Tuesday, March 10, 2015

We have to do better..

Print Friendly and PDF After having been away for a while, I finally had the opportunity to look at the January 2015 New York State regents Exam in Algebra I (Common Core). I looked at the first question on it, and immediately my head was scratching.
The problem is:

I know that the answer expected is choice 2, which probably should have said "hours worked per week by employee". That ambiguity made me realize a few things about this question.

First, I presumed that profit is measured in dollars (as I took this as a problem for New York State). Placing that fact together with the mathematical knowledge that no units were given in the equation, and that only like terms can be subtracted, I came to the conclusion that the 8600 was really $8600. Now the 22 could be 22 of anything, but the nearness of $22 in the problem led me to accept that most would take it to mean $22.  Basic mathematical knowledge forces the conclusion that the x must then be "unit-free". That means that the x need not be the hours worked (by the employee".

Second, and this is probably due to some basic cynicism on my part, the use of a linear function for profit is as "unreal" as you can get. Do we wish students to be pushed a bit in their minds towards the notion that employee work-time is bad for business?  Is this the best we can do in the billion-dollar industry of education in New York under the guidance of Governor Cuomo?   Who creates these tests? 

Later on appears this questions:
This problem has some style points to its credit, but a big fat goose-egg when it comes to its realism.  The acceleration due to gravity on the Moon' surface is not .8 m/sec2 but is, rounded, 1.6m/sec2.  In the big quest to make problems "real", doesn't it make sense to use real information?

All is not so gloomy, however. Here is question #2, which to me is a masterpiece when it comes to a multiple choice question testing a meaningful skill.

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