Guessing C For Every Answer Is Now Enough To Pass The New York State Algebra Exam

Ed Knight:

My student, River, spent more time in the courtroom than the classroom last year. One Friday night in September, a drunk friend called and asked for a ride home from a party. River obliged. That’s a problem when you’re 14 years old. On his excellent adventure with his drunk friend, River drove over the landscaping of several local businesses and ended with his car in the woods caught in a web of maple sugaring lines. Things spiralled from there.

All of which is to say that River didn’t learn algebra last year.

I mean it: zero algebra was learned. He wasn’t even present in my classroom for most of three marking periods. At the end of the year, he asked me how he was supposed to pass the state test.

“No problem,” I said. “Just pick all Cs.”


“Try it. I bet it will work.”

It worked.


Did I have special knowledge? No.

Or yes, if you count actually being able to do math. Apparently the whole “actually being able to do math” thing is special now. New York certainly doesn’t require it.

Now look, you’re probably saying Ed, come on, there must be something that you’re not telling me. There must be something you’re missing.