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The Talking Pineapple. A test question with no answer? Could end a teacher's career.

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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-12 07:39 PM
Original message
The Talking Pineapple. A test question with no answer? Could end a teacher's career.
Things are getting way beyond unbelievable, and just plain stupid. I have said often that when I was giving the FCAT and monitoring around the classroom, I could see questions I could not answer. There were questions that made no sense, and there were answers to those questions that were just as nonsensical. I could not have chosen a good response no matter how hard I tried.

Here is an example of such a test item.

Talking pineapple question on state exam stumps ... everyone!

In the story, a take-off on Aesops fable about the tortoise and the hare, a talking pineapple challenges a hare to a race. The other animals wager on the immobile pineapple winning and ponder whether its tricking them.

When the pineapple fails to move and the rabbit wins, the animals dine on the pineapple.

Students were asked two perplexing questions: why did the animals eat the talking fruit, and which animal was wisest? Teachers, principals and parents contacted by The News said they werent sure what the answers were.

My reaction is horror that a question thats so obviously confusing should be used on a test that is going to be used to determine our kids future and the future of our childrens schools, said parent Leonie Haimson, of Class Size Matters, who first posted the question on her blog.


Here is more about the test item and the story.

From Anthony Cody at Education Week:

The Pineapple Story Tests Us: Have Test Publishers become Unquestionable Authorities?

The story is an absurd tale of a talking pineapple, who challenges a hare to a race. The story must be read to comprehend the controversy.

The questions that follow make even less sense. Students are asked
1. Why did the animals eat the pineapple? 
a. they were annoyed
 b. they were amused
 c. they were hungry
 d. they wanted to


2. Who was the wisest?
 a. the hare 
b. moose
 c. crow
 d. owl

Pearson, the largest test publisher in the world, has said that company policy forbids them from commenting. This story is remarkable for several reasons. First of all, the patent absurdity of the questions. In today's data-driven world, the scores these student achieve could be used to end a teacher's career.


The entire story and question sequence is at this link.

UPDATE: I just read that state officials in NY pulled that item from the test.

Amazing what happens when people take notice of such a ridiculous thing.






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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-12 09:17 PM
Response to Original message
1. Any parents concerned about kids having to take tests like this?
I wonder how many are catching on to the stress their children are feeling. Many of us feel these are tests meant to cause the failure of traditional public education and the hastening of privatization of such.
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-12 11:10 PM
Response to Original message
2. There's some satisfaction in knowing....
that though my "one-note" posts may not make a difference in stopping the education privatizer steamroller......

That I was one of the bloggers who got people to at least notice that steamroller.

Too bad our Democratic leaders would not take a stand for public education.

I take a little pride in getting people pissed off enough at me to pay attention.
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Octafish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-12 11:18 PM
Response to Original message
3. What is the sound of one pineapple cracking?
Wise.
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-12 11:25 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. .......
:evilgrin:
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Leopolds Ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-21-12 12:59 AM
Response to Reply #3
6. That should be a test question
hehehehehe!

Wise :kick:
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Leopolds Ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-21-12 12:56 AM
Response to Original message
5. I don't know, sounds like an example of why we live in a dying culture. We're not creative thinkers
People get angry, when confronted by creatively nonsensical koan-like test questions.

Or anything that does not have a defined "purpose", for that matter. The reason is because they set it up so that functional test questions intended to inspire creativity must have a career improvement function and therefore all creative writing, liberal arts curriculum is banned.

They imagine that the answer on tests must have some meaning simply because they have foolishly adopted a medieval examination style system for weeding out the 99%, preventing them from sharing in the imagined elite future that they think should only be awarded to their high-scoring children.

The government even legislates Pragmatism, dictating that buildings may not have a not-for-profit use, for example, without a special permit. And that use has to be on the list of approved functions for which human beings exist. Functionalist materialism at its finest.

<< Apologies to William Carlos Williams

On the other hand, a more frightening thought is that we are not in a dying culture but in one that is adapting to a stronger culture of global corporate authoritarianism, aka "robot driven economy" which has found that Chinese-style examinations, conformity, and lack of liberal discourse is better suited for success.
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-21-12 01:12 AM
Response to Reply #5
7. Heh heh love the cartoon caption. Clever.
:hi:
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Leopolds Ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-21-12 04:33 PM
Response to Reply #7
10. Thanks, mad. See, I think questions like this are some admin's attempt to break out of the system
Without realizing that the system of "mandatory" examinations dictating a student's or teacher's place in the pecking order (a la France or China) actually militates against such creativity or brain-boggling questions, since the object of such questions is to get students to succeed by "failing" or experimenting, like the Kobayashi Maru. So it makes no sense to attempt to inject such envelope-pushing (or sometimes, wacky or a protest against the idiocy of the test from within the testing apparatus) questions into a test where the only humane way to limit the damage done by such tests (unless we actually want to move to a national examination system like France or China -- which pre-supposes equal funding for all public schools, natch) and prevent a "hard" meritocracy from developing (a meritocracy where the 1% succeed and all other students get less, which is the system we see the technocrats pushing for in schools and business today) is to make the tests as mind-numbingly easy as possible, which is indeed what a lot of jursidictions are doing. But of course many students who have been ill-served by our school system (and the culture of consumer capitalism advertising ignorance as a virtue) still fail.
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Leopolds Ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-21-12 04:38 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. But if the test were not a mandatory examination, I'd love to see questions like this
But if the test were not a mandatory examination, I'd love to see teachers pushing their students by posing them nonsensical or disturbing situations this way. Some of mine did. It's the same reason fairy tales always used to be dark. Kids should not grow up and suddenly learn that the "world sucks" vis a vis the happy horseshit they were sold in grade school; they need a proper education in ethical and liberal and civic issues to enable them to formulate their own thoughts about the world. The proper time to start teaching kids a lot of stuff that struggling students are failing in is actually much earlier in life, when the only stimulation they were getting was from the boob tube or violent video games.
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-21-12 06:09 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. Not for a high stakes test that determines a teacher's future.
That is not the place for questions with no good answers. The testing companies have been getting away with crap questions for too many years. I have almost cried with my students who could not pick out a good answer.....because so much of the time I could do so either. And I taught 2nd and 4th grades usually, and I have a high degree of intelligence.

They put questions with 4 choices that in so many cases do not make sense.
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Leopolds Ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-21-12 06:19 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. Like I said... but those sort of tests should not exist anyway. :-)
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-22-12 08:19 PM
Response to Reply #14
18. True.
:hi:
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Leopolds Ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-21-12 05:20 PM
Response to Reply #7
12. Source for picture
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formercia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-23-12 11:47 AM
Response to Reply #5
19. Massive Social Engineering
In the article I posted earlier,the author alludes to it. Perhaps he wasn't completely aware of the implications or was afraid to let his mind wrap itself around it.
I read the responses and a few, again, alluded to it, but I asked myself who would be harmed most by this test format and who had the most to gain by it.
My conclusion was that the kids who thought 'outside the box', the ones most likely to look at new ways of thinking and doing, would be the ones most likely to suffer lower scores because they considered answers that strayed from the official true answer. Over years of taking these tests, the most gifted had to chose in failing with low scores, or succeed by going along with the program. It doesn't even have to be a conscious decision, since success becomes the gratification and being right is just wrong thinking.

This plays right into the hands of the Authoritarian mentality, which has the most to benefit from the behavior modification.
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Leopolds Ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-25-12 10:37 AM
Response to Reply #19
23. Yep, it's the same way that regiments train people to get with the program isn't it?
Make it a losing proposition for them to choose any other option other than to conform and they will choose to conform on their own.
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NYC_SKP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-21-12 10:05 AM
Response to Original message
8. Parents and teachers need to just not do it, they need to strike. I'm about to do this myself.
We just finished the STAR testing in California, and parents may opt out.

I have often thought about encouraging them to do that, just PLEASE say NO!

As with anything else, if enough people say no, it will go away.

Enormous waste of time an resources, and actually puts kids in a funk.

Teachers, too.

It is counterproductive.
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-21-12 03:51 PM
Response to Original message
9. The full pineapple story and all 6 questions. A teacher's career judged this way??
http://www.scribd.com/doc/90420925/The-Hare-and-the-Pin...

Unbelievable.

Arne Duncan, is this part of the education "reform" you promised?
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-22-12 06:54 AM
Response to Original message
15. Obviously, the answer is "36."
:crazy:
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dtexdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-23-12 02:39 PM
Response to Reply #15
21. How can you be so wrong?
We all know that it's "42."

Do you need a hitchhiker's guide or something?
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-12 06:27 AM
Response to Reply #21
22. 42? (*snort*) Seriesly? Got a link?
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formercia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-22-12 05:49 PM
Response to Original message
16. Speaking of Florida.....
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-22-12 08:18 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. That is some sickening stuff to read.
I knew parents who tried to get a review of their child's scores...last I heard they were hiring a lawyer.
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dtexdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-23-12 02:36 PM
Response to Original message
20. Actually, it's a clear set of questions with obvious answers.
That includes that the owl was the wisest. That is telegraphed by the "moral" of the story: that pineapples don't have sleeves.

Now, true, only some of the questions are relevant -- such as the one about the order in which the events were recounted in the story. Others rely on knowledge of the general culture and language, such as what was meant by "something up its sleeves." So, no, I don't like the overall set of questions. But there was nothing particularly tricky in them.
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