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Regents Recap — June, 2017: Three Students Solve a Math Problem

I will never understand why so many exam questions are written like this (question 5 from the June, 2017 Algebra exam):

What is the purpose of the artificial context?  Why must the question be framed as though three people are comparing their answers?  Why not just write a math question?This question not only addresses the same mathematical content, it makes the mathematics the explicit focus.  This would seem to be a desirable quality in a mathematical assessment item.

Instead of wasting time concocting absurd scenarios for these problems, let’s focus on making sure the questions that end up on these exams are mathematically correct.

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One Comment

  1. Josh Britton says:

    Hey, Mr. Honner, I really appreciate you calling this out! Part of my profession is to write software that dynamically generates practice questions that support teachers’ needs. I HATE the fact that in order to mimic texts and tests, I need to gussy up straightforward problems with artificial stories. I can’t ignore this nonsense and cut to mathematical chase because teachers need their students geared up to survive high stakes tests. Ick! All of us trapped and sullied.

    Josh Britton

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