Worst math regents questions of June 2010
Math B, 23:
Solve for x:
Why equals 27? Because they were hoping to trick kids. Wow, clever adults.
Do you agree? Disagree? Have other nominees?
Integrated Algebra, 30:
The value, y, of a $15,000 investment over x years is represented by the equation What is the profit (interest) on a 6-year investmet? (1) $6,600 (2) $10,799 (3) $21,600 (4) $25,799
First off, quite wordy. Second, neither profit nor interest are ever defined (except as equivalent to each other). Leading to third, this was a trap question. In my school, it had by far the lowest correct response of any multiple choice. And these are kids who read fairly well.
Algebra II/Trig, 29
The scores of one class on the Unit 2 mathematics test are shown in the table below. (There follows a frequency table, 7 lines, 22, tests). Find the population standard deviation of these scores to the nearest tenth.
This is a 2-point free-response question. Kids use a calculator. They write down the right answer. 2 points. They write down the wrong answer. 0 points. They write down the right answer, but with an extra decimal place. 1 point. They write down something close to the right answer. Um, er, maybe they used sample standard deviation? 1 point. Or missed entering one number in the calc? We can’t tell, 0 points. Or double entered one number? We can’t tell, 0 points. What in the world is being tested here?
Integrated Geometry, 6
A right circular cylinder has an altitude of 11 feet and a radius of 5 feet. What is the lateral area in square feet of the cylinder to the nearest tenth? (1) 172.7 (2) 172.8 (3) 345.4 (4) 345.6
This question is designed to punish, for 2 credits, a student who multiplies 2 digit numbers with pencil and paper. The correct answer is (4). It requires three decimal places of π. They know that a kid who is not using the calculator will use two decimal places.
Back in the day, they told us that calculators can help a kid calculate. They told us the calculator can deal with tedious or repetitive work, and allow the kid to concentrate on mathematical ideas. I don’t know that I bought that 100%. But I understood. But requiring use of the π key is something else. It says the kid may not calculate without the calculator. The kid does not have permission to multiply. They have crossed a line. I hope everyone notices.