Friday, August 15, 2014

Five Magic Questions

Enable Parents to Debate the Issues

In 1996 Anita Hoge devised and distributed widely the following useful tool for parents’ groups to use in testimony before state legislatures and local school boards. The questions reveal the disturbing psychological aspect of assessment testing and curriculum being given to children. It is alarming when one considers that the State has defined the criteria upon which these affective standards will be scored, and assigned a passing or fail grade, and will prescribe remediation in order to get the child to measure up to State-defined par. 

These questions are still current and pertinent to Common Core, etc. They serve as an excellent educational tool to equip parents with the right questions they can ask the next time disturbing things begin to happen to their children and their schools. The text of the pamphlet is reproduced below in its entirety:


Education regulations or laws state which standards or outcomes your child needs to meet to graduate. Many of the outcomes are vague and subjective. Look at the verbs. This shows why these outcomes are impossible to measure objectively. An example under a category like “Citizenship” states, “All students will negotiate and cooperate with others.” The Five Magic Questions parents can use to win the debate when outcomes reflect subjective or vague areas are:

1. How do you measure that outcome? If an outcome states that “all children must have ethical judgment, honesty, or integrity,” what exactly is going to be measured? How do you measure a bias in a child in order for him to graduate? Must children be diagnosed? Will they be graded by observation or pencil or paper tests? How will performance or behavior be addressed?

2. How is that outcome scored or what is the standard? What behavior is “Appropriate” and to what degree? For example, how much self-esteem is too much or not enough to graduate? Can government score the attitudes and values of its citizens?

3. Who decides what that standard will be? The state has extended their mandated graduation requirements or exit outcomes down to the individual child. This bypasses all local autonomy. What about locally elected school directors? Will they become obsolete? Are we talking about a state or government diploma?

4. How will my child be remediated? What are you going to do to my children to change them from here to there in their attitudes and values in order to graduate? How do you remediate ethical judgment, decision-making, interpersonal skills, environmental attitudes? What techniques will be used? What risks are involved? What justification does the state have to change my children’s attitudes?

5. What if parent and state disagree on the standard or how it is measured in the classroom? Who has the ultimate authority over the child? What about privacy? Can parents opt out of a graduation requirement of the state?

All children must meet the same fixed standard of “future citizen” or not graduate, go to college, or get a job. Your child is human capital. This is why the state wants control of the graduation requirement—and that is why local school boards must create policy to stop the state from exerting power over elected officials. Ask this question: Do you want equity in opportunity, or do you want equity in standards?

Watch Anita B. Hoge discuss "The End Game of Assessment" on YouTube: This post is reproduced with some minor alteration from pp. 367-368 of the deliberate dumbing down of america.