Wednesday, March 09, 2016

In Which I Am Exposed as a Fraud

Yesterday, so help me, I gave a test. It was a test I wrote myself, and as a unionized teacher, I am one lazy bastard. I therefore wrote 50 questions so they could be two points each. I know, I know, it may have been better with 43 questions, or 1,083 questions, and it probably would have been more successful if I gave it with a part filled with experimental questions that didn't count at all. I'm sure if I were Pearson that's what I'd have done. But that's not even the worst of it.

For one thing, I actually counted the questions as two points each. Not only that, but I told the students in advance that I was gonna do that. So now, if I want to fail 70% of the students, like NY State did, I simply cannot. It's truly bad planning. I should follow the example of the pros and not tell anyone how much anything is worth. I should have written an impenetrable rubric explaining what I valued and how much. But I failed to do that.

And not only that, but the next time I see those kids I'm gonna actually return the tests, let them look at them, and if I made mistakes I will let them come up to me and tell me about them so that they can get even more credit. It's really indefensible. I'd like it to stop there, but it gets worse. I am a very fast marker and I sometimes miss errors. I admit it. And sometimes kids come up to me and tell me about them. I am such an awful teacher that I ignore any and all errors not in the favor of my kids. Now I ask you, would a computer do that?

This is just one more reason why NY State was very smart to remove us from grading our own kids. After all, we can't be trusted at all, and if the computers make mistakes, they make them with everybody so they are fair mistakes. That makes sense, doesn't it?

I saved the very worst part for last. When you give tests that are two points each, sometimes kids get a grade of 64. That's one point below passing. Naturally, a kid with 65 should pass and a kid with 64 should not. This is because, as everyone knows, 65 is the absolute low point on a test, below which you are an absolute failure. In fact, 64 is no different from zero. You get 64, you get no credit. Go to summer school. Take the class again. Spend another year in high school. Whatever it takes.

So here is my most egregious offense. Whenever a kid gets a 64 on a test I give, I just change it to 65. And no, this is not "scrubbing." It's even worse. I do not bother to recheck the paper to find some error I made. I don't even think about it. I just write 65 on the paper and that's pretty much it. In fact, I did that once yesterday.

When I told the boy who'd gotten 65 that I was a little disappointed, he looked a little relieved. At least he'd passed. Then I told him that he'd actually gotten a 64 and I'd just changed it to 65. You can imagine how wracked with guilt I must have been at that moment. I knew I had sinned. I knew I had validated every idea Merryl Tisch ever had about the perfidy of public school teachers. The kid looked at me for a moment.

"You are an excellent teacher," he said.
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