You can take sample tests here. Click on the "parents" link and it will give you a logon ID and password. Yes, it's password protected, but they give you the password. I refer to this as "the first sign of the problem."
You have to disable pop-up blockers for it to work. But the first 5 social studies questions for 7th graders are pasted below. Failure rates for 6th and 7th grade social studies ran upward of 70 percent.
Thanks to Julie Hubbard, our education reporter, for finding these sample tests online for me.
1. With the use of satellites and other new technologies, worldwide communication has improved. Which of the following is the MOST LIKELY result of this communication revolution?
a. Business has become more international.
b. The need for air travel has been reduced.
c. The need for studying foreign languages has decreased.
d. Large companies have been split into many small companies.
This is a ridiculous freaking question. Both A and B are reasonable answers.
2. A major belief of the ancient Japanese Shinto religion was
a. the existence of a caste system.
b. worship of Allah.
c. reverence for ancestors.
d. a belief in reincarnation.
3. Which of the following is the most significant historical development in the Islamic world during the period from a.d. 700 to 1200?
a. Suez Canal was completed.
b. Major achievements were made in art and science.
c. Muslim influence spread as new lands were conquered.
d. Ethnic disagreements led to isolated tribal kingdoms.
Three questions in and all three have been, to some extent, subjective. They use the words "likely," "major" and, now, the worst: "most significant." Why would you ask a subjective multiple choice question?
4. Throughout African history, the search for fertile soil has led to many migrations. What has been an important result of these migrations?
a. changes in national boundaries
b. development of roads and transportation systems
c. establishment of cities and towns
d. mixing of ethnic groups and language forms
Another subjective question, turning on the word "important." These questions read like you can only find the answer in one history book. I suppose this is what's known as "teaching to the test." I remember questions like these when I was in school. They make me want to punch someone in the face.
5. If your teacher asks you to create a time line of important political events that occurred in Japan from 1880 to 1889, he or she is asking for a time line about a specific
A reasonable, if overly simple, question. Though I imagine the question writer meant "through 1889" and no "to 1889."
Now, on to 8th grade math, which something like 40 percent of students failed:
1. Tom has 4 blue shirts, 5 beige shirts, 6 white shirts, and 3 maroon shirts. His closet is not arranged in any order. If Tom reaches in and pulls out one shirt without looking, what is the probability of it being either a maroon or a blue shirt?
2. Lily and Mary took turns feeding the cat. During the first 60 days of the year, Lily fed the cat 3/5 of the time. How many days did Mary feed the cat during this period?
3. What is the positive square root of 16?
4. A novel is 144 pages long. If Jorge has read the first 36 pages, what percent of the book has he completed?
5. Which number is NOT between 21.8 and 21.9?
Those seem much fairer, though none of them seem particularly hard. They're clearly written to test a grasp of basic concepts. It's hard for me to believe so many kids failed a test with questions like these. But, then, I attended public schools in Cobb County, the best county in the world.
By the way, the math answers: c. 7/18, c. 36, c. 4, b. 25% and d. 21.91.
The social studies answers seem pretty irrelevant to me.