Wise animals and ambiguous pineapples

nysed test pineapple hare illustration

Noted: Pineapples don't have sleeves.

Weird, a little funny, and maybe flecked with insight: The state Education Department found itself caught recently in a kerfuffle regarding test questions about a talking pineapple on an 8th grade English Language Arts standardize test. Yep, a talking pineapple. [NYT]

The passage -- based on a bit from Daniel Pinkwater's Borgel -- tells the story of a pineapple that bets a group of animals that it can beat a hare in a race. (Spoilers!) The pineapple loses and the animals eat the pineapple.

The full passage and questions are after the jump.

Two of the questions on the reading comprehension test -- about why the animals ate the pineapple, and which animal was wisest -- prompted complaints from teachers, parents, and students because, you know... there's not a clear answer. That's a problem on a multiple choice test. [NYDN]

On Friday state ed commissioner John King announced the questions wouldn't be counted "due to the ambiguous nature of the test questions." NYSED says the question was developed by a company called Pearson, has been used in other states, and "the passage and related questions are not reflective of the precision of the entire exam." [NYSED]

After reading the passage and the questions, we didn't think they were necessarily inappropriate for kids that age. Sure, they're ambiguous, but getting a kid to form an argument about why something happens in story where not everything is spelled out seems like a good idea. It's just that this sort of thing doesn't work well on a multiple choice test. The question shouldn't have been "circle one." It should have been "pick one and explain why."

And that highlights one of the (many) tensions right now in education: students, teachers, and schools need to be evaluated -- but doing so can be difficult, and often doesn't scale well.

Earlier on AOA: Capital Region elementary school test scores 2011

The test passage and questions as shared by NYSED:

NYSED the Hare and the Pineapple

illustration via NYSED test

Comments

Obviously it was a con. The other animals were placing bets on the pineapple. Who were they placing the bets with? The hare. When the race was over, the animals ate the pineapple, not realizing that the animal behind the scheme was the hare.

Next week, the hare will move on to another forest, find another patsy pineapple and do the con all over again. He'll be a very rich hare.

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

Recently on All Over Albany

A quick recap of the week

Here are a few highlights from the past week on AOA: + Lauren took her brunch tour to Latham. + There was a seal in... (more)

Today's moment of summer

Posing on Cortland Street in Albany in the early evening sun.... (more)

Favorite lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, and other bodies of water

It is currently time to do all the summer things. And "all the summer things" often includes finding a lake, river, stream, some body of... (more)

Stuff to do this weekend

A midsummer weekend awaits, full of sunshine and stuff to do. Savor it. Enjoy it. Commit it to memory so you can conjure it in... (more)

Morning Blend

Community support follow slurs People in Wynantskill have been rallying support for a couple whose house was vandalized with anti-gay slurs -- and a local... (more)

Recent Comments

The state of our roads makes it too dangerous for me to want to use my bike to go to work. It's scary enough to walk/jog around town and have people fly through stop signs/lights when I'm using intersections... and on a bike it's that much worse if you attempt to bike legally in the street. This would be a great start to making our community more safe in general. We have to start somewhere.

Three thoughts about the push for protected bike lanes in Albany

...has 42 comments, most recently from JayK

Reading through the Impact Downtown Albany playbook

...has 5 comments, most recently from JayK

Options for the Madison Ave Road Diet

...has 5 comments, most recently from Joe A

Good brunch spots in/near Schenectady?

...has 13 comments, most recently from Stephen

Morning Blend for Jul 31

...has 2 comments, most recently from Amelia