Curriculum

Turning the Tables: Teens Design Test

By Lynn Olson — February 15, 2005 1 min read

Students who are sick of standardized tests have turned the tables and challenged adults to take an exam that teenagers designed.

The General Assessment of Grownups, or GAG test, measures how much parents, teachers, principals, and other adults know about teenage culture.

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A link to the GAG test is available from Cottonwood Press.

Middle and high school students from California, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Texas, and Wisconsin wrote the questions. Participating teachers asked students to write questions they believed young people just about anywhere in the United States could answer. The items were compiled and condensed into a 50-question test by the project’s sponsor, Cottonwood Press Inc., a Fort Collins, Colo., company that sells educational products.

The test includes such items as: “How many numbered Grand Theft Auto games are there?” “Where is ‘South Park’located?” and “What does LOL mean?”

“Any kid who is into mainstream music, video games, and TV—which is the majority of youth today—could easily ace this test,” Zachary Miller of La Junta, Colo., said in a press release. The 16-year-old took the test and got an A.

Unfortunately, this reporter got an F, or only 56 percent correct. “Where have you been the last few decades?” the online-scoring report asked.

In fact, most adults don’t score above a D or an F on the test, at least if they’re older than 30, according to Cheryl Thurston, a former teacher and the president of Cottonwood Press, who came up with the idea.

(Of 23 Education Week employees who took the test, 12 got an F; seven, a D; and four, a C.)

“This focus on testing is insane,” Ms.Thurston said in an interview. “People are focusing on the tests to the exclusion, I think, of real learning. I just think it’s ludicrous, and I just wanted to point out the ludicrousness of it by letting the kids construct the test.”

This reporter, at least, better ask her teenagers for some tutoring.

A version of this article appeared in the February 16, 2005 edition of Education Week

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