.

Katatori-kun:
...and the hysterics begin.

The principle behind this list is neither new nor controversial. These are words not to be used on tests. Not even all tests, but specific city standardized tests. It has nothing to do with general classroom activity. Let's everyone please try and keep our heads, shall we?

And the principle that things which require cultural knowledge or which have negative emotional impact should be avoided on tests is nothing new. If wording on a test brings up feelings of trauma or offense, that lowers student performance without giving us information on the student's ability level- in other words, it makes the test less accurate. Tests should be expected to be accurate. This isn't controversial.

If people are impaired by a cultural thing holding them back, they should score lower on tests, because their functioning is by all means impaired.

And why are people pissed. Well, capitulating to creationists has always been a bad idea. That's how they claim the public space by being butthurt untill all knowledge that contradicts their dogma has been banned.

Not going along in such pursuits should be a matter of principle, especially in education.

I mean, what's next if we do allow that?

"Question 1: Jack and Susan calculate the formula 4x(2+6) = ? Jack gets 14. Susan gets 32, which is right?"

Because of such actions by religious zealouts, being turned into something zealots agree with, like:
"Question 1: Jack and Susan calculate the formula 4x(2+6) = ? Jack gets 14. Susan gets 32, which is right, considering allah says women are only half as usefull as men and thus Susan is far more likely to get it wrong, and god says women shouldn't be doing maths because they should be restricted to the household?"

Blablahb:

Katatori-kun:
...and the hysterics begin.

The principle behind this list is neither new nor controversial. These are words not to be used on tests. Not even all tests, but specific city standardized tests. It has nothing to do with general classroom activity. Let's everyone please try and keep our heads, shall we?

And the principle that things which require cultural knowledge or which have negative emotional impact should be avoided on tests is nothing new. If wording on a test brings up feelings of trauma or offense, that lowers student performance without giving us information on the student's ability level- in other words, it makes the test less accurate. Tests should be expected to be accurate. This isn't controversial.

If people are impaired by a cultural thing holding them back, they should score lower on tests, because their functioning is by all means impaired.

There's a difference between being impaired and being unfamiliar. If, for example, they are unfamiliar with birthdays, that isn't an impairment and it isn't relevant to what is being tested.

The reasoning behind restricting some words in that environment is sound

The reasoning behind a few of the specific words on the list is questionable, but matter little in the long run.

Beyond that, I don't see that there is much else to say on the matter.

Katatori-kun:

Better be careful. Almost everyone I know who overly identified with that movie has turned out to be a bit overly judgmental or a bit overly insecure about how their intellect stacks up with others.

Everyone I know loves that movie like it's some kind of secret cult classic, which I suppose it is, but I never thought it was funny. What is it about that movie that makes it so great?

OT: Yes, I think a standardized test should avoid loaded words. Like racial slurs. But a lot of those words listed just don't make sense to me.

Stupid. This country is getting so fucking lame... more and more. Lets ban some controversial words because they might make someone emotional. This political correctness BS is insane.

ruthaford_jive:
Stupid. This country is getting so fucking lame... more and more. Lets ban some controversial words because they might make someone emotional. This political correctness BS is insane.

I have citizenship in 3 countries (one is EU so many countries), I'll stick around until I can't avoid the stupid anymore then move on. Still some semi sane states out there so that won't be for a while

I'm confused. When I took standardized tests, every reading comprehension story was a minority success story and every math question required prior knowledge of basic games. ALL MY STANDARDIZED TESTS WERE LOADED AND I NEVER KNEW!!!!

It's hard to know precisely what's going on here, as the article doesn't explain the background thinking.

However, I can think of some stuff that might be under consideration.

Cultural difference do alter many test performances, as many questions may be (unintentionally) loaded with expectations of cultural knowledge that may influence ability to answer a question that is only supposed to test abstract learning. Similarly, neutralising emotional interference may be desirable. For instance, in a state where wildfires are a risk or will have even threatened some examinees in the past, a question may induce anxiety that interferes with their thought processes.

 

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