How Can You Not…

I’ve come to two rather horrifying discoveries this week:

  1. Fractions were not covered on the state’s graduating exam.
  2. It’s acceptable for a seventh grader to have no grammar knowledge.

The first was perhaps the worst, because I confirmed it with three different students. This test is being prepared as the one that controls whether or not a student graduates from high school in this state, and there were no fractions on it. One of my colleagues suggested marching on the state capital in protest, and I had to agree with him wholeheartedly. Fractions are one of those things that you really can’t get by in life without knowing. Ranks right up there with proportions.

The second was a bit more tolerable, if only because I suspect, “No, they really never taught us what a noun is,” actually translates to, “I don’t pay attention in class, and never have.” I was actually confronted with a twelve year old who had no earthly idea what a noun was. He honestly thought an adjective was an action word. I almost started crying right there, and the student felt badly that he’d driven me to near tears. He never once said he’d been joking with me, which made it worse. (He’s the kind of kid who loves to pull silly pranks.)

I was actually furious after he walked out and I thought about our conversation. When I was twelve, I was diagramming sentences in both English and Latin. For those who have never known the sheer joy of diagramming a sentence in English, it involves putting words into a graphic organizer; the placement is determined by the part of speech. For Latin, we had to create a chart where each line had one word from the sentence, and we had to fill in the line with part of speech, case/tense, gender, number, and special notes, before we were allowed to translate the word.

I just really can’t wrap my mind around not having fractions on a high school exit test or being a junior high student with no clue about grammar.

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