If ever there was a reason to pull a stop on standardized testing mania, it's this story.
The Hare and the Pineapple.
Yes, apparently in NYC's 8th grade standardized test there was a reading section, based on a story by Daniel Pinkwater, the children's author, about a hare and a pineapple having a race, based on The Tortoise and the Hare. (The story was altered from Mr. Pinkwater's original according to Mr. Pinkwater.)
So the Pineapple challenges the Hare to a race and as all the other animals are standing around, the Crow says the Pineapple has something up his sleeve because the Pineapple can't move. (It is also pointed out that pineapples don't have sleeves.)
So when Hare arrives and takes off, they are confounded but then the Hare finishes the race and everyone cheers and eats the Pineapple. The End.
Naturally, if you are an 8th grader who can actually READ, you may have a problem figuring out the moral of the story.
The Education Commissioner says the media didn't print the whole thing and "it makes more sense in the full context of the passage" but admits the questions are "ambiguous." Here's the whole thing.
Mr. Pinkwater told the New York Daily News that it's the "world's dumbest test question."
Apparently this question has been used in several different states and confused kids in all of them.
Now if the use of this story is to challenge kids to think differently about motivation or find nuances in stories, there are better stories.
Here's a 1931 8th grade
test for comparison from The Answer Sheet blog at the Washington
From Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post:
The problem, of course, isn’t one test question that people think was
badly drawn, or the strong likelihood that other questions on these
exams make little sense or actually assess only a small band-width
of skills, concepts and knowledge that we want students to know.
The problem is that the results of standardized tests are
being used in New York and other states to assess not only students
but teachers, principals and schools through complicated formulas that
purport to show how much “value” a teacher adds to a student’s
achievement. Researchers say that “value-added” assessment models can’t
do what supporters say they do and are unreliable accountability.
The stakes of these tests are getting higher as educator evaluation
systems are being put in place that are based largely on how well a
student does on these exams.