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Confusing Pineapple Question Not Found on Florida Exams

Have your kids reported strange questions on this year’s FCATs?

A talking pineapple challenges a hare to a race. The hare wins. The pineapple gets eaten by a gaggle of forest creatures.

Which character was the wisest?

No, it’s not a joke or the plotline for a beloved children’s fable. Believe it or not, that’s an abbreviated version of a question that appeared on this year’s 8th-grade New York State Exam – a test similar to the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

So why should it matter to Tampa Bay area parents? That question was prepared by the same company that puts together the FCAT for our students, according to The Huffington Post. FCAT testing began in Florida on April 16 and continues this week.

NCS Pearson has long been responsible for Florida’s standardized tests. It also prepares tests for other states, including New York. Back in 2010, the company was responsible for causing a big delay in getting results out to Florida schools – and their nervous students. The issue caused such a stir, even The Washington Post reported on it.

Fast-forward to 2012 and Pearson is making headlines again, this time with the talking pineapple question on New York’s test. The Huffington Post says that very question has appeared on Pearson-created tests in Florida, Alabama, Illinois and other states in previous years.

According to the Bureau of K-12 Assessment at the Florida Department of Education, the pineapple question has never appeared on a Florida standardized test.

That assertion is challenged by followers of a Facebook page dedicated to the talking pineapple story. One of the page’s fans reports that the question did appear on the FCAT in 2006.

Talking pineapples or not, one question does remain: Have your children encountered nonsensical questions while taking this year’s FCAT?

Kelly's Tales April 23, 2012 at 06:44 PM
The pineapple question came from an excerpt from a children's novel. Here is what the author had to say in response to the use of her edited story on an assessment. http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/pineapple-idiots-knew-book-world-dumbest-test-question-article-1.1065566 When I taught public school years ago there was a question about student's experience in the snow. How would a Floridian know about that unless they have traveled?
Tracey Suits April 23, 2012 at 08:52 PM
This year's test, my son tells me, had a math question that used playing card symbols for operations. The student needed to convert the card symbols to a mathematical symbol and then follow the order of operations. Many students don't know what a spade looks like and our ESE teacher said that her students were confused, thinking they were new mathematical symbols they had never encountered before!
Sherri Lonon April 23, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Oh no, Tracey! I'm not even certain my kids are clear on the ins and outs of a deck of playing cards. Anyone else hear of that one or another unusual question?
Robert Krampf April 24, 2012 at 12:34 AM
The Science FCAT has its own problems. http://thehappyscientist.com/blog/problems-floridas-science-fcat-test
Sherri Lonon April 24, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Thanks for sharing your work and your blog, Robert. The questions you raise are thought-provoking indeed. I do wonder how many schools would have higher grades from the state if the questions were vetted with more rigor.

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