I was going to add this, but you have done a much better job than I could have. I will just latch on with my two cents.
In the bigger scheme of things I agree teacher is correct in marking that answer wrong. I agree to it ‘assuming’ the test had a context. Probably the context was to test exactly the right use of multiplication strategies taught in the class. However the whole reasoning of the medium article by Bret is misplaced.
This discussion brings up stupidity of thinking of maths in languages and introducing assumptions. 4 x 3 is not read or taught as 4 [times] 3 in every language. I learnt to math in Malayalam. I was taught by my teacher to read 4 x 3 as 4 [GUNAM] 3. Roughly translated it is 4 multiplied by 3. Also my teacher was very quick to add that 4 x 3 = 3 x 4. So there is no need to even study any multiplication table of N beyond, N x N.