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Please, let it be sandbagging.

Please, let it be sandbagging.

One of my friends circulated a link to a disturbing article from WaPo: When an adult took standardized tests forced on kids.

Basically, an “administrator” with a BS and two MAs flunked this extremely basic 10th grade Florida state math test.

This is the test in question: 

After reading his review of the test, I was genuinely concerned that I would do poorly. Here is the answer guide:

I did the 40 back questions of the test and got 39 correct using the calculator on my iphone. Math has never been my strong suit; I always got respectable grades but it was with far more effort than I applied to my science, foreign language, and English courses. This, however, was not a hard test. It was pretty basic and any formulas I may have forgotten were provided at the beginning.

I hope he intentionally did poorly to make his lame point about the unfairness of high-stakes testing (“sandbagging”). Otherwise, we’re in more trouble than I thought.


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In my experience, this was not sandbagging. We are in trouble.

I have to agree, he was not sandbagging. We are and have been in serious trouble for a long time. This is an easy test. The only thing that would make it difficult would be a 90 minute time limit and confiscate all calculators.

    Neo in reply to OldNuc. | December 7, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    In college, I had this “statics and dynamics” course taught by the author of our textbook, Ferdinand Beer. He really like slide rules .. even had an appendix in the back of the text on how to use a slide rule. Every day of class, everybody brought in a slide rule … except on days when we had a quiz, then everybody brought their calculator.

      Is it even possible to buy a slide rule anymore? I don’t think I have one anymore, though I held on to my last one from school for quite a few years. Almost 9 years. I mean 90. No, wait. It was 0.9. I’m absolutely sure of it.

      (Them was the days)

SoCA Conservative Mom | December 7, 2011 at 4:16 pm

I’m so depressed now. Seriously? A Calculator? AND The formulas? We are so doomed as a nation. Really, they need the formula for figuring out the area of a rectangle? Doomed.

    Calcs and formulas are common practice today. Standard in all my Finance MBA courses a few years back. What youre calculating and the principles behind it are far more important than getting bogged down in the math.

      SoCA Conservative Mom in reply to Jaydee77. | December 7, 2011 at 8:32 pm

      An MBA program is a wee bit different than 10th grade MATH for (insert expletive here) sake. If they are calculating the area of a rectangle and you give them the formula and allow them to use calculators, what’s the point? Obviously they don’t understand the concept or the multiplication involved.

I want to see what his answers were. Some of the math questions in the test you linked to weren’t even math. Question 2 was testing the concept of the word “between”.

I did just 20 questions (got bored after that) and got 19 out of them right. In fact, I didn’t use a calculator for the first 10. The teacher is either a moron, or lying. If he isn’t lying then that says a whole lot about the American education system.

    Who ever said that school officials (or the teachers for that matter) ever had to know the subject that they were teaching. I’ve seen more bad science teachers than Carter makes of those little liver pills.

Grand dad said, “Send a fool to collage and you get an educated fool.” However in this case he also missed getting an education as well. It’s not his fault. Ed schools will allow imbeciles to obtain higher degrees with little effort other than attendance and a paid up account. The pity is this person thinks he has a collage education where in fact he doesn’t have a high school education. There are many teachers not in his category but there are also many that are similarly incapable. Grand dad also said, “The quickest way to the brain is through the ass.” But I digress.

It’s easy. This is the first week of freshman physics.

Personally, I always liked test, especially math and all science except anything with biology in it (too man degrees of freedom for my tastes).

I R A Darth Aggie | December 7, 2011 at 4:48 pm

I know someone who used to work for Florida DoE. When they first rolled out FCAT, teachers were required to pass the same test.

Many of them failed. They were allowed to retake it, but hearing the stories of extremely desperate teachers trying to find/buy/game their way thru was…disconcerting.

I got the answers ok. It’s that complicated answer grid thingy that got me confused. (actually it’s the way it was explained. I’m assuming this is standard practice now to offset people’s handwriting of numbers.)

This is why Texas no longer allows High school subjects to be taught by “education” degree holders. You get a degree in the subject matter (in this case math) and then you spend a year getting a teaching certificate (half of which is your student teaching).

I got bored about half way through. If that guy got them wrong he either sandbagged or got his degrees from some diploma mill. Because I was getting them all right.

Me, I have a night school degree and damn proud of it. Earned every credit while working full time.

    Neo in reply to jnials. | December 7, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    I knew a guy who switched colleges. When he got to the new school (which will remain nameless), he said that “they were teaching” what he called “‘baby math’ to the students.”

VetHusbandFather | December 7, 2011 at 6:53 pm

“If I’d been required to take those two tests when I was a 10th grader, my life would almost certainly have been very different. I’d have been told I wasn’t ‘college material,’ would probably have believed it, and looked for work appropriate for the level of ability that the test said I had.”

Sounds like they should have told him he wasn’t college material. It makes me wonder how much of his BS and two MAs were paid for by taxpayers. We probably wasted thousands on him so he could wind up being an crappy public servant with a overinflated salary and sense of self-worth. Now we are wasting millions more on his salary and eventually his pension. This statement only makes me further suspect I’m right:

It makes no sense to me that a test with the potential for shaping a student’s entire future has so little apparent relevance to adult, real-world functioning.

    Kathleen McCaffrey in reply to VetHusbandFather. | December 7, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    I know! I love how the whole argument of his article stems from the assumption that he’s smart and his results do not prove otherwise.

I did a few of the questions in my head and quit because I was bored (Yes, my answers were correct).

It seems likely that the person who took the test has his degrees in subjects that do not involve math. Women’s Studies or something equally rigorous. Maybe Psychology.

The problem, in any case, is not the test, which was not difficult by any stretch of the imagination.

Sandbagging? I think not.
My daughter has a BS and two MA’s and is working on her PhD.
From her early years in school right through college I had great fun with my red pen correcting her teachers notes and instruction papers and writing side-notes in regard to flawed information being taught.
I don’t think they liked me much when they had to admit I was right ’cause I’m just a dumb woman with an old-fashioned high school diploma who couldn’t possibly know as much as I do.
Do you suppose those poor people in the office where I had to sign in when I wished to speak with a teacher or, oh God…..the principal? were usually smiling before I arrived?
The saga continues with my grandchildren…hehehehe 😉

Kids are lucky today. When I was in school, we never saw the first six pages – only the questions.

I think that the problem is that said administrator is as dumb as a rock. The questions are totally reasonable.

BurkeanBadger | December 7, 2011 at 9:20 pm

This was a relatively vapid article. Not Kathleen McCaffrey’s commentary, but the original article on which it is based. I understand that its point was mostly polemical, but it proved next to nothing and offered no significant argument.

Assuming that this “administrator” wasn’t sandbagging (and I doubt that he was), what did his poor performance on a standard tenth grade test prove? That he was either ill prepared, didn’t put forth full effort, is a poor test taker or is relatively incompetent. Or, more likely, some combination of the above.

I know what the author of the article wants it to prove: That “corporate”** education has imposed banal, stifling and completely useless standardized tests upon our children, stomping on their curiosity and creativity and straight-jacketing brilliant and talented teachers and administrators.

This is not a new or particularly insightful argument. Matthew Arnold made a similar argument 150 years ago. It’s been the standard mantra by progressives and teacher’s unions for decades. Whatever its merit (not much, in my opinion), the fact that a heavily degreed educational bureaucrat flunked a high school standardized test is no evidence in the argument’s favor.

That he has two master’s degrees is nearly irrelevant. But this exemplifies the way many progressives think. There is an obsession with credentials on the left which has no comparison on the right (generalizing a bit, I realize). Conservatives tend to first look at the substance and logic of the argument, liberals tend to first look at the educational background and degrees of the individual making the argument. This, then, informs their opinion of the actual substance of the argument. I don’t think this is an accident, given that the dream of classical progressives (Dewey, Pound, Croly, etc.) was a vast administrative state governed by “disinterested” technocrats, educated in the right schools, by the right professors (namely, progressives). That dream remains strong among many on the left.

So, when one of those anointed souls, such as an educational bureaucrat, flunks a standardized test, CLEARLY there is something wrong with the test and the whole argument for such tests. Clearly.

It just can’t be that this fellow is either lazy or a dolt. Perish the thought!

**Can a progressive journalist/intellectual/pundit/blowhard write an entire article without invoking this, most unholy and evil of terms? It is beyond a weasel word or a cliche; it’s just downright annoying

This is the laziest Math test I’ve ever seen. The students have to do nothing but show up and maybe calculate. When I did Math, the exam book contained no formulae. We had to know them or bust. Our questions had no answers provided. We had to do the math or bust. Now these lazy little bastards have instructions about using a calculator. We have cooked the food, brought it to the table, served it, taken up a scoop, and are putting it into the mouths of some of the laziest most careless ignorami any civilization has ever been unfortunate to entertain. I don’t care if the guy was sandbagging. I care that today’s children are encouraged to live lives without effort.

ConserveLiberty | December 8, 2011 at 12:28 am

That test might have been a challenge for the median student in 8th Grade, in my public school, in 1969. I did 25 questions correctly with a pencil and a sheet of paper before I got bored.

Full Disclosure: I majored in Eng Lang & Lit but had a broad introduction to business accounting, economics, college math, chemistry, biology some social sciences and plant science at a fine State University.

At age 33 I “discovered” math and took self-study Certificate Programs in probability-based investment strategies, requiring a rigorous classroom week and comprehensive 8-hour exam taught at Wharton School, U. Penn.

All anyone has to do to get a “B” is listen in class and do the homework.

Dunno if you guys read the SECOND article … the school board member tried to defend his wrong answers

“On the FCAT, they are reading material they didn’t choose. They are given four possible answers and three out of the four are pretty good. One is the best answer but kids don’t get points for only a pretty good answer. They get zero points, the same for the absolute wrong answer. And then they are given an arbitrary time limit. Those are a number of reasons that I think the test has to be suspect.”

So part of the reason is that they chose a wrong answer, because it was too close to a right answer??

Wrong is wrong… not “Wrong is wrong, but only if it’s not close to the right answer…” So before we start congratulate this guy for pointing out any flaws in the test, look at what he says is “wrong” with it.

10th grade math. I was in 10th grade during the 1958-59 school year, so it has been a while. I spent about 4 or 5 minutes to look through the upfront material and then about 15 minutes to take the first 11 questions and got 10 right (while listening to a telephone conference call). My conclusion: the guy with the BA and the two MS degrees is incompetent. Forget the college degrees and find out if it is possible to revoke his high school diploma.