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September 15th, 2011
Students now required to take standardized sex ed, health test
D.C. test is first in the U.S.; treads on touchy subjects
According to the District of Columbia’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), D.C. public schools are planning to test students on their knowledge of human sexuality, contraception, and drug use this spring.
The D.C. OSSE, which developed the 50-question exam for grades 5, 8 and 10, said it will be the first standardized test on health and sex education in the country.
The city’s rates of childhood obesity, sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy are among the highest in the country. School officials say the test will help determine what students know about risky behavior.
Already, South Carolina is field testing a statewide health-education assessment, according to the Council of Chief State School Officers, which helped developed a group of sample questions for the test, along with local educators.
The questions have also been aligned to health education standards approved by the D.C. State Board of Education in 2008 to guide instruction on subjects such as STDs, HIV/AIDs, conflict resolution, and respectful communication.
However, some say D.C. is treading on shaky ground, considering the polarizing issues of sex education in public schools and standardized testing.
Officials said the annual test will help gauge what students know about sex, health, and drugs, but some say you don’t need to measure what you already know.