Terror Questions Out
That’s what Michigan officials determined after reviewing two questions related to terrorism on this year’s Michigan Educational Assessment Program high school test.
In a letter sent to school districts on Oct. 15, the Michigan Department of Treasury, which oversees the MEAP, advised test administrators to instruct students to skip the two questions in the social studies portion of the exam, or to staple or tape shut the relevant pages in their test booklets.
The questions, which deal with airport security and the use of luggage-searching procedures to guard against terrorism, will not be graded. One of the items is a short-answer question, while the other asks students to write an essay that makes a case for or against luggage searches as public policy.
The questions were written three years ago and printed in August—before the September attacks changed the way students might view a question on terrorism, said Terry Stanton, a treasury department spokesman.
“It’s a high-stress situation to begin with,” Mr. Stanton said of the MEAP. “The last thing we want to do is have one of our questions create a more stressful situation.”
Typically, the tests are given to juniors in the spring, but sophomores wishing to take the MEAP early and seniors needing to retake it will have the chance to do so this week.
“The principles of fair test design followed by the MEAP office demand that items which would cause some students undue emotional stress during testing be avoided,” the memo to local school districts said.
Department officials spoke with local educators before issuing the memo, and they agreed the questions should be skipped.
According to the memo, “The events of Sept. 11 made us reconsider having our high school students respond to this topic at this time.”
—Jessica L. Sandham
A version of this article appeared in the November 07, 2001 edition of Education Week