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

Fair Share 4 Albany

The push for the city of Albany to get that additional $12.5 million from the state continues... The Sheehan administration, backed by the city's state... (more)

"Let's just throw up some cones and see what happens for a week"

Some food for thought as the Capital Region continues to look toward expanding bus rapid transit: A city adjacent to Boston lacked a rapid transit... (more)

Brew goes Pint Sized, plans second location (and a tiny bar)

Changes are coming to Brew, the popular beer/coffee shop on Lark Street. Owner August Rosa says he's changing the name to Pint Sized. And he's... (more)

Details for the As You Are Albany premiere

Here are the details for that special Albany premiere screening of As You Are, the Sundance prize-winning film that shot in this area in 2015...... (more)

Oprah speaking at Skidmore's commencement

Oprah Winfrey is set to be the speaker at this year's Skidmore commencement May 20 at SPAC. (See Skidmore News story.) The college will be... (more)

Recent Comments

Trinity United Methodist on Lark and Lancaster is a very diverse and progressive church. About half of the congregation is white with the other half being from all different ethnic and racial backgrounds. There is a good mix of young and old, with many younger adults. It's a very accepting church for people who identify as lesbian or gay as well.

Examining the forces and maps that redlined the city of Albany

...has 18 comments, most recently from BS

How we all ended up talking about a gondola between downtown Albany and the train station

...has 12 comments, most recently from mg

Brew goes Pint Sized, plans second location (and a tiny bar)

...has 1 comment, most recently from JayK

The untaxed city within the city

...has 36 comments, most recently from JayK

A progressive, friendly, diverse church?

...has 11 comments, most recently from Barbara Conner