Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Fourth Grader Suspended For Refusing To Answer Exam Question

A fourth grader at Central Park Elementary School in Aberdeen, Washington was suspended for refusing to answer a question on an exam. The test, the Washington State Assessment of Student Learning exam, called WASL, is part of the state's No Child Left Behind test.

The question Tyler Stoken refused to answer was, "While looking out the window one day at school, you notice the principal flying in the air. In several paragraphs, write a story telling what happens." Tyler was afraid to write anything for fear of offending his school's principal. The exam asked students to write the first thing that came to their mind, and the first thing that came into Tyler's mind was that the principal was a witch flying on a broom. He liked the principal, and didn't want to offend her by writing about her as a witch. Apparently offended anyway, the principal suspended him for .

Because Tyler didn't answer the question, (school Principal Olivia) McCarthy suspended him for five days. He recalls the principal reprimanding him by saying his test score could bring down the entire school's performance.

"Good job, bud, you've ruined it for everyone in the school, the teachers and the school," Tyler says McCarthy told him.

McCarthy's May 6, 2005, letter to Tyler's mother detailed her son's suspension. "The fact that Tyler chose to simply refuse to work on the WASL after many reasonable requests is none other than blatant defiance and insubordination," McCarthy wrote.

In the letter, she accused Tyler of bringing down the average score of the other 10 students in his class. "As we have worked so hard this year to improve our writing skills, this is a particularly egregious wound," McCarthy wrote.

Her accusation was wrong, state regulations show. There is no averaging of the writing scores. Each student either meets or fails the state standard.

I hope there's some outrage over this in the Aberdeen community.