Pop Quiz: D.C. Public Schools Put Sex Education to the Test

Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Controversy over standardized testing has popped up again in Washington. But this time it's the subject matter that has been called into question. Beginning in April, D.C. public and public charter schools will administer the nation's first statewide test on human sexuality, health and drug use, the Washington Post reports. In hopes of combating the District's high rate of sexually-transmitted disease, pregnancy and childhood obesity, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education developed a 50-question exam aimed at filling in the gaps for health education in grades 5, 8 and 10. The health test will be a part of the District of Columbia Comprehensive Assessment System given in the spring, which assesses some grades levels in reading and math, composition, science and biology. According to a 2009 D.C. Department of Health report, two-thirds of the District's gonorrhea and chlamydia cases were among patients younger than 24, with nearly half of those diagnoses between the ages of 15 to 19 years old. The questions, developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers and designed to strengthen health education, are also in line with standards approved in 2008 by the D.C. State Board of Education. The standards provided a guide for topics including conflict resolution, STDs, HIV/AIDS and respectful communication, the Post reports. Adam Tenner, executive director of MetroTeenAids said he supports the new test, noting that "what gets measured gets done." But Tenner, who works with the District's public school system on health education, said the issue requires more than a test. Tenner finds current health education practices insufficient for both teachers and students. "We don't need a test to tell us we're coming up short," he said.

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