Scenes from a manuscript

I have written a manuscript for what I hope becomes a book: Schoolhouse Dilemmas: Scenarios for Mentoring Secondary Teachers. In the text, I include 50 hypothetical situations (along with analysis, questions, and tips for each situation). As a preview, each Tuesday and Thursday I will post one of the scenarios. Feel free to respond. I’d be interested to read how other people would approach each dilemma. Today’s situation comes from Chapter One: Working with Students.

Their Eyes Were Watching…each other’s tests?

As you are grading the multiple-choice Biology test that you gave last Friday, you stop for a moment after grading Judd’s. So far this semester, Judd has barely performed better than the hamster that you keep in the room, and he has shown much less life, keeping his head attached to his desk more often than not. In fact, his average hovers somewhere around 30%. Needless to say, you have just added up the number he missed on this most recent test, and out of fifty, he missed seven. With each item counting two points, Judd has made an 86%. You write this score on the page and begin to write, “Great job!”

Then, something clicks in your head. “This can’t be right,” you think. “Unless maybe, just maybe, he has started studying?“ You briefly skim through the other graded papers and you notice that Emily, who sits next to Judd, scored 88. She’s a bright girl — too bright to lend a helping hand to Judd, you hope. You compare answers on both papers and notice that Judd missed the same six items that Emily missed. He also missed question 45. He answered “C.” Emily correctly answered “B,” but you notice that she had changed her answer. You can still see the faint traces of the “C” that she erased before answering “B.” A sick feeling enters your stomach.

Now you have developed a sense of paranoia, or perhaps you just feel less naïve. Either way, you decide to compare a few other papers with similar scores. You notice that two boys, Tim and Scott, both scored an 82. Sure enough, they missed the same questions. And yes, they do sit next to each other. “How could I have not noticed?” you ask yourself. But then you remember that you were grading papers from your honors class during the test. Disappointed, you finish grading the tests.

How would you proceed?

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