School writing test topic upsets some parents

GILROY
– District officials said they had no idea that the chosen topic
for the district writing test – the Artic National Wildlife Refuge
– would cause a stir with some parents, and to correct the problem
will invite parents to help chose next year’s topic.
GILROY – District officials said they had no idea that the chosen topic for the district writing test – the Artic National Wildlife Refuge – would cause a stir with some parents, and to correct the problem will invite parents to help chose next year’s topic.

“I think some people may have misunderstood the purpose of this assessment,” said Jacki Horejs, district assistant superintendent. “(They may have been) misinformed that there was a political slant to this. There is certainly not one (that is) intentional.”

The sixth-grade writing assessment asked students to read an editorial from the New York Times regarding ANWR and the position to not allow drilling in the refuge. Students were then asked to write a persuasive letter to a senator advocating that no drilling to take place.

Horejs said she was contacted by several parents who voiced concerns that the topic was inappropriate and highly political and should not be used in a writing assessment for sixth graders.

“We never thought that that (assessment) could be interpreted as having a political slant,” Horejs said.

A committee made of district officials and teachers developed the district writing assessment over the course of the last year, and each grade level is instructed to write an different type of writing assignment. Students are given assignments such as writing persuasive letters and five paragraph essays. The committee chose ANWR because it was similar to other writing assignments examined, and “No one ever believed it would cause parental concerns,” Horejs said.

This is the first year that all grade levels – kindergarten through 12th – grade were assessed in writing by the district. Kindergarten students will not start testing until the week of May 20.

Parents will be invited to discuss the writing topic next year as part of the committee that chooses the topic.

For more information on the district writing assessment or the committee, contact the school district at 847-2700.

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