My son is in 7th grade. His social studies teacher gives a weekly assignment to figure out the country in question based on a series of 5 clues, one given each day. If they know the answer after the 1st clue, they get 5 points, after the 2nd, 4 points, etc. Each week is worth 3 points or 27 points over the 9 week grading period. If they get more than 27 points because they got the correct answer after the 1st or 2nd clue, it raises their overall grade. If they get less than 27 points, it lowers their overall grade. They only get one guess. If they answer incorrectly, they don't get any points for the week. The first two clues do not provide enough information to know the answer for sure, so it is basically a guessing game until the 3rd clue is given. This doesn't sound like a fair and balanced activity to me. One wrong answer drops the grade for the activity to a B and the chance to recover with extra points is slim to none. I've questioned the fairness with the teacher and principle, but they have not been willing to make any changes thus far. Is this fair, and if not, what should I do next?
As you describe it, it sounds not so much unfair, but just a bad quiz. I'd be interested in seeing examples of the first and second clues. I picture them being either about obscure facts about a state that only decades of accumulated trivia knowledge would know ("In this state, cinnamon was first added to applesauce in the 1880s") or ambiguous ("This state has 9 letters in its name").
If you still feel strongly about it now that the school year is over, I suggest you write a letter to the teacher detailing why the test isn't a good measurement of students' learning progress and how it actually penalizes risk-taking, which is a valuable attribute in business. Many good companies encourage risk-taking, but provide the framework and support for failure - in fact, some companies (Microsoft is rumored to be one) make failure a necessity of advancement.
If your relationship with the teacher (or principal) is good enough, invite him or her to meet for coffee one morning for a "post mortem" on the school year and, not as the first topic, bring up the quiz in the context of "I just can't get this thing off my mind" and dig into the philosophy behind it.
By the description of how this is practiced, it seems more like a bonus opportunity to me instead of the way that the overall Social Studies grade is determined. I wouldn't be alarmed about this, as I it seems harmless and in fact it can add points to the overall score in the 9 week period.