Friday, April 4, 2014

Math Test or Reading Test?

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I ask you to carefully compare two test questions. (You do not have to solve them.)

From the top of an apartment building, the angle of depression to a car parked on the street below is 38 degrees, as shown in the diagram below. The car is parked 80 feet from the base of the building. Find the height of the building, to the nearest tenth of a foot.


Solve for length x:

What's the big difference? Well it's twofold.
First, the second problem is a trig question. The first problem is a trig question embedded in, ummmm.., words?  Ignoring random error, more students should get the second one correct than the first one. Why? Less reading!!!!

The second difference is that the first problem was question 36 on the NYS Algebra Regents from this past January. the second was not on that test. 

Is there any reason why, on a math test, questions would be buried in verbiage?  NYS already has massive amounts of reading tests. Why turn a math test into a reading test?

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