Thursday, July 7, 2016

Editing Grammar Exams

I wasn't asked to edit the grammar midterm exams that I was copied on, but after opening a few of them I decided that I should have a more detailed look and pass on some advice to those who created them.

I can't share the exact words of the exam as it is against school policy, but I will give an example of one thing that really bothers me.

There is a section on the grammar midterm (fifth grade level) that is looking for plurals of nouns. There are five nouns given where the student has to write the plural (irregular ones; mouse - mice, foot - feet, for example...). But they are given the correct answers in a "word box" at the top of the section. They have to choose the correct answer and write it on the line next to the noun given. This is fifth grade mind you. **I'm changing it to something totally different than the actual exam even the grammar, but it will be easy to see why I am annoyed ;)

Word Box: baby dog, baby cat, baby rabbit, baby fish, baby elephant, baby tiger
1) What is a newborn dog called?           __________
2) What is a newborn fish called?            __________
3) What is a newborn cat called?            __________
4) What is a newborn rabbit called?        __________
5) What is a newborn elephant called?    __________
6) What is a newborn tiger called?          __________

There is zero challenge in this line of questioning. Note, in the above example I wrote "baby dog" rather than puppy...just imagine that "baby dog" was what we call baby dogs...the point is, with the irregular plural grammar, like mouse/mice...if you can think of four or five more commons ones, it helps o see where I'm coming from ;)...imagine the lack of challenge if there is a word box!!

Had they simply required the student to write "puppy", "kitten" or "cub" with a word box, that is more understandable. But giving them the answers is ridiculous and zero challenge.

I have suggested to change this section, or at least just delete the word box that gives the students a choice of what answers to fill in for each question. Who knows what will be done in the end. It benefits the school if the students do well on their exams. It makes the parents (customers) happy and feel like they are getting value for the tuition they, perhaps they are going for less challenging.

I understand that we are a private school and we need to make the customers happy, but I'm still bothered when the students are seemingly given a free ride.

p.s. I've just had a look at the fourth grade midterm...much better, same material, same grammar, just no word box, more difficult, a better indicator of a student's understanding of the grammar ;)

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