Sunday, August 28, 2005


The Viking Pundit has a reference to the MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) test. Having taught for a few years, I can believe that students found this problem difficult. Not surprisingly, one student found the question not to be a challenge:
Anandh Swaminathan, a junior at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School, was surprised to hear that half of his peers in the Commonwealth answered the question incorrectly. He didn't remember it as particularly difficult.

''It's a typical Algebra I problem," said Swaminathan, 15. ''It seems more straightforward. I actually thought that some of the other ones were harder."

Exactly. It's a problem that students would have been confronted with in the most basic Algebra course. So why the #$%^&*( can't they solve it?

Some math teachers think they have the answer:
Math teachers said the baseball question was a fair one, although puzzling to those unfamiliar with the sport.

''I certainly think our kids who are not speaking English as their primary language may not know the word grandstand or the word bleacher," said Debby Feldman, head of the math department at Brockton High School.

''When kids are reading a math problem and come up against words that are specific to a specific area and they don't know what they are, a lot of times it just freaks them out."

Oh, please. Anyone who has been in the country for less than a year may not know where in the stadium the seats are, but the context is clear - the problem is about seating, not location. For those delicate flowers who "freak out", I have just three words - GET OVER IT!

As the Viking Pundit likes to say:
there are three kinds of people in the world: those who can count and those who can’t.