A year after the District school system distributed exam study guides that contained grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, it has issued new study guides with a new set of errors.
The mistakes are in materials created by school system administrators and distributed to students in grades 1through 4 last week in preparation for the Stanford 9 exam.
Superintendent Paul L. Vance said yesterday that he was dismayed that employees had not carefully proofread the documents after last year's errors. Vance, who had dismissed the employee responsible for overseeing the previous study guides, said he was "embarrassed," "dismayed" and "disgusted" by this year's blunders.
"I'm not a profane man and I'm not given to fits of swearing, but I'm just so close to it now," Vance said. "I'm so damn angry right now."
Vance said that administrators will fix the errors and distribute corrected guides when students return from spring break next week. He said he also has asked his staff for an explanation of how the errors occurred. "It may be a good thing that I don't know at this moment," Vance said. "I'm furious and trying to contain myself." He said there would be "consequences" for those responsible.
Several of the mistakes in this year's study exercises are obvious. The first-grade guide, for instance, shows a poorly reproduced image of nine flowers and asks how many flowers are in the picture. The four multiple-choice answers range from 22 to 30.
On another page, a capital letter appears in the middle of a sentence: "Remember, Contractions are shortened forms of a group of words." In a reading comprehension section, a character's name is printed in lower case.
Then there is at least one question that is impossible to answer: "234 people went to the movie theater to see the first feature film and 456 people went to the movies to see the second film. How many went for both shows?"
School officials were alerted to the errors after a D.C. teacher pointed them out to a reporter. They said they are reviewing the Stanford 9 study guides issued to other grades to see whether they contain problems.
After the mistakes last year -- which included such misspellings as "pur" instead of "pour" and "rind" instead of "ride" -- school officials hired editors in the communications office and instituted a policy requiring them to check all materials being sent to students' homes. But the study guides distributed last week were not reviewed by the editors, officials said.
Wilma Bonner, the school official who oversaw the creation of the documents, said several employees from another department checked the materials and did not catch the errors. She said that the documents were created hastily and that she regrets the mistakes.
"There was a hurried job," said Bonner, executive director for academic programs. "It was a job to ensure that every child had some materials to study for the spring break." She added, "Errors occur. The persons who developed the materials are human."
She said the school system had created its own study guides instead of buying them from a publishing company in order to save money during a time of tight budgets. She said the test preparation materials would be purchased from a company next year.
School board members reacted to the mistakes with outrage.
"It is mind-boggling to see the good changes that have been made be obliterated in the public perception by foolishness like this happening," said school board President Peggy Cooper Cafritz.
"Everything that we send out to the kids has got to exhibit the same standard of excellence that we demand of them, and this clearly doesn't," said board member Julie Mikuta (District 1). "Clearly, we haven't implemented the standard of excellence yet, and it's appalling."
Among the other errors were problems in a reading comprehension section titled, "What Do I Feed My Hamster." Part of the section was copied from a Web site called abcteach.com and contained no errors. But school employees added material that was problematic.
For example, the section contained this question: "From this story, we know that omnivorous means -- "
The response that seems closest to the correct answer -- "both meats, vegetables and nuts" -- is neither grammatically correct nor completely accurate.