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Ephemeral, Aerogel, Plinth: 6th Grade Vocab on State Test

Cross-posted to ASCD EDGE.

Let us peruse a list of words  featured on the recent sixth grade New York state exam:     

ephemeral 

aerogel

plinth

ominous situation 

paroxysm

clamorous

tutelage

furlong

absconders

surmised

Perhaps each of us should commit to using  these words today in our communications.  Surely one result would likely be alienation from our recepients. ( “Hey, how’s your aerogel?“)

Arguably there is universal admiration for a command of vocabulary, but the thought of eleven and twelve year olds wrestling with these words in a timed pressure cooker suggests an “ominous situation“.      What were these test makers thinking?  Perhaps they yearn to design those  SAT exams for seniors.  The sobering fact that the results will have a direct impact on how a teacher is evaluated points to a profound disconnect.   However, there is one phrase used in one of  the test items that is telling: “transitory moment of presence in a distinct location”.   Let us hope this is a transitory aberration.