Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System
Massachusetts and Harcourt
District: na
State: MA

Here’s the sentence that follows the sentence on which students are being interrogated:

The McChoakumchild school was all fact, and the school of design was all fact, and the relations between master and man were all fact, and everything was fact between the lying-in hospital and the cemetery, and what you couldn’t state in figures, or show to be purchaseable in the cheapest market and saleable in the dearest, was not, and never should be, world without end, Amen.

Now here’s a statement from MassInsight and the Coalitition for higher standards:

Effective use of data and assessment: Creating a culture that relies on data to make key instructional and administrative choices . . . .

How are students who are surrounded by and submerged in data, data, data going to recognize that Dickens’ fact, fact, fact is sardonic and critical? Isn’t their state department of education preaching fact, fact, fact? If you can’t “state it in figures,” then it isn’t worth anything. No anecdotes, please.

Purchaseable in the cheapest market. How can a child of the global economy whose education is keyed to that global economy recognize any irony here?

The Massachusetts Department of Education pronounces that this test question is measuring Language Standard 5. Hold your hats: Here’s Language Standard 5.

General Standard 5: Structure and Origins of Modern English
Students will analyze standard English grammar and usage and recognize how its vocabulary has developed and been influenced by other languages.

5.23 Identify simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences.

5.24 Identify nominalized, adjectival, and adverbial clauses.

5.25 Recognize the functions of verbals: participles, gerunds, and infinitives.

5.26 Analyze the structure of a sentence (traditional diagram, transformational model).

5.27 Identify rhetorically functional sentence structure (parallelism, properly placed modifiers).

5.28 Identify correct mechanics (semicolons, colons, hyphens), correct usage (tense consistency), and correct sentence structure (parallel structure).

5.29 Describe the origins and meanings of common words and foreign words or phrases used frequently in written English and show their relationship to historical events or developments (glasnost, coup d’etat).

5.30 Identify, describe, and apply all conventions of standard English.

5.31 Describe historical changes in conventions for usage and grammar.

5.32 Explain and evaluate the influence of the English language on world literature and world cultures.

5.33 Analyze and explain how the English language has developed and been influenced by other languages.

Because of copyright restrictions, I’m not going to analyze the other questions. I invite you to take a look at the questions and the standards that drive them. It is all lunacy.

The tests are at:

Remember, these test questions aren’t isolated anomalies. The standards driving these questions are at:


Truth in disclosure: I wouldn’t recognize a nominalized clause if it bit me on the nose.

Test Item

Read the sentence from paragraph 3.

Fact, fact, fact, everywhere in the material aspect of the town; fact, fact, fact, everywhere in the immaterial.

14. The author uses repetition and parallellism to

A. emphasize the monotony of Coketown.

B. indicate a change in tone.

C. show respect for the town.

D. suggest that the townspeople admire Coketown.