UPDATE: The official banned word list from NYC standardized tests!


Soon after my post on the banned words from NYC public school standardized tests, CBS News released the official list of words and/or topics that are “not allowed” on city tests.  The very long list (in alphabetical order – woo hoo!) is as follows;

  • Abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological)
  • Alcohol (beer and liquor), tobacco, or drugs
  • Birthday celebrations (and birthdays)
  • Bodily functions
  • Cancer (and other diseases)
  • Catastrophes/disasters (tsunamis and hurricanes)
  • Celebrities
  • Children dealing with serious issues
  • Cigarettes (and other smoking paraphernalia)
  • Computers in the home (acceptable in a school or library setting)
  • Crime
  • Death and disease
  • Divorce
  • Evolution
  • Expensive gifts, vacations, and prizes
  • Gambling involving money
  • Halloween
  • Homelessness
  • Homes with swimming pools
  • Hunting
  • Junk food
  • In-depth discussions of sports that require prior knowledge
  • Loss of employment
  • Nuclear weapons
  • Occult topics (i.e. fortune-telling)
  • Parapsychology
  • Politics
  • Pornography
  • Poverty
  • Rap Music
  • Religion
  • Religious holidays and festivals (including but not limited to Christmas, Yom Kippur, and Ramadan)
  • Rock-and-Roll music
  • Running away
  • Sex
  • Slavery
  • Terrorism
  • Television and video games (excessive use)
  • Traumatic material (including material that may be particularly upsetting such as animal shelters)
  • Vermin (rats and roaches)
  • Violence
  • War and bloodshed
  • Weapons (guns, knives, etc.)
  • Witchcraft, sorcery, etc.

While I do appreciate that some of these topics are a “no-no” like sex, pornography, and alcohol, I also wonder if it is really necessary to tell people who are supposed to be developing tests for school aged children that pornography is off limits.  Call me naïve, but I would have hoped that was a given and not something that needed to be micro managed.

On the flip, I find it interesting that a story about a dog in an animal shelter is totally off limits as it may be considered traumatic but gambling is okay if it doesn’t involve money.

In the 2010 Grade 6 ELA test an article titled Olykoeks by, Sue Larson Pascoe was included.  The article was about the history of doughnuts.   Last time I checked this is considered Junk Food, yet NYC public school children were tested on the subject.  Moving forward with the banned word list – an article like this would not be assessed citywide prior to the state test because of the new banned word list.  Now doesn’t this new insane list actually put all New York City students at a disadvantage rather then help them? You tell me!

One thought on “UPDATE: The official banned word list from NYC standardized tests!”

  1. Does it seem just a little bit wrong that so much energy goes into deciding what kids should NOT learn?

    Thanks for visiting my blog… I’m somewhat at the opposite end of the spectrum–in a very rural area and not (other than volunteering) involved in public education. Sometimes I’m very thankful for that.

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