2006_10_browniecow.jpgLearnin' ain't what it used to be. Gothamist is so glad we're not a small child in the public school system anymore because the state tests required sound insane. Brooklyn parents Eve Gartner and Joe Morris, whose son goes to PS 372 in the Slope, created a site, Brownie the Cow, that include passages from the state
s fourth grade English exam. The NY Times takes up the cause, outlining the fight between parents and exam officials about how the exams overall might just be too nutty and stupid for their own good. Okay, not exactly in those words but if you listened to the passage, "Why the Rooster Crows at Dawn," you'd realize that it kind of does suck. Reading it is another matter, but the kids only got to listen to it twice. The story is mostly about a rooster in a barnyard with other barnyard animals, but a lot of the questions are about Brownie the cow! One student gave his memory of the question:

"I didn't think the test made that much sense. I felt good and confident when I was going to take the test. I listened to the story about the rooster (I couldn't look at it). They read it twice, I took all the notes I could and once I got to the big question I only had one thing I had recorded about the cow. I felt terrible. I didn't have the information to answer the question. I thought I had made a mistake, how could I have missed the information about the cow?"

We are sure that tons of kids need to go into therapy after their exams. If the kids had been able to read the questions ahead of time and anticipate what they needed to focus on, it might be a different story.

State education officials tell the Times that the Brownie portion of the test was field-tested successfully and it didn't count for much of the exam anyway. But parents Gartner and Morris point out on their website that English exam scores have gone down. They have asked the city's Schools Chancellor Joel Klein to take the test, “We have asked several friends to take the ‘Brownie the Cow Challenge’. So far, none of our adult friends seem ready to advance to the fifth grade.”