Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What Did You Forget To Teach?


Angela was a student of mine in an algebra class several years ago.  She was extremely bright and very hard working.  It was evident from her grades and from observations that she loved school and loved learning.  I had no doubt in my mind that she would do extremely well on the regents.  (At that time the regents was a much more meaningful exam than it is today.)

I remember sitting in the marking room as we passed around papers.  Someone announced the paper presently being marked (Angela's) was perfect with one question to go and then handed me the exam.  The problem Angela chose to do (there were choices in those days) was done perfectly except for one tiny arithmetic mistake.  Angela added 2 + 1 and wrote 4.  It broke my heart, but I dutifully took off the point and put the 99 on top.  I saw Angela several days later and explained her mistake.  She laughed it off and said she was very happy with the 99.  I was happy for her as she had truly mastered the course.

Today things are different.  I remember departmental conferences where the AP ranted at the staff because kids got 98 and 99.  He told the teachers to think about what they had taught and what they had failed to teach because these topics were the ones that prevented more students from getting 100s.  I didn't bother to argue with him.  To me, he sounded too ridiculous to even respond to.

I feel for the teachers still sitting at these department meetings.  I am afraid their ratings will be lowered because of 98s and 99s as long as this nut job is in charge of the department.

Angela was much brighter than this AP.  I don't know what she ended up doing.  I pray she did not become a teacher.  I would hate to see her subjected to this measure of her value.

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