Thursday, August 25, 2011

Can I Have the Answer Key?

It's a time-honored tradition in education that there is no reason to reinvent the wheel when it comes to lesson plans, especially tests and quizzes. My files are open to anyone who needs anything, and years ago I organized a computerized folder and file system for my department to share materials more easily. Of course, all teachers make their classes unique, and thus I may ask a question or focus on a piece of information that others don't. Thus, we do have to revise and adapt all test materials to the expectations our specific class.

Years ago there was a veteran teacher at my school who, like me, had a knack for creating units - especially tests - and she had materials for practically everything. However, she was old school and tough as nails. So, inevitably another - often younger - teacher would use one of her tests in a class and then ask for the answer key. Her answer was always the same. "If you need the answer key, make one. And if you can't answer all the questions, you have no business giving this test." Upon delivering this curt response, she'd turn back to what she was doing, sending her colleague out the office door with tail firmly between legs.

Now, I've never been able to be so hard-nosed ... but I understand. Instead I will hand over the key, and then recommend that the teacher look over the test and edit out any questions which weren't specifically focused on in that particular class. And, of course, many teachers will simply assert that there is no reason to take the twenty to fill out a key if there is already one completed. But, still. Don't you wonder sometimes?


Darren said...

Not very "collegial", to use a term currently in vogue, but I understand the sentiment.

mrelliott said...

I understand where the teacher is coming from. Teachers shouldn't test students in something where they couldn't even get the answers.


Districts and administration have a long-standing history of trying to save a dime, and assign teachers in class they may not have a good grasp of the material. And then, teachers aren't given the preparation time to master their content, let alone get ready for the students.

Case in point--my last district restructured the vocational classes, per the state's requirements. The keyboarding teacher is now teaching floral arranging! The marketing teacher is teaching a culinary arts and hospitality class! Neither are proficient in what they've been assigned to teach.

mmazenko said...

MrElliot, that ought to be illegal. It's certainly unethical, and I can't believe that's valid in any state.

There is certainly a problem with teachers being assigned classes and given inadequate time to prepare.

Though, still, I would never ask a kid a question that I couldn't instantly answer myself.