High school test standards: How hard can this be?

Granted, Minnesota kids are supposed to be above average. But one would expect even more of kids from Cambridge, in the shadow of Harvard, right?

That’s what Phillip Greenspun thinks. A school in his fair city achieved the distinction of the lowest grade on that state’s high school biology standards test; lower, he notes, than the immigrant-laden Brockton and Lawrence. All for $23,000 in school spending per student.

Here’s a sample of the test:

1) If scientists search other planets for possible life, they are likely to focus on the presence of molecules containing which of the following elements?

A. carbon

B. iron

C. potassium

D. sodium

2) A hurricane sweeps across a small Caribbean island, killing 50 percent of the herbivore species on the island. Which of the following is the most immediate result?

A. a reduction in biodiversity

B. an acceleration of the carbon cycle

C. an increase in predator populations

D. a decline in decomposer populations

3) In a mouse population inhabiting a grassland area, a mutation occurs that results in a new coat color allele. Which of the following factors has the greatest effect on whether the new coat color will become more common in the mouse population?

A. whether abundant food is available in the grassland

B. whether the new coat color allele is dominant or recessive

C. whether the rate of reproduction in the mouse population is stable

D. whether the new coat color allele increases the survival of mice in their environment

A,A, D, in case you didn’t know. Which, of course, BNG didn’t.

How about Minnesota kids? This state doesn’t — at least up to now — test kids on science; the emphasis in the state has been on math and reading.

That’s changing. This year, for the first time, kids will be tested on science.

Because BNG is a member of an older generation, he is inclined to chortle about the knowledge level of today’s kids. “Bring it on,” he is alleged to have declared, in advance of seeing a sample of the test.


Lucky shot. Give him another!




BNG went 0 for 6, if you include the ones not answered. Take that, Cambridge!

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