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    #208510 - 01/07/15 04:04 PM My son answered too well and marks were taken off.
    tillamook Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/20/12
    Posts: 116
    My son arrived home with barely held back tears this afternoon because he had to redo his homework.

    I read through the questions and his answers and am puzzled. There were three questions on a two page chapter. The first two questions were essentially the same so in the second answer he explained that and then elaborated. The last question was also so obvious that he went beyond the answer and went into possible reasons behind the explanation in the text.

    I don't understand how a teacher could mark this down. Could she not see that he understood and was over answering? Was it an exercise in following the rules or was it to determine understanding?

    In any case, while it's not an important mark I feel I should discuss it with her. I hate conflict. Any advice? Empathy?

    It's quite likely she was in literal mode while she was marking and perhaps didn't think about the person answering.

    Thoughts? Feedback?

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    #208514 - 01/07/15 04:25 PM Re: My son answered too well and marks were taken off. [Re: tillamook]
    tillamook Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/20/12
    Posts: 116
    Thanks for your comment.

    He's 11 and they were basic science questions with the answers spelled out in the text - no room for insight really. He just doesn't think that way so he added his insight.

    If she was just scanning for the standard answers she might have just marked him down.

    Just sad that he (accurately) felt he did well and was a bit blindsided. Also at the age where holding your emotions together is important but still hard. frown

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    #208517 - 01/07/15 05:35 PM Re: My son answered too well and marks were taken off. [Re: tillamook]
    Tinker Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 12/10/14
    Posts: 8
    Your son has my sympathy. I've been there and it definitely feels personal. Let him know that he did well and that you are proud of him. I'd let him skip the do-over if the grade is unimportant. It feels like an insult to be asked to change good work.

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    #208520 - 01/07/15 07:20 PM Re: My son answered too well and marks were taken off. [Re: tillamook]
    aeh Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3987
    Sorry to hear he had this experience. Most elementary teachers, in particular, have very little grounding in science, and often are a little afraid of math and science, actually. On a related topic: back before we started homeschooling, I used to routinely find errors in answers provided by the text used at school. Initially, I would send in little corrections, but eventually, I realized that this was just confusing and upsetting the teachers, and it was probably going to be more useful to explain to the children that teachers are only human, and textbooks are the products of people who are only human, so there will be errors and misconceptions. Our job is to learn to be critical consumers of information (but in a respectful way).

    It may feel a little like creating disillusioned little cynics (though I don't think it is), but there is something to be said for teaching children that even a well-intentioned person with many admirable traits can inadvertently promulgate injustice. (This is as true of ourselves as of others.)
    _________________________
    ...pronounced like the long vowel and first letter of the alphabet...

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    #208521 - 01/07/15 10:00 PM Re: My son answered too well and marks were taken off. [Re: tillamook]
    HowlerKarma Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/05/11
    Posts: 5181
    I like aeh's helpful perspective on this.

    We have over the years also had the unfortunate experience of a handful of teachers who were determined to take DD down a peg or two, using whatever means came to hand.

    Not giving "the" answer-- or going beyond it... or not being LITERAL enough (that is, stating "XXXX happened in 1648 because YYYY happened earlier that same year" rather than "XXXXX occurred late in 1648" or things like this.

    It can be maddening, and can definitely lead to cynicism. Particularly if one catches whiffs of a teacher's personal bias sneaking into things. For example, my DD had one teacher in an AP course who docked her points for not mentioning in an essay (which was open-ended) that the New Deal made the economic collapse more severe and prolonged the period of unemployment.

    Really not kidding about that one.

    She had quite a stinker for biology in high school, as well.
    _________________________
    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.

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    #208524 - 01/08/15 05:39 AM Re: My son answered too well and marks were taken off. [Re: HowlerKarma]
    JonLaw Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/29/11
    Posts: 2007
    Loc: The Sub-Tropics
    Originally Posted By: HowlerKarma
    For example, my DD had one teacher in an AP course who docked her points for not mentioning in an essay (which was open-ended) that the New Deal made the economic collapse more severe and prolonged the period of unemployment.

    Really not kidding about that one.


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    #208525 - 01/08/15 06:02 AM Re: My son answered too well and marks were taken off. [Re: tillamook]
    Kai Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/17/09
    Posts: 647
    I have told my children again and again that the correct answer--when the correct answer is being determined by another person--is the answer that that person thinks is correct.

    This notion has served them well, particularly on standardized tests.

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    #208528 - 01/08/15 07:25 AM Re: My son answered too well and marks were taken off. [Re: HowlerKarma]
    Bostonian Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 2638
    Loc: MA
    Originally Posted By: HowlerKarma
    For example, my DD had one teacher in an AP course who docked her points for not mentioning in an essay (which was open-ended) that the New Deal made the economic collapse more severe and prolonged the period of unemployment.

    I think this is true, having read "The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression" (2008) by Amity Shlaes. The meta-question is how history teachers should grade essays on subjects that are still disputed by historians and economists.

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    #208532 - 01/08/15 09:03 AM Re: My son answered too well and marks were taken off. [Re: tillamook]
    HowlerKarma Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/05/11
    Posts: 5181
    Exactly. It is debatable, but my DD definitely does not believe that it is so, based on her own understanding and research into the international economic picture and what other economists/historians have as opinions on the subject. Her course textbook certainly suggested that it is an untrue statement, by the way, and she supported her position with ample citations, which went above and beyond the assignment, even. The teacher just wanted something very specific.

    It just seemed pretty obvious to DD that her AP history teacher was being driven far more by ideology than by grading her work fairly and objectively at that point. She was indignant.

    This was confirmed, by the way, when she (experimentally) presented HUAC and McCarthy as "well-intended and effective, if maligned by some radical elements of society" a week or two later in the term. wink To enthusiastic, gushing praise from the instructor, I must say. grin LOL. It just about killed DD to write those words, little socialist and future ACLU member that she is.

    Ultimately, she may not have learned a lot of history, but she DID learn to craft a compelling and disingenuous essay for a particular audience, whilst in the pursuit of a grade. I consider this an important life skill, by the way, so I don't necessarily mention it as a means of complaining about the teacher. The teacher was fine other than the clear Libertarian/revisionist ideologue business. This is also the same teacher that argued with my daughter when she objected to a conflation of the terms "socialism" and "communism" by the way-- so this could have been an epic clash of ideology. I simply reminded my DD that her ultimate goal was not about being right-- but about earning an A (as long as she knew the underlying subject well, that is). The teacher was the very human person she had to be keeping happy in order to make that happen. Mission accomplished, by the way.

    She did have a bit of trouble anticipating just what such an individual would think of LBJ, by the way. That was a challenging essay for her to write. She learned a lot. wink

    _________________________
    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.

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    #208536 - 01/08/15 10:52 AM Re: My son answered too well and marks were taken off. [Re: Kai]
    Quantum2003 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/08/11
    Posts: 1432

    Hugs to your DS. It's always sad when their enthusiasm in a subject is not matched by the teacher's.

    The grade may simply be not following directions or irritation/laziness on the teacher's part that she has to take the extra few minutes to review your DS' work. I am not a teacher, but I have to confess that I have criticized adults for wasting my time with two page explanations when I requested a couple of short answers to incorporate into a document.

    Originally Posted By: Kai
    I have told my children again and again that the correct answer--when the correct answer is being determined by another person--is the answer that that person thinks is correct.

    This notion has served them well, particularly on standardized tests.



    ITA with this.

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    #208540 - 01/08/15 11:31 AM Re: My son answered too well and marks were taken off. [Re: tillamook]
    Mahagogo5 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 06/11/12
    Posts: 517
    Just a diff perspective - similar to Quantum's I guess.

    When I was in high school this happened to me too but in English.
    I was not 11 and at the preparing for university level so I'm aware it may not be 100% relevant...

    When I asked about it, the teacher told me that it was an important life skill to be able to determine what was being asked and provide the relevant answer. Being concise is important and something that I had to learn, providing interesting and correct, but ultimately irrelevant facts was something that continued to hold me back in higher education and I know caused much annoyance with my coworkers. It drives my husband batty!

    I'm not saying you are wrong to be frustrated, or that the teacher does know the material - however this can be a teachable moment for your ds - particularly if like me your DS is prone to show their knowledge....

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    #208542 - 01/08/15 12:30 PM Re: My son answered too well and marks were taken off. [Re: tillamook]
    NotherBen Offline
    Member

    Registered: 03/24/14
    Posts: 313
    Anecdote: in 5th grade science, a test question was "how many moons does Jupiter have?" Two of us answered 12 (that's how many were known back then) The correct answer was "4", which is what the other 20 kids wrote. The explanation was that we'd been studying Galileo, who discovered 4 of the moons. "But", we argued, "that's not what the question asked". In the end, the teacher threw the question out altogether.

    Things haven't changed.

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    #208543 - 01/08/15 12:31 PM Re: My son answered too well and marks were taken off. [Re: tillamook]
    NotherBen Offline
    Member

    Registered: 03/24/14
    Posts: 313
    Except the number of known moons.

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    #208547 - 01/08/15 12:57 PM Re: My son answered too well and marks were taken off. [Re: tillamook]
    moomin Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/20/12
    Posts: 178
    I'll take moons as an example... and I'm going to reply as a high school teacher here, and I admit my reply isn't altogether satisfactory:

    If a student's sophistication and outside knowledge gets in the way of assessing fundamental knowledge, they run the risk of losing credit for answers that they know.

    If I ask a student how many moons Earth has, what I expect is the reply, "One." The student who replies "one" is guaranteed credit. No question about it. They're playing it safe.

    The student who replies, "One; but Cruithne and other quasi-satellites and trojan moons have Earth centered orbits and could be considered moons," would probably get full credit (though I'd have some suspicion that the answer originated with the parent and not the student).

    A student who answered "Two (or more)," or presented me with an essay analysing various hypothetical moons, or the works of Jules Verne, would risk losing credit. Not because I'm being punitive, but because, as I'm grading a stack of 160-220 tests, and I'd see the "Two" (or the lack of a definitive answer) before I'd notice the basis for the response.

    This is true in virtually every subject, at virtually every level. I once had a paper rejected (written for publication) when I was graduate student on the basis that they could tell that what I was saying was important, but they couldn't tell whether there was a sound basis for my claims. I simply dumbed down the level of discourse and resubmitted it and it was accepted by the journal.


    Edited by moomin (01/08/15 12:57 PM)

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    #208548 - 01/08/15 01:25 PM Re: My son answered too well and marks were taken off. [Re: tillamook]
    bluemagic Offline
    Member

    Registered: 03/29/13
    Posts: 1489
    Another possibility is the teacher didn't grade it at all. When my kids were in elementary school a lot of HOMEWORK (not tests) were graded by volunteer parents who grade off a key. And are looking for very specific answers and don't know what a teacher wants in this kind of question. I remember being told to grade by looking for specific "key" words.

    Good luck. We have this kind of problem in my house with my DS15 and I'm still working on his answering what the teacher WANTS. He takes questions a bit too literally and then gets frustrated because the 'right' answer doesn't really answer the question in his eyes.

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    #208551 - 01/08/15 06:03 PM Re: My son answered too well and marks were taken off. [Re: moomin]
    ashley Offline
    Member

    Registered: 03/26/12
    Posts: 639
    Originally Posted By: moomin


    The student who replies, "One; but Cruithne and other quasi-satellites and trojan moons have Earth centered orbits and could be considered moons," would probably get full credit (though I'd have some suspicion that the answer originated with the parent and not the student).


    I don't understand why this answer (presumed to be originating from a parent) should get criticized by a teacher. I routinely teach my child after school. I take credit full credit for meeting my child's academic acceleration needs using my own personal time (I am not a happy camper about it because, how wonderful my life would be if the school actually met all my child's educational needs instead of making me scramble to meet them). Since this is a class test and the parent is not passing notes with these answers to the child, I would think that the teacher should accept this kind of answer and appreciate the parent and the child for learning above and beyond what the teacher was teaching (the teacher was presumably sticking to a pre-made lesson plan or 1 or 2 textbooks and a few supplements and teaching the exact same lesson to a class of 30 students with varying needs and interests).

    OP: Sorry to hijack this thread trying to analyze a hypothetical test question.

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    #208555 - 01/08/15 06:22 PM Re: My son answered too well and marks were taken off. [Re: ashley]
    puffin Offline
    Member

    Registered: 12/11/12
    Posts: 2035
    In some tertiary courses here they use unit standards. The answer is not judged correct unless it has exactly the words the marker wants. The only way to get A s is to memorise and regurgitate the notes handed out by instruction.

    This really doesn't seem like education to me.

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    #208557 - 01/08/15 06:29 PM Re: My son answered too well and marks were taken off. [Re: puffin]
    ashley Offline
    Member

    Registered: 03/26/12
    Posts: 639
    Originally Posted By: puffin

    This really doesn't seem like education to me.

    It should be called a memorization test frown

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    #208591 - 01/09/15 07:57 AM Re: My son answered too well and marks were taken off. [Re: tillamook]
    moomin Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/20/12
    Posts: 178
    Ashley, you're right.

    In regards to my hypothetical question and answer, that child really should get full credit. My point was that the provision of extra information is often perceived by students and parents as something positive, or even a source of possible extra-credit... but for teachers (when grading) it is often either a distraction, or a source of unnecessary confusion.

    This is particularly confounding for kids as these same teachers are often very encouraging of extra-information in classroom discussions, where it serves to keep conversation moving and adds color and interest to the material being covered.

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    #208592 - 01/09/15 08:00 AM Re: My son answered too well and marks were taken off. [Re: puffin]
    HowlerKarma Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/05/11
    Posts: 5181
    Originally Posted By: puffin
    In some tertiary courses here they use unit standards. The answer is not judged correct unless it has exactly the words the marker wants. The only way to get A s is to memorise and regurgitate the notes handed out by instruction.

    This really doesn't seem like education to me.


    It isn't.


    But do NOT expect that to change anytime soon. Guess what? This is reaching into higher ed these days.


    Y'all are living in the dark ages if human beings are still grading student work in the first place. This is a job for automation.



    {sarcasm} Thanks, Pearson Web-solutions for Education(tm).
    {/sarcasm}
    _________________________
    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.

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    #208593 - 01/09/15 08:10 AM Re: My son answered too well and marks were taken off. [Re: moomin]
    ashley Offline
    Member

    Registered: 03/26/12
    Posts: 639
    Originally Posted By: moomin

    This is particularly confounding for kids as these same teachers are often very encouraging of extra-information in classroom discussions, where it serves to keep conversation moving and adds color and interest to the material being covered.


    OK. Now, I am beginning to understand what you are saying. Thank you!
    The student is to write only what was taught by the teacher and to not add any extraneous information, no matter how relevant it is. Thant would ensure most teachers not docking points off the answers.

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    #208596 - 01/09/15 08:56 AM Re: My son answered too well and marks were taken off. [Re: tillamook]
    moomin Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/20/12
    Posts: 178
    Yes, but, that's only true to the extent that you're in it for the maximal points. I tend to encourage my students (and my daughter) to view the points given as a largely extraneous factor with little significance to the quality of any given educational experience.

    But, yes, if you're trying to maximize your score, stick to the specific substance of what has been taught and clearly and concisely answer the question.

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    #208597 - 01/09/15 09:06 AM Re: My son answered too well and marks were taken off. [Re: HowlerKarma]
    aeh Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3987
    Originally Posted By: HowlerKarma
    Originally Posted By: puffin
    In some tertiary courses here they use unit standards. The answer is not judged correct unless it has exactly the words the marker wants. The only way to get A s is to memorise and regurgitate the notes handed out by instruction.

    This really doesn't seem like education to me.


    It isn't.


    But do NOT expect that to change anytime soon. Guess what? This is reaching into higher ed these days.


    Y'all are living in the dark ages if human beings are still grading student work in the first place. This is a job for automation.



    {sarcasm} Thanks, Pearson Web-solutions for Education(tm).
    {/sarcasm}


    For some reason this reminds me of the year that #1's school switched to Pearson eTexts. The history teacher was initially unaware that there were quizzes embedded in the text that students could practice until they reached 100%. After a disastrous attempt at compiling her own exams (a long story involving test questions with no connection to the text, and technical difficulties with the tests supplied with the curriculum), the presence of these quizzes was pointed out to her, so she started using the same questions for actual paper quizzes. (Had to ask #1 how to screen capture and print them, though.) It's amazing how test scores rose after that!

    As to automated grading: quite often, teachers don't set eyes on the work products or assessments at all. We routinely use computer-adaptive assessments for reading comprehension, essays, mathematics, vocational skills, even employability/soft skills.
    _________________________
    ...pronounced like the long vowel and first letter of the alphabet...

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    #208604 - 01/09/15 10:47 AM Re: My son answered too well and marks were taken off. [Re: tillamook]
    HowlerKarma Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/05/11
    Posts: 5181
    There is nothing quite like the particular hell engendered by trying in vain to properly FORMAT an otherwise completely correct answer/solution to a lengthy problem in chemistry, physics, or calculus.

    Just saying-- this experience is fairly fresh in my mind. It drove my daughter crazy that her chemistry homework portal would randomly select a number of significant figures for constants-- without telling the student what it had chosen for a particular problem. Sometimes it took 15 minutes or more to "guess" at the right value, and she lost points for every incorrect answer. Yes, really.



    Let's also recall that such programs are created and instructed by human beings, too, and that they therefore contain errors. She found a few of those, as well.

    My personal favorite was the resonance structure question which rejected her answer because--



    it was entered "upside down" relative to the solution. There is simply no legitimate way to consider that answer incorrect.

    So yes, while automation is a distinct improvement upon incompetent educators running classrooms, it only works well when it isn't some monolithic, inflexible beast that must be fed the proper input stream at all times. Computers are only as smart as those providing the instructions for them.

    It's still not what I'd call good, relative to an actual expert human being, in other words.
    _________________________
    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.

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    #210657 - 02/11/15 10:35 AM Re: My son answered too well and marks were taken off. [Re: tillamook]
    tillamook Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/20/12
    Posts: 116
    Thank you for all of your replies. The teacher explained that earlier that day she told the class exactly what she wanted as a response and that it was as much a test in listening as in knowledge.

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    #210665 - 02/11/15 11:01 AM Re: My son answered too well and marks were taken off. [Re: tillamook]
    puffin Offline
    Member

    Registered: 12/11/12
    Posts: 2035
    As long as she did state it clearly, tell them while she was stating it, everyone was there and they had the opportunity to write instructions down and seek clarification that is OK. I can never remember verbal instructions later and I don't think I am the only one.

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