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4th grader Completes Last of High Stakes Exams, First in Nation To Take Tests in All 50 States.

Another in the series of news items you will find nowhere else.

Washington D. C.--
Greeted by a standing ovation from members of Congress, meeting in joint session with the Business Roundtable and National Education Association president Reg Weaver, nine-year-old Bingo Benny arrived to celebrate his feat of taking state assessments required by NCLB in all 50 states.

"From the October NECAP (New England Common Assessment Program) in Jericho, Vermont, to the May WASL (Washington Assessment of Student Learning) in Seattle, Washington, Benny proved that he is indeed standardized," exclaimed Sen. Edward Kennedy, chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee.

"Benny refuses to be left behind," chimed in George Miller, Chair of House Education and Labor Committee, and, like Kennedy, determined to reauthorize the contentious NCLB law.

Benny agreed that it was exciting for Mayor Bloomberg to be on hand to wish him well when he took the CTB/McGraw-Hill tests in January. "I didn't have time to use the key to the city he gave me," Benny said. "I was in a rush to catch a plane for the ITBS (Iowa Test of Basic Skills) in Las Vegas and the PAWS (Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students).

Bill Gates was on hand in Washington to congratulate Benny on his rigor, and in Long Beach, California, Eli Broad presented him with a special award of merit for competition in the global economy.

April was a busy month for Benny, as he rushed from the Alabama Stanford Achievement Test to Arizona AIMS (Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards) to the PASS (Priority Academic Student Skills) in Oklahoma and to Houston for the TAKS. (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills).

Bennie ended up with the WESTEST (West Virginia Educational Standards Test) in in mid-May, where he took a field test in writing. "I had 60 minutes to organize my thoughts, ideas, write and edit a rough draft," he explained. "Then I had an additional 60 minutes to copy my final draft on my answer sheet. I made sure my composition had a beginning, middle, and an end. My ideas were developed in a logical way. I used transitional words."

After taking a deep breath, Benny continued, "And that's not all. I addressed the topic. I included important and specific details. I used a variety of sentence types. I used descriptive words. I corrected spelling and other kinds of errors."

Benny expressed gratitude to his parents who, following the directions from the West Virginia State Department of Education, encouraged him to use the Five-Step Writing Process.

As members of Congress and excited onlookers looked on, Benny corrected the grammar in a text of President Bush's extemporaneous remarks from a press conference the previous day.

On the road for seven months, the intrepid nine-year-old logged in 62,526 frequent flier miles. Benny hopes his feat will be accepted as a test-taking record for the Guinness Book of Records, putting him in the ranks with the world's most tattooed person and person making the most modeling balloons in an hour.

While the Guinness decision is still on hold, Benny did receive a medal of accomplishment from Tommy Thompson and Roy Barnes, co-chairs of the Aspen Institute Commission on No Child Left Behind. Speaking in unison, the two former governors said, "We hope that the accomplishments of this youth will spur Congress to do its duty and get down to the important business of reauthorizing the No Child Left Behind Act."

Senator Edward and Kennedy and Rep. George Miller clasped hands and sang a revised version of the "Hallelujah" chorus:

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

For the Global Economy doth reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

For the Global Economy doth reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Although insisting he was never frightened during his testing marathon, Benny admits to suffering from apostrophe overload and long division burnout. "If God wanted us to do long division, why did He invent calculators?" asked the youngster.

In a related development, Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts announced his support for the PBS Ready To Roll with Long Division pre-school program. "Long before they start school, children are ready to learn the skills that will turn them into mathematicians. It is our responsibility to prepare youngsters with the skills necessary to compete as 21st Century workers in the global economy."

"Amen," echoed Reg Weaver.

— Susan Ohanian
The Eggplant



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