Holmes Co. parent objects to test

By George Wuerthele - Tribune Staff Writer

MILLERSBURG - A wholly subjective and nonacademic test has enraged parents of a Holmes County student.

They believe a "Values Inventory," presented last March to students in a college-prep English class at West Holmes High School, is intrusive and wholly irrelevant to the education of their son.

They also believe school authorities have been less than candid in their efforts to explain the test and its significance.

Theresa Kilroy says her son, Tony Weiss, a West Holmes freshman, was told to complete the four-age document in his English class. Instead, he brought it home.

:"By now he know what I'm for and what I'm against," says Kilroy.

She is against the School to Work initiative and the entire concept of Outcome Based Education. Both are projects favored and promoted by the education establishment, and Kilroy has been vehement in her opposition to both.

"They call this a survey," she says of the Values Inventory, "but it's all part of the Career Passport and Outcome Based Education."

Kilroy says every line of the 60 question survey offends her, but some more so than others. Those which deal with religious faith she believes to be especially offensive.

I feel the schools have no business asking anything about any child's religious background," says Kilroy.

The minute Kilroy saw the survey she picked up the telephone. "I called the school and asked for the principal," she says.

She got vice Principal Robert Porter, who promised to "look into the matter."

"Three hours later, he called me back, says Kilroy. "He said the test was part of the Careers Awareness program, and it was mandatory."

He also said the test would be sent to Columbus, to be scored and evaluated, then returned to West Holmes, where it would become part of the boy's permanent academic record.

Kilroy went ballistic. The Career Passport program is supposed to be optional, and Kilroy wants her son to opt out of it. She confronted the district's board of education, and presented each member with a copy of the test. What's going on, she asked.

Gary Gehm, district superintendent, said he would investigate.

After that, Kilroy received a call from West Holmes principal Larry Foltz. He asked her to come in to speak with him.

"He told me the test didn't come from the state," says Kilroy, "that it wasn't part of a state program."

Foltz said the test was something the English teacher had appropriated from a colleague, and had no significance beyond that teacher's classroom. He couldn't say why Porter had told her it was a state-administered document, but he said Porter would call to apologize and explain himself.

So far, that hasn't happened, and Kilroy wonders why. She also wonders what significance, if any, the test has for those children who do take it.

She finds more than one aspect of it to be objectionable.

The questions about parents and parental relations, for example, lend themselves to conjecture. They ask students to respond true or false to the following statements  : "I have a close relationship with at least one of my parents," and "I respect my parents."

Those questions come pretty close to being the stuff from which psychological tests are made. The administration of psychological tests is something not included within the job description of a classroom teacher. That's why Kilroy kept her son out of class for a week, so he would avoid all such surveys/tests.

Other questions ask about dental hygiene habits while still others probe for attitudes about race relations and sleeping patterns.

Their significance to career awareness is not immediately apparent.

"Why is it necessary for them to know these things?," asks Kilroy.

In order to find out, Kilroy has written to state Legislator Joy Padgett, who represents both Holmes and Coshocton counties in the state house, asking for her assistance.

She reiterated her request May 16, at a meeting convened to give state officials a chance to explain the controversial School to Work initiative.

At that time both Padgett and state Sen. Jim Carnes, who represents West Holmes and Coshocton counties in the state Senate, expressed their concern and promised to investigate.

By Thursday, Padgett had gotten back to Kilroy, and was in the process of arranging meetings with appropriate state officials.

But Kilroy still doesn't know who wants to hear her son's response to questions such as, "I care what my parents think about the things I do," or "I expect to provide music lessons for my children," or "I enjoy taking part in discussions at the family dinner table."

She'd like to know that.

Thursday afternoon, West Holmes High School principal Larry Foltz declined comment on the issue.

Sidebar

Values Inventory - Students in a West Holmes High School English class were given a "Values Inventory" test which included the following statements. They were instructed to rank their feelings on the subjects on a scale of 1-10 - definitely true to definitely false.

I regularly attend religious services.

I enjoy participating in social activities sponsored by my place of worship.

I like to go to parties.

I daydream about making a lot of money.

My religion is important to me.

I usually get a least eight hours of sleep each night.

I would welcome a person of another race as a neighbor.

I have a dental checkup at least once a year.

My religion helps me understand my world.

I respect my parents.

I would enjoy having people recognize me wherever I go.

I enjoy reading religious books or writings.

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