It’s standardized test time in Connecticut and my child will be busy participating in this painfully drawn-out process over the next couple of weeks. While I should clarify that I think testing *can* be useful for diagnostic purposes, I consider the following question from the eighth grade CMT Mathematical Applications section to be yet another example of why I find my state's manner of assessing students quite useless:
Sample Item 8-5 (Numerical): Buying Tickets
The carnival offers you two different options for buying tickets.OPTION A: $2.00 per person plus $0.75 per ride
OPTION B: $5.00 per person plus $0.25 per ride
If your uncle gave you $10 for the carnival, which option – A or B – would you choose. Show the mathematics you used to determine your answer.
OPTION CHOSEN: _______
This poor excuse for a word problem is just one example of why we started homeschooling. While I’m assuming the objective of the question is for the student to show mathematically that option B is the better choice because you can go on 20 rides as opposed to only 10 rides with option A, the question does not indicate that the goal is to go on as many rides as possible. I can easily imagine any of my children (including the 8-year old) coming up with alternate scenarios that could make either option the better one. Unfortunately, I can just as easily imagine a scenario where the person responsible for grading 200 tests containing these strange open-ended mathematical responses before the end of their shift would mark their mathematically and numerically accurate answer WRONG.
Let's say the student were to choose OPTION A since he really likes to eat junk food at carnivals (just like his favorite uncle who spots him the $10) but hates the rides because they make him dizzy (thereby leaving him with $8 to spend on food instead of $5). Would that be counted as a correct answer? I would argue that either option could be the better choice depending on the objective—which was not made clear. Mathematics is supposed to be clear, precise, and accurate. This question is just silly.
These types of Everyday Math word problems (I'm being generous here by calling it a word problem) used to make me crazy when my child would come home with them in 4th grade. Now here we are in 8thgrade running in circles all over again.
Meanwhile back in Singapore children are answering this:
Hooke's law for an elastic spring states that the distance a spring stretches is proportional to the force applied. If a force of 150 newtons stretches a certain spring 8 cm, how much will a force of 400 newtons stretch the spring? (New Elementary Math 2 Placement Test)*sigh*