kitchen table math, the sequel: Bad-news scores

Friday, August 9, 2013

Bad-news scores

My district's first set of Common Core scores. (Sample test questions.)

I read a funny letter in the Times today from the mother of a child in third grade:
[snip] I am a journalist and editor, and I found the writing on my third grader’s sample language arts test so dense (and dull!) that even I sometimes had trouble reaching correct answers. Likewise, sample questions for the third-grade math test, which are intended to measure greater complexity in thinking, looked to me like basic word problems with lots of superfluous words.
Naturally that second observation forced me to drop everything (or, more accurately, further delay beginning everything) and check the 3rd-grade math questions.

I found this:
Two groups of students from Douglas Elementary School were walking to the library when it began to rain. The 7 students in Mr. Stem’s group shared the 3 large umbrellas they had with Ms. Thorn’s group of 11 students. If the same number of students were under each umbrella, how many students were under each umbrella?

You may use the space below to draw a picture of the problem.
Mom's got a point.


Anonymous said...

Good Lord! The only way I can see this as less than awful is if the intent is to prevent good math students who are weaker in reading from scoring well - and it's far too wordy and confusing, even so. Even that wouldn't excuse drawing pictures; it's math, not art. 143

kcab said...

I've seen similar issues with the released example tests at middle school level. I keep wondering who the heck they hired to write the tests.

Auntie Ann said...

Answer: At most 2, because there's no way you're even fitting 3 actual human beings under the same umbrella.

Lynn Guelzow said...

Are the kids carrying backpacks?

How far are they walking? Does anyone know of an elementary school anywhere in the US where the kids have to go outside into the elements in order to get to the library? Even in Arizona, schools have covered walk ways.

And how will they hold an umbrella if they are carrying library books?

I would never get to the math if I were in 3rd grade. I'd just get stuck imagining the whole thing.

Just saying.

Anonymous said...

"Does anyone know of an elementary school anywhere in the US where the kids have to go outside into the elements in order to get to the library?"

It is common here in California, where half the classrooms at some schools are in trailers.

cranberry said...

Yes, I know of several in New England. The kids don't melt or freeze on short walks.

Auntie Ann said...

My high school was a campus with multiple Wisconsin. There was no way we were going to lug our coats throughout our school day, so we got used to cold or wet bursts while walking between buildings. The worst was when you had wet hair coming back from gym or the pool.

We also played outside almost every day in grade school--except when it was seriously raining. Maybe four times a year we had recess inside.