I’m sort of cheating today. My original intention for this post was to give you various ELA (English Language Arts) questions from different exams that students need to take. But when I looked at the questions, I realized that the passages were too long to include more than one example, so I am going to try to do an abbreviated example.

nysedregents.org January 2018

This is a passage from the New York State Regents exam that all High School students in New York state are required to take. I think that you must pass this exam in order to graduate.

If you want to play along, read the above passage.

nysedregents.org January 2018

These are the questions that go along with the exam.

Do you think you can answer them correctly? Let me rephrase that: Do you think that you can answer them the way the New York State Board of Regents thinks is correct? Can you make a case for all the answers to be correct depending on how you look at it? Or that they are equally wrong?

Here’s where the subjective/objective thing comes into play: How much does ones background, feelings, etc enter into the equation when trying to ascertain what the “right” answer is?

Is it possible to have an answer that is more right?

Now let’s jump to the next part of my thoughts:

In a world where we can all interpret things in different ways, how do we communicate with one another?

If Person A looks at something one way, and Person B looks at it another way…how do we learn to understand one another?

My background, feelings, experiences make me feel that something is a certain way. Someone with the opposite background might see something the opposite of the way I see/saw it?

In a world where no one is wrong, how do we move forward?

If no one is right, and no one is wrong, how do we resolve conflict? How do we come to an agreement? How do we fix things?

So while you are reading the passage and answering the questions, think about the greater context. Think about why you think one answer is right and one is wrong. Think about why someone might have a different answer to the question.

I will give you the correct answers on Sunday, and possibly in the podcast that will eventually align with this post.



Full disclosure: I chose this exam because this is the exam my daughter and her classmates took and I have a sort of baseline as to how actual students did on the exam.

37 thoughts on “What do you See?

  1. Wow, it’s been nearly 60 years since I took the New York Stare Regent exam. It doesn’t look too different, despite all the changes in the world and the increased diversity (of every type) of young people taking the exam. Maybe the relevance of the questions to the kids and their futures isn’t even supposed to be important, maybe it’s just an arcane rite of passage! 🤔

    Liked by 2 people

    1. To be fair though, I spent some time yesterday looking at test questions, and I do think most of the passages are much longer than I remember. Also, though this is fiction/poem, many of the questions I found were fact based/non fiction. This was one if the shorter ones!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I still remember, all these years later, being advised by our teacher to memorize “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” for the biology Regents exam. I did, and it was on there. It’s been an incredibly useful bit of knowledge ever since. Not! But I still remember!

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I know! I was looking at different exams last night and I couldn’t answer the 3rd grade questions! I know my daughter got a 100 on this particular exam, and I definitely think she is smarter than I thought she was!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. No thanks on the exam! Your questions though seem to have a simple answer: listen, discuss, listen some more, cooperate, listen again, compromise… Basically stop believing that only one way is the best. Now we both know that humans can easily do this, right??

    Liked by 6 people

  3. Hmmm… Glad I don’t have to take exams anymore! Will be interested to see the correct answers, but like you said I see how some of the questions, if not all, can be open to one’s own interpretation. So how can it be right or wrong. I know I have read poetry before and got a totally different meaning out of it then what was meant.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Me too! We read a book fir book club a few months ago and my thoughts on the final chapter were completely different than everyone else’s


  4. I found it interesting that the test writers felt the need to define some of the words. I can see there being room for a lot of subjectivity I’m answering those questions. What I think the poem says and what the testers think may be different. I’m never confident that multiple choice questions are a good way to measure knowledge. They don’t reveal thought processes or accept out-of-box views. Now, if it were a math problem, that might be different, of course.

    Non-rancorous discussion is the best way to come to agreement. There have to be some ground rules about evidence, though. Just flinging opinions about can lead to bad decisions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m a lousy interpreter of poetry. If it’s pretty I like it. But if we all see things differently, how do we understand one another! I’m still thinking this out

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Personal experience and perceptions definitely come into play. When two people have different takes on life and perceptions, that is where misunderstandings happen and it happens all the time. The biggest problem comes in when people are rigid in their stance of absolute right and absolute wrong and are unwilling to acknowledge or recognize any other experiences or perceptions other than their own. It is one of my biggest peeves in education when educators demand the correct answer on questions that are subjective. Some of the absolute worst are the “What did the author/artist mean…” because unless there is actual documentation from the creator, you simply cannot know what their intent was. You can infer and guess all you want, but you can still be completely wrong.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There was a case a few years ago. The test used a poem. A teacher didn’t understand the “correct” answer so she actually wrote to the poet. The poet didn’t know they used and poem and said the answer that the test used couldn’t have been more wrong…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m waiting for the answers. I found more than one answer to several of the questions. It reminded me of first grade. We had a page with pictures where we were supposed to number the pictures in sequence. I remember failing because I came up with an elaborate story in my mind of what “could” happen that was way more interesting than the obvious.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know. My daughter doesn’t do well on ELA standardized tests (with this being an exception) relative to her grades, because she’s an out of the box thinker

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I remember having a discussion with one of my instructors about a question on an exam he’d given. I argued the question could be taken two ways – the way I took it was not how he meant it. Long story short he took it to another faculty member and I was given full marks for my answer, As were several other classmates. In life, however, it isn’t always so easy to resolve an issue. I particularly loved this: “Do you think that you can answer them the way the New York State Board of Regents thinks is correct?”
    there’s the crunch, what makes perfect sense to one may be make any sense at all to someone else. Very provocative post. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I am as guilty of forgetting that fact as the next one. We are not all built in the exact same way. It is our uniqueness that adds joys to life and keeps it interesting. 🙂


  8. I hate BS tests like that. Hey, have you heard of Sam Bennett who writes about Highly Creative People ? My friend sent me a podcast by her, Ode to Highly Creative People, and it described me to a T. I think you (and a lot of people I like) would fit that definition. Look her up! It’s fun to hear how wonderful we are. Hahaha!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Hmmm. I like how you’ve framed this question, LA. Gaining agreement is very important and takes openness, flexibility, and a growth mindset. Meaning, inside of a fixed mindset, people see things as right or wrong, black or white, which makes coming to an agreement almost impossible. Think about how polarized the political parties are right now in this country. Problematic. Furthermore, in this country, we are socialized to focus on the outcome, or result, which means that we are also socialized toward correct, or right, answers. Most of these issues are inherent in the socialization process and are then habituated within every individual. And, breaking habituation patterns is very difficult, though not impossible. Excellent discussion question today.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s the whole political thing that got me thinking of this. People keep throwing around the words right and wrong, but really, as exemplified in this poem, can we unequivocally state that anything(besides math) has right or wrong answers?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, as we discussed in one of your posts last month, we can even argue that Math has no right or wrong answers, yet, I do agree with you, as I did last month, that the practicality and necessity in understanding that 1+1 = 2 is critical for our children and youth. Everything else? No. No right or wrong answers ever, which then creates an interesting question to ponder. Why, then, are we socialized toward correctness, and right and wrongness. Hmmm. I will reflect on this. I think it has to do with fear. Great conversation, LA.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Another important aspect of these tests is how traumatic they are to the youth taking them! I remember thinking black is black and white is white; I would not do well taking philosophy. 😀 I think I might have fainted had I known that many of these are up to, as you said, some governing board of peoples.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s