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Ads on Tests

posted by Nell Minow

A teacher whose budget would no longer cover the expense of printing out his math tests has resorted to selling ad space on calculus quizzes and exams.
Rancho Bernardo teacher Tom Farber says that his budget for print-outs is $300 but the costs are $500. Rather than pay the difference out of his own pocket — or cut down on the number of tests — he is selling small ads to local businesses. “Brace Yourself for a Great Semester!” says one ad from a local orthodontist. Some ads are taken by parents. The ads cost $10 for an ad on a quiz, $20 to appear on a chapter test and $30 for a final exam. calculus.JPG
I am sympathetic to the enterprising teacher and to the school administration that chose to cut expenses rather than personnel. But does anyone think that this is a good idea for the kids or the advertisers? Do the kids need the distraction of ads when they are trying to focus on a test? And do advertisers really think they will inspire warm feelings for them and their products if they are associated with the stress of crunching equations for a good grade?
Thanks to fark.com for the reference.



  • jestrfyl

    As one whose academic career fell far short of sterling – I would be LESS likely to be a customer of any company that sponsored the very instrument of my torture and ultimate demise. This is like finding ads on your 1040a or a subpoena. I applaud the teacher’s sense of innovation, but I would think his sponsors might want to re-think their approach. That is unless they included a grade based coupon to be redeemed after the grade is imposed. It might not be a great motivator, but it would be better than simply a letter.

  • Carol

    A long, long time ago in a world far away where teachers could see past the glitz of technology ( read mimeograph machines ), my math teacher wrote our test problems on the black board. We copied them onto our paper (provided by the school) and did our work.
    People have been solving these kinds of problems with either
    1) use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without
    OR
    2) don’t change just whine and get someone else to foot the bill
    for a long, long time.
    I’m not impressed with using advertising to solve his ‘problem’.
    I *really* hate the example he is setting for the kids too. “I can’t figure out how to live within my means so I’ll get someone to bail me out”

  • eGaTS

    I agree with Carol.
    From what I remember of high school calculus exams, we were given the problems printed very close together to save space. We did our work on a separate blank piece of paper and the test problems were turned in without us writing on them, to be used for the following periods (next groups of students). Short quizzes were sometimes written on the board, but that forces students to raise their eyes and look around, increasing the temptation to copy a neighbor’s answers. I guess it depends on the number of students you’re monitoring.
    Her last statement sums it up pretty well: bad example, bailouts are infecting the population with laziness and a growing lack of accountability.

  • Nell Minow

    A good point, eGaTS, and I appreciate your wisdom on the pros and cons of putting the problems on the board. I am also concerned that the headlines about the bailouts will give teens and adults the sense that the system is unfair.

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