Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Why not let kids copy and sell their review sheets?

So time has come for the big year-end-summative exams at my posh private school. The tests are totally useless. They have ZERO educational value in my mind. In fact, the rational for starting end-of-year exams in the 7th grade is that it gives them practice for their cumulative IB test in the 12th grade. That's pretty bad rational, as far as I'm concerned. Since you were 20, have any of you had to take a year-end cumulative exam?

Anyway, I'm not fighting the system on this one. I'm going along with the flow. I gave out a review worksheet before Memorial Day and some kids started working on it immediately. Others only started today and are realizing that with the final next Tuesday they've got a lot of work to do. So one ingenious kid, who has more money than time (and sense), offered another girl $10 for her completed review sheet.

I stopped the transaction, but I've been thinking about it all afternoon. Why not let the kids who have done all the work reap some of the benefits? At least the kids would get some value out of these pointless end-of-year exams. These exams aren't intrinsically motivating, but earning cash is.

Would allowing a free market to develop among the classmates be more valuable than the actual test? They would certainly learn supply and demand, the importance of the "information" economy, and the eternal choice of time or money.

My Dean of Students has said that from an administrative point of view, she can't have a school with 100s of little "exam cheat sheets" businesses in the hallway and I'm not allowed to let the kids sell the review pages.

I can see her point, and because she is my boss, I'll follow it. But I'm not buying it. What do you think?