New Zealand high school students are getting a break on their national exam this year. "Text speak," the system of acronyms and abbreviations used in cell phone text messages, will be permitted in student responses on some sections of the test (but not, TYVM, the English test). The Qualifications Authority, which oversees the nation's exams, decreed that any answer which "clearly shows the required understanding" will be accepted, even if that understanding comes through in a language used primarily by kids. Critics are concerned for obvious and sound reasons: slang devalues the English language and signifies a breakdown of educational standards (not that New Zealand was doing too well before), etc. But blogger Phil Stevens said it best. "Nzqa [New Zealand Qualifications Authority]: u mst b joking," he wrote, "or r u smoking sumthg?"

"Officials: Students can use ‘text speak' on tests," Associated Press, November 13, 2006

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