The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, January 22, 1999, Page 4, Image 4

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Erin Gibson
Cliff Hicks
Nancy Christensen
Brad Davis
Sam McKewon
Jeff Randall
Bret Schulte
“I think they finally opened their
Neda Molai, a junior management
information systems major, on the univer
sity’s decision to cancel classes on Martin
Luther King Jr. Day
“I will vote on probably 400 bills.
Which one beside this will save lives?”
Sen. David Landi, on LB505, which
would raise the state tax on tobacco
“When you develop a reputation in
the wine business, you develop an inter
national reputation.”
Local wine merchant Ken Meier on his
notoriety in the wine world
“It’s a composition about your point
of view and expressing it in a sort of
whimsical way.”
Elizabeth Ingraham, one of the profes
sors of Visual Literacy II, on the students
“Visual Snorkel” assignment
“Our mentality was to have fun. No
matter who you brought in, we would
have come out with a victory.”
Brooke Schwartz, NU guard, on their
win over the Jayhawks
“I don’t feel it is anything I am doing
myself. My teammates deserve a lot of
the credit”
Nicole Kubik, NU guard, on her team s
“It’s kind of like in football, when
they make a big deal out of changing to
Astroturf from grass.”
Ryan Johnson, cast member of
“Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” on perform
ing in an area they have never rehearsed
“Don’t let your kids grow up to play
lame sports like football or baseball. Let
them do something that’s cool and be
extreme athletes.”
Robbie Richards, bicycle racing cham
pion, on what parents should do with
sport-inclined children
“Working with future generations is
what makes me happiest”
Courtney Brown, NU gymnast, on how
she likes teaching freshman as much as
“We wanted to let people know that
this wasn’t a closed shop for upper-mid
dle-class white people.”
Robin McKercher, Lincoln Community
Playhouse s artistic director, on their non
traditional casting and contemporary play
“The best feeling in the world is leav
ing a silent gym.”
NU forward Andy Markowski on leav
ing the court after beating Oklahoma in
“What a neat place.”
Ken Dewey, professor of climatology
and meteorology on Nebraska being a
windy, blizzard- and tornado-ridden state
Editorial Policy
Unsigned editorials are the opinions of
the Spring 1999 Daily Nebraskan. They
do not necessarily reflect the views of the
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, its
employees, its student body or the
University of Nebraska Board of Regents.
A column is solely the opinion of its author.
The Board of Regents serves as publisher
of the Daily Nebraskan; policy is set by
the Daily Nebraskan Editorial Board. The
UNL Publications Board, established by
the regents, supervises the production
of the paper. According to policy set by
the regents, responsibility for the editorial
content of the newspaper lies solely in
the hands of its student employees.
letter Policy
The Daily Nebraskan welcomes brief
letters to the editor and guest columns,
but does not guarantee their publication.
The Daily Nebraskan retains the right to
edit or reject any material submitted.
Submitted material becomes property of
the Daily Nebraskan and cannot be
returned. Anonymous submissions will
not be published. Those who submit
letters must identify themselves by name,
year in school, major and/or group
affiliation, if any.
Submit material to: Daily Nebraskan, 34
Nebraska Union, 1400 R St. Lincoln,
NE. 68588-0448. E-mail:
Higher learning
No rhyme or reason in standardized tests
; • •. V':
CLIFF HICKS is a senior
news-editorial and English
major and the Daily
Nebraskan opinion editor.
Right now, somewhere in America,
a high school student is hunched over
some books, studying in vain for the
ACT or SAT or even both.
No matter how many hours that
student puts into the books or courses
in preparing for the standardized tests
that are going to have major impact on
their college outlook, it’s all really for
Boil it all down, and standardized
tests aren’t worth the paper they’re
printed on.
Set the Way-Back Machine for
1994. Enter a young writer, not the
greatest academic shiner in the world,
but a relatively bright kid.
He’s me.
So, there I am, surrounded by lots
of other kids with sterling GPAs, all of
whom are in the National Honors
Society and any other self-righteous
collection of academia that they can
find, while I’m off working on the
newspaper and doing the occasional
theater thing.
Now, realize that all of these stu
dents who slept and ate with then
schoolbooks took the_same tests I did.
And when the results were handed
down, many of the NHS squadron
ranked in the 90-95 percentile of col
lege bound seniors. In English, it
means they were in the top 5 to 10 per
cent of scores.
Some of the “best and brightest,” if
you will, and they were happy to be
part of that top 5 percent
This, of course, surprised the hell
out of me. That’s because I placed in
the 99 percentile- the top 1 percent of
college-bound students.
According to the tests, I was
smarter than most of the NHS students.
Remember now that I didn’t put
any real time into studying for the tests.
I mean, I brushed up on my algebra and
glanced over a few obscure words that
teachers insisted I should know.
I had figured, going into the test,
that it wasn’t going to be that hard. I’d
looked over a few of the sample tests
that the brainiacs were using, and it
seemed like common knowledge to
So what does a standardized test
reveal about a student? Anything, real
From what I found, the tests were a
basic combination of general knowl
edge with high emphasis on grammar
and vocabulary, coupled with a degree
of ingenuity and basic math knowl
See, this is what really burned the
eggheads of my school. With a basic
grasp on algebra and trigonometry, I
was solving problems they were using
calculus to do.
One of them asked me after the test
how I did a specific problem without
using calculus, so I showed him,
briefly, how I did it
“Ihat’d take forever!” he wailed at
“Not if you do it right” I respond
What was a simple logic jump for
me was an insurmountable complex for
the honors student. He couldn’t see
how simple it was to use what he had
learned in ways they hadn’t taught him
The problem was that so many of
these so-called “best and brightest” had
no idea of how to really apply any of
what they had learned in the real world.
I can’t tell you how much it bugged
me to know that the majority of the
people in NHS couldn’t change the tire
on their car, nor could they figure out
how to use algebra to figure out the
interest on their credit cards.
These are basic facts of life, folks,
simple tilings that everyone should be
able to do, much less our “best and
My point is that there’s a very basic
difference between academics and
Just because a person does well in
school offers no insight to how smart
they really are, in my opinion.
Don’t by any means, take this as a
,...---- ^ —
“I’m so great” column, because I’m
telling you up front that I’m not. Sure, I
like to think of myself as sharper than
the average pointy stick, but I’m not a
fountain of resounding brilliance.
Heck, I rely on spell-check just as
much as anyone else.
When students take these tests and
get evaluated and judged by universi
ties, many of the potential collegiate
students are never even met. The art of
interviewing prospective students is
It had to happen, unfortunately.
With more and more people trying to
gain higher education, administrators
needed to fmd a quick and easy way to
discriminate between those who were
capable of higher learning and those
who weren’t.
It’s still wrong.
There’s no way that a single test,
designed for “everyone” can be fair to
“everyone,” no matter how much
research is put into it.
It can be hard for some students to
pick the “least correct” answer or the
“most correct” answer. Committees
nave swarmed tnese tests witn enougn
politically correct jargon that the typi
cal student needs an interpreter with
him at all times.
Even here at the university, large
scale classes often feel impersonal, and
the tests aren’t always accurate reflec
tions of what students feel like they’ve
It’s especially true in the foreign
language classes where tests are often
formed by committee, and not always
reflective of what a specific teacher is
Is this really the solution to our
No, it isn’t
The solution is smaller classes,
more personalized attention, more
intensive work and learning tailored to
the students’ needs, not some teacher’s
time constraints.
The solution is more teachers.
Not some digital-era nightmare
where the only person who ever touch
es a test is some student who may or
may not have any idea of what’s on it.
It doesn’t work for high school stu
dents and it doesn’t work for college
Bring on the essay questions and let
your knowledge shine.
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