Test Creators Should Not Edit Quotes

879 words - 4 pages

Whether you know it or not, the plethora of literary excerpts that you have been exposed to throughout your education may have been edited and sanitized. That’s right, those so-called “quotes” extracted from literary professionals may very well have been mangled and rearranged so as not to risk “offending” any test takers or to avoid “controversial issues.” This may not sound like a major concern to many, however, how can we know the extent to which the creators of standardized tests warp these works? When they do this, are we as the readers truly receiving the pure message of the author? If you were to ask any author about this issue, they would most likely tell you something along the lines of the ideas of author Anna Quindlen, that editing pieces of writing for tests is not only “betrayal of the writers by bureaucrats, but the betrayal of children by educators.” In all sense, writing is meant to provoke thought, to cause a commotion, so what good is it if we take out every word, idea, even theme that one person could view as inappropriate? On one hand, editing excerpts and essays may serve a noble purpose, so as to not offend a group or individual, but overall, sanitizing a work of literature can often lead to a misconstrued understanding of the piece that only results in educational deprivation for students.
Consider this situation. You are a high school student taking the state standardized English test. You sit down and begin to read the first passage, one from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a novel you had read earlier in the year. However, this time something does not seem right and upon rereading you notice that where the original novel had once used the “N-word”, this excerpt constantly replaces it with “slave”. Now back to reality. This exact situation in occurring across our nation as not only this novel, but many other books, essays, and poems are being changed for scholarly purposes. Although the manner in which these pieces are written may be offensive to some, there is a reason that the authors write what they do. Whether it is in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, where the author is illustrating the time period and sentiments through language, or if it is a novel recounting the brutal events of the holocaust, standardized test agencies and creators take it upon themselves to excise these “unacceptable” aspects in order to avoid any discomfort, distraction, or offense that could possibly be provided for the students. This seems...

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