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Advocate Wants More Transparency In D.C.'s Health And Sex Ed Tests In Schools

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D.C. is the only jurisdiction in the country that tests students on health and sex education, but the questions and school-by-school results are a closely guarded secret.
Travis Ekmark: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sayholatotravis/3796435103/
D.C. is the only jurisdiction in the country that tests students on health and sex education, but the questions and school-by-school results are a closely guarded secret.

D.C. is the only jurisdiction in the country that conducts standardized tests for its students in health and sex education. But now some advocates are pushing for more transparency in exactly what is being tested.

The test covers a range of health topics including nutrition, sexuality and disease prevention. This year, more than 11,000 fifth- and eighth-grade students from traditional and public charter schools took the exam, answering 64 percent of questions correctly.

But now Adam Tenner, who heads the nonprofit Metro Teen AIDS, wants a national independent expert review the quality of the questions.

"One of the things we really want to make sure that the health questions are adequate and they make real sense in terms of what health educators need in classrooms so that kids are getting the best health education they can," he says.

Tenner says he wants to see a breakdown of the results by school. His organization helps train teachers, and he says the group need to know which schools need more support.

Spokesperson Ayan Islam with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, or OSSE, says this information is not subject to a Freedom of Information request. She says a panel of teachers come up with the test questions and that OSSE has provided individual schools their test results.

Tenner says he'll appeal OSSE's decision.

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