Test for my 6th grader... highest class grade: 65%..WWYD? *UPDATE post 17* - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 48 Old 09-01-2010, 12:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My daughter just had her first science test of the year... She comes to show it to me and prefaces with "you arent going to be too thrilled but it was the second highest grade in the class" (GirlChild knows I am all about perspective... )

She had a 60%. She tells me the main reason is that she didn't study the one page with the majority of the info on it... Was told to do the other pages in the packet.

I asked her what the highest grade achieved was and she tells me 65%.

They have the opportunity to earn 10 more points if they have a parent sign it, and add comments and return it. I feel like adding something to the effect of "while we feel that it is ultimately Xitlaly's responsibility to adequately study the material, we are a bit concerned that the highest grade earned was only a 65%"


IDK... we just moved in to this district...one of the reasons was for better schools but I'm not feeling it yet (my 1st graders teacher quit one week into school, the 1st and 4th graders were 35 mins late getting home on the bus because they (the school) didnt get their stuff right until after school, and other little things)

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#2 of 48 Old 09-01-2010, 12:18 PM
 
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Yikes! That's not a very encouraging way to start the year.


Two thoughts came into mind when I read your post.

1) Some teachers are not good at writing/preparing kids for tests, and that is unfair to the students.

2) My freshman year of HS I had a similar start to biology. Our first test/lab report was a disaster for the whole class. The teacher had very high standards for her students and until her class science was not really very challenging so most of us coasted through. Once we figured out we weren't in Kansas anymore we worked smarter and the grades started to go up and up, and I ended up with A's and B's along with many of the other students. Looking back she was a GREAT teacher and I am so glad I had the chance to be really, thoroughly challenged so I was ready for advanced science classes and eventually college. And she was tough but always there for us, even on the night before midterms when we sat in a circle around the phone with her on speakerphone giving us a last-minute study session.



So I would say if at all possible it might be worthwhile to ask around (other parents or older students) about the particular teacher, whether your daughter's situation might be more likely to fall into the first or second catagory! Either way, I hope the next test will be better.

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#3 of 48 Old 09-01-2010, 12:29 PM
 
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I'm guessing this is early in the year, yes? I would say that both students and teachers need to get used to each other early on. And teachers sometimes make mistakes in what they think the class should understand and they get a wake-up call from those first tests. If you are lucky, the teacher is now realiizing that she didn't teach this material as well as she thought and/or the class wasn't where she expected to begin with. A good teacher will take this information and revamp her lesson plans accordingly. Everyone, including teachers, deserve a second chance.

Or this could be the type of teacher who thinks that no one should ever get 100% but in the end will give high grades for lower percentages.

Of course, this could also be a bad teacher who delights in discouraging students and/or won't recognize that it was at least partially her fault the whole class did poorly.

And at the moment its probably pretty hard for you to tell what you have. I think you proposed note is just fine as a note of concern. Then I'd watch the homework and lessons that come home between now and the next test, and then see how the next test goes. If things seem to be changing, then you are good. If not, then you need to figure out the next step. But one test seems too early to do anything other than show some concern and wait to see what happens next.
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#4 of 48 Old 09-01-2010, 12:40 PM
 
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I wouldn't get into it with the teacher yet. As a pp mentioned, it may be the teacher's way of getting the students' attention, or emphasizing that they need to study a certain way or review.

I watch what goes on from here to see if it's ongoing.
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#5 of 48 Old 09-01-2010, 12:54 PM
 
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I'd be more concerned if this was a pattern than if this were the first test.

It could be the teacher expected her new students to have more of a base knowledge in certain areas of science than they had... particularly if this is the 1st year in a middle school. The skipped page with most the info may have been a page she felt "should" be review. I know this happened when DD was in 8th grade and got a history teacher new to the school. The first test, all but DD bombed because they hadn't been given the history education he was used to in his other school. My DD did well on the test but only because she has done extensive research in history independantly over the years. This teacher ended up being awesome... tough, but the best teacher DD ever had. I wouldn't be surprised if the next test goes better (and the work load go up) in this class.

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#6 of 48 Old 09-02-2010, 12:47 AM
 
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I had a couple teachers, admittedly in high school, who deliberately wrote very challenging tests and then graded on a curve (I think modified curve sometimes). Once we understood that no one was actually going to get 100%, and often not 90% or 80%, we adjusted and it was fine.
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#7 of 48 Old 09-02-2010, 07:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I know this isn't a curve situation.... She got all grading scale info at the start of school... I hope it's just a fluke...

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#8 of 48 Old 09-03-2010, 12:04 AM
 
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Considering that september just started, could it be that this test was really about seeing where the students are at. The teacher may have deliberately set the ceiling of the test very high, so that she would see if any students were significantly beyond her normal curriculum.

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#9 of 48 Old 09-03-2010, 12:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Mackenzie View Post

They have the opportunity to earn 10 more points if they have a parent sign it, and add comments and return it. I feel like adding something to the effect of "while we feel that it is ultimately Xitlaly's responsibility to adequately study the material, we are a bit concerned that the highest grade earned was only a 65%"
What if the parent does not sign it or write comment - for any variety of reasons? The kids are to lose marks because their parents do not feel the need to write comments? I do not think it is fair, at all, to penalise or reward kids for parental choices. That would be my comment.

I wouldn't comment on the 65% at all - it is only the first test after - see if there is a pattern worth commenting on. Some teachers are just hard markers as well - that is not entirely a bad thing.
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#10 of 48 Old 09-03-2010, 01:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What if the parent does not sign it or write comment - for any variety of reasons? The kids are to lose marks because their parents do not feel the need to write comments? I do not think it is fair, at all, to penalise or reward kids for parental choices. That would be my comment.

I wouldn't comment on the 65% at all - it is only the first test after - see if there is a pattern worth commenting on. Some teachers are just hard markers as well - that is not entirely a bad thing.

OMG! I soooo agree. Their school last year did a lot of that and it made me crazy. Also, I do not agree with rewarding perfect attendance in Elementary school when kids have very little control on if they go to school or not..


It was my understanding from my daughter that if they do not have it signed and returned, then their grade stands as earned

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#11 of 48 Old 09-03-2010, 06:47 PM
 
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I think you should just sign it and return it at this point. In our district teachers tend to look at low class grades as a sign that they need to cover the information again in a different way. I think you should wait and see what happens with the next test. If it seems to be a pattern then I think you should bring your concerns to the teacher.
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#12 of 48 Old 09-03-2010, 07:33 PM
 
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I'm guessing this is early in the year, yes? I would say that both students and teachers need to get used to each other early on. And teachers sometimes make mistakes in what they think the class should understand and they get a wake-up call from those first tests. If you are lucky, the teacher is now realiizing that she didn't teach this material as well as she thought and/or the class wasn't where she expected to begin with. A good teacher will take this information and revamp her lesson plans accordingly. Everyone, including teachers, deserve a second chance.
As a former teacher, I agree completely. I have made assumptions about where my students "should be" and once I got that reality check, I've adjusted expectations and methods accordingly. This really sounds like a similar situation.

ETA: I don't think you should do anything.
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#13 of 48 Old 09-10-2010, 02:45 PM
 
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Could be the teacher just didn't have the lesson plans as down as they should have? Maybe they made a last minute change. Or maybe this was a "test" to see where everyone was and what style of teaching is going to be most beneficial for the majority.

Its early and I wouldn't be too concerned just yet but if it continues into the 2nd quarter of school then questions should surely be flying.

DD had similar experience in her 2nd grade spelling test the 2nd week of school. I had no idea they would have a test. Never saw a spelling homework. DD had 100% she was the one and only. And apparently nobody else even passed it. yahy on her but I sure hope it was the teacher getting a feel of where they were all at. She did get put in the mix last minute. DD originally planned teacher did not even start at the school so at the last minute they hired another teacher. Ended up a big thing about the school supplies list too. So yeah sometimes schools rearrange teachers at the last week/day so maybe teacher wasn't as prepared.

Hope it resolves. I had many experiences like this myself when I was in school. Usually if I scored bad the curve dipped really low. I think teachers sometimes do this to see the top students then they can follow their scores to see if they are actually covering all the material well. That way they can feel assured they are doing their part and if people are failing its them not holding up their end. I found it was often all laid out in pretests. So many of my teachers used a copy of the test just mixed around the order. That for me makes 100% scores easy. Not always comprehended as well as I should have done.

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#14 of 48 Old 09-10-2010, 04:29 PM
 
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Call me crazy but, I'd write a comment on the paper - my comment would be to ask the teacher what the heck happened. I'd want to know their thoughts on why the entire class failed the test. The teachers response to that would tell me a whole heck of a lot about the teacher. Does the teacher take responsibility or do they blame the students? I'd want the teacher's thoughts on the situation.
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#15 of 48 Old 09-10-2010, 04:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thats what I ended up doing, since I am assuming he put the comments section on the exam for a reason ;-)

I said something to the effect of "We have discussed with Xitlaly that the responsibility for adequately studying the material is ultimately hers, however I am slightly concerned that the highest grade in the class was a 65%"

There has been no response to that though.. which does not thrill me a whole lot.

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#16 of 48 Old 09-10-2010, 04:58 PM
 
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That would concern me as well.
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#17 of 48 Old 09-13-2010, 06:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ugh... So today she gets back exam 2 (which I didn't know she had... She thought she had told me) and apparently this was an alternate exam for the same material as before... She had a 68% and the class average was 74%... there is no way the average should be so low when it was on essentially the same material. And now they have the opportunity to earn 10 more points if they have a field trip permission slip filled out and returned with the 20.00 of field trip money.... The field trip that states to return it to the MATH teacher, not the SCIENCE teacher btw... What about the kids who can't afford a bloody 20.00 field trip? Are they just assed out of the extra points? Which is not even to mention the disconnect between a science exam and returning a field trip form... Sigh...

This is a tree on fire with love, but it's still scary since most people think love only looks like one thing instead of the whole world. *
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#18 of 48 Old 09-13-2010, 07:55 PM
 
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Wow. At this point I think I would be having a face to face with the teacher and expressing serious concerns as to why my child's grades are directly influenced by a parents willingness to write a comment or pay for a field trip when she is out of primary school. One has absolutely nothing to do with the other, especially in the second instance. I can see nothing good coming from this if this is allowed to continue. I'd also have to question why, if the 2nd test was over the EXACT same material, does he suppose the class still did so poorly. (Prior to this meeting I'd have DD show me the tests and the information they covered and review it myself.) Just wow. Good luck!
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#19 of 48 Old 09-13-2010, 08:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yep, I'm going to have to have a conversation with him. He also has not responded to my comments last time...

This is a tree on fire with love, but it's still scary since most people think love only looks like one thing instead of the whole world. *
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#20 of 48 Old 09-13-2010, 09:04 PM
 
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74% as the average wouldn't really worry me. 74% is a C, and C is supposed to be average.

I'm totally with you on the whole having parents sign stuff for extra points. I do understand why the teacher is doing it, but it really is unfair.

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#21 of 48 Old 09-13-2010, 09:34 PM
 
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Playing devil's advocate here...

I would assume that the teacher is aware that the test was difficult and built in the extra points for that reason. This also assures that children who would not otherwise tell their parents they had a test, show their parents the test, and that parents who would not otherwise pay attention to whether the kids had a test or not, looked at it. Asking for comments could be an attempt at getting parents and students talking about what they're being tested on at school. Also, the children will have to learn to keep up with the test, take it home, and return it in one piece, which is something that would have been difficult for someone like me who always had 28343 pieces of paper wadded up at the bottom of her backpack.

I remember being in middle school and one of our major grades every semester was our notebook. We were supposed to organize it a particular way, and keep track of every hand out, assignment, test, etc in there. Each piece of paper had points attached to it - like 2 points for every homework assignment stored properly, in the right order, 5 point for the table or contents, etc. At the time I wondered what in the world that had to do with math/science/whatever class it was that semester, but now I see the benefit of learning those organization skills. It's not like they teach a class called, "How to keep a notebook".

I definitely think you should still have a conversation with the teacher though, if for no other reason that when you commented on the test before, he did not respond.

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#22 of 48 Old 09-13-2010, 10:01 PM
 
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If the point of a test is to assess what the students know, then it has to have a range of questions and you need to expect that no kids are likely to score highly.

Maybe I just don't understand the US outlook on tests. I'd personally just watch and see. If the teacher is expecting to teach a high standard and is using the test results to decide what needs to be taught and to whom, that is great. If he/she discovers that none of the kids have a clue about osmosis, for example, then he/she knows that it needs to be taught again. Or if half the class have no clue, he/she knows that the class needs to be split and half of them go over it again.

When I taught, when I tested, with a new class or topic, it was often for assessment, and there was no expectation that kids would score high. But I also wouldn't have given them sheets to study in advance for an assessment. I wanted to have tests inform me, not have some kids cram for it and get by that day, without really fully knowing or understanding the material.

If you see tests as hurdles for getting good scores and grades, then I guess you'd expect more of a range of results. But my focus wouldn't be on the scores, but on what the teacher does now with the results. My question to my kid wouldn't be what they scored or how they performed in comparison to everyone else, but what they found they didn't know, and how we were going to go about covering that material, either in school or outside.

But then if the teacher was offering extra points for jumping through some more hoops, maybe his/her focus is also on testing for grades and scores, rather than for assessing and improving and focusing the teaching, in which case this is all irrelevant.

Just a different perspective.
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#23 of 48 Old 09-14-2010, 06:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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74% as the average wouldn't really worry me. 74% is a C, and C is supposed to be average.

I'm totally with you on the whole having parents sign stuff for extra points. I do understand why the teacher is doing it, but it really is unfair.
The 74% is on t he same material as the previous exam. I could accept it if it was on previously untested material but there is no reason that the score be "average" if they have already learned and been tested on the material once.

This is a tree on fire with love, but it's still scary since most people think love only looks like one thing instead of the whole world. *
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#24 of 48 Old 09-14-2010, 06:30 PM
 
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Does she know the material and doing badly on the test? Or has she simply not learned the material?

If it's that she hasn't learned the material, then there's a problem with how the teaching is being done. I've never given a re-test kind of thing where most students didn't do much better. Admittedly, I teach college, not middle school, so there might be a difference.

If she knows the stuff and is doing badly, then either the test is poorly written (all teachers are guilty of that from time to time, some more than others), or with how the class is approaching it.

Since the whole class is doing badly, I suspect this is a teacher problem. Have you talked to the teacher? You can do so non-confrontationally. "I'm concerned because the scores didn't seem to improve. Can you tell where the problem is? I'd really like to help my child master the material."

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#25 of 48 Old 09-14-2010, 06:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So I sent him an email asking about the test scores and about the extra points. My dd was confused in that it was not for returning the permission slip but for having the graded exam signed by me and returned.

So I asked him if the scores were low because he is expecting students to get those extra 10 points, and if because of that, I should lower my expectations. I also gave him the opportunity to state that he expects scores lower at the beginning of the year.

His reply was full of snark. He told me that I didn't make any sense, and that I should raise my expectations. I am so not thrilled. My response to him was this:

Quote:
Okay, your snark, if that is what it was, is not necessary. What I am trying to determine is IF Laly was correct in advising me that the CLASS MAXIMUMS (or averages, if that's what she was talking about) were 65 and 74%, then they are FAR lower than I would have expected. As in Laly's scores have been greatly below what we expect from our kids BUT if those are the averages (or maximums, either way) and she is actually close to them, then I would conclude that it is not as much HER as what is going on in the classroom. We will work with her to get her grades to where we, and she, feel they need to be but that does not address why the class as a whole is doing so poorly. What I was asking is if the class scores are so low because you are factoring in the opportunity for the extra points. Because if that is the case, then I need to readjust my thinking that there is a disconnect between what is being taught and what is being learned and/or retained by the class as a whole, for the majority of them, not just my child, to be doing poorly. Or if you had some other explanation for it. For what it is worth, I DID mention this concern when I signed the last exam.

You have to understand that we are just coming into the district this year, having moved here for what we had hoped were better schools ( we were in a rural county last year) though they all did very well last year. And that prior to that they have had a mix of homeschooling in a major metropolitan area (the Seattle area) with a lot of opportunities for enrichment, and public school at the best school in the district. My spouse is the son of a professor. So yes, we have high expectations. Both of my child as well as those charged with educating her, to be honest.


Warmly,
Mackenzie XXXXXX
I know some of you are going to feel that is too harsh, but this year has been fraught with issues at her school and at my sons' school and I am frustrated.

This is a tree on fire with love, but it's still scary since most people think love only looks like one thing instead of the whole world. *
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#26 of 48 Old 09-14-2010, 06:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Does she know the material and doing badly on the test? Or has she simply not learned the material?

If it's that she hasn't learned the material, then there's a problem with how the teaching is being done. I've never given a re-test kind of thing where most students didn't do much better. Admittedly, I teach college, not middle school, so there might be a difference.

If she knows the stuff and is doing badly, then either the test is poorly written (all teachers are guilty of that from time to time, some more than others), or with how the class is approaching it.

Since the whole class is doing badly, I suspect this is a teacher problem. Have you talked to the teacher? You can do so non-confrontationally. "I'm concerned because the scores didn't seem to improve. Can you tell where the problem is? I'd really like to help my child master the material."
I forgot to mention that the second exam was more questions even so missed questions had less of an impact...


She simply has not learned the material. We are working to resolve that by having her let us know when she finds out she has an exam coming so we can help her study.

And I tried to do it nonconfrontationally. Both with expressing my concern on the last exam in a VERY neutral way, and then in my first email today where I even handed him two possible reasons for the scores and he chose to get snarky.

This is a tree on fire with love, but it's still scary since most people think love only looks like one thing instead of the whole world. *
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#27 of 48 Old 09-14-2010, 06:45 PM
 
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Ugh... it sounds like he's not going to be very helpful. I hate it when teacher's don't do their job!

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#28 of 48 Old 09-14-2010, 07:34 PM
 
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The 74% is on t he same material as the previous exam. I could accept it if it was on previously untested material but there is no reason that the score be "average" if they have already learned and been tested on the material once.
I would say that is a pretty fair difference. On the first exam, the very highest score anyone got was a 68%, which suggest that the average was most likely much much lower. My off hand guess would be that the average was somewhere around 50% on the first exam. On the second exam, they averaged 74% which is around to 25% more of the exam questions correct. That means that most students corrected half of their mistakes.

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#29 of 48 Old 09-14-2010, 07:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Meh... Most of the scores on the first exam were 60%, according to my daughter. I am still trying to get clarification. Regardless, I am still not impressed.

This is a tree on fire with love, but it's still scary since most people think love only looks like one thing instead of the whole world. *
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#30 of 48 Old 09-14-2010, 09:29 PM
 
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At this point, I would request an in-person conference, because it sounds like you and her teacher are having a lot of communication problems and I suspect that e-mail is the culprit there. It's very hard to read tone in an e-mail, and it sounds like each of you feels the other is being intentionally insulting or rude.
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