Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Old School 8th grade test

While reviewing the 'vintage' 8th grade test I came across numerous things that wouldn't fly in today's schools, all of which are listed and reflected upon below. 

1. The grading subsections- 'orthography' which in theory has now been changed to spelling and grammar etc. (which is really just rolled into one umbrella ELA grade). Should this have changed? It's really subjective, however after careful consideration I would say that with the ever too commonly found lack of spelling and grammar skills in today's youth (due to the freedom of social networking/ messaging) it might be a good idea to hold students accountable for what comes gushing from their brains (metaphorically). 

2. Physiology and hygiene- One must assume that the Physiology is just an old school way of saying 'phys ed' which of course is still graded. However, the 'hygiene' part is something that has changed dramatically. Unfortunately, a student's hygiene has morphed into somewhat of a 'pretend it doesn't exist' kind of topic. For whatever reason, teachers don't want to discuss with their students when hygiene is a problem. Awkwardness can be a killer. 

3. "Write a page on the points of the West Virginia Standard Boy or Girl" 
      What is a student supposed to even give as an answer to this? This of course cannot be used today as America pushes for equality between sexes etc. etc.

Overall, there are a lot of things that can be used from this test that may have been dropped over time (for example the number of open response questions as opposed to multiple choice drone questions). Unfortunately, there are also a lot of questions that just seem barbaric. 


  1. What I find interesting about these old assessments is that some of the questions are still good, yet some (as you point out) are simply not good.

    The contest for these tests is one where information was still relatively scarce (i.e. only existing in the teacher's head) and schools were given a mission of preparing students for factory (in this case mining) and some degree of being a productive citizen.

  2. The West Virginia Standard charts (one for boys, the other for girls) were the state-level academic standards of the day. They specified what, in each subject, should be attained during a given school grade by those boys and girls who had not dropped out before that grade. The term was as well known in West Virginia, during the years in which these standards were in effect, as the term "Common Core" is nationally known today. Students who were being asked to describe some points of being a West Virginia Standard Boy or Girl were, in other words, being asked to describe some of the curricular requirements that applied to them.