Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Define Ray

Eighth grade math. 

I was covering for the special ed teacher of a co-taught class. (He's at home with Covid.) These are generally pretty easy days. The general ed teacher does all the heavy lifting, while all I have to do is help out as needed. 

But it turned out to be a testing day. 

Over the last two years, I have administered this test four times. Three of those times it was just me doing it. I am fully trained. 

This time, all I had to do was assist. Yay! 

So, I made sure to answer as many of the students' questions as possible. 

A girl called me over. 

"What is a ray?

I looked at her question. That was the question on the test, and it gave her four possible diagrams to choose from. 

"That's what the question is asking," I informed her. 

She argued the point. She couldn't possibly answer the question since she didn't know what a ray was. 

This particular test is geared towards figuring out at what "level" the students are at. Each question they get right triggers a next question that's a bit harder. Each question they get wrong triggers an easier question next. So, if they don't know something, they should get it wrong so the test doesn't rate them as having more knowledge than they do. 

She needed to get that question wrong. 

She was not happy about this. I left her to "guess". 

She raised her hand again. The general ed teacher went over to answer her question. 

And... he gave her the same answer I did. 

I mean, I wasn't being cruel. I know eighth graders haven't learned about rays yet. (If memory serves, that's the first week of geometry. For me that was tenth grade.) 

That age. They hate being wrong. But in this case, she really needed to be.


  1. Is there a reason why the teachers don't tell students ahead of time that there is nothing wrong with not knowing some of the answers; that this is the reasoning behind the test? This brought back a memory of a math test my son took, possibly when he first entered (his one semester) of community college. He was upset because there were a number of questions he claimed he was never taught in high school so he didn't know the answer. My light bulb just went on with your post. (OK, I was clueless, but I've never worked in education, either.) I can see certain personalities who would not take this well without knowing the reasoning behind it. Why add stress to a student's life?

    1. Okay, so the teacher was *supposed to* tell the classes ahead of time that they could expect to get about 50% of the questions wrong. It's in the slideshow that intros the test. It's part of the materials we're supposed to read to the kiddos before the test.

      I have no idea if the general ed teacher did the prelim stuff with the class. He was *supposed to*. I know I did it when I had long-term assignments and had to give the test. But this time, I was there for the day. (The other general ed teacher--I was paired up with two different teachers that day--did do the explanation.)

  2. Seems fair to me, but we are trained we need to get all the questions right on a test.

  3. She's probably used to doing well in tests and was stressed she wouldn't.


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