Students across the state are still scratching their heads over an absurd state test question about a talking pineapple.
The puzzler on the eighth-grade reading exam stumped even educators and has critics saying the tests, which are becoming more high stakes, are flawed.
“I think it’s weird that they put such a silly question on a state test. What were they thinking?” said Bruce Turley, 14, an eighth-grader at Lower Manhattan Community Middle School.
“I thought it was a little strange, but I just answered it as best as I could,” said his classmate Tyree Furman, 14. “You just have to give it your best answer. These are important tests.”
In the story, a take-off on Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the hare, a talking pineapple challenges a hare to a race. The other animals wager on the immobile pineapple winning — and ponder whether it’s tricking them.
When the pineapple fails to move and the rabbit wins, the animals dine on the pineapple.
Students were asked two perplexing questions: why did the animals eat the talking fruit, and which animal was wisest? Teachers, principals and parents contacted by The News said they weren’t sure what the answers were.
“My reaction is horror that a question that’s so obviously confusing should be used on a test that is going to be used to determine our kid’s future and the future of our children’s schools,” said parent Leonie Haimson, of Class Size Matters, who first posted the question on her blog.
In response to revelations that the state exams had become predictable and easier to pass, the state last year awarded a new $32 million contract to testing company Pearson to overhaul the tests.
The new exams have higher stakes for principals and teachers statewide, whose evaluations will be based in part on student scores beginning as soon as this year.
Scarsdale Middle School Principal Michael McDermott said the question has been used before and “confused students in six or seven different states.”
And he had a quick answer to the question of who is the wisest: “Pearson for getting paid $32 million for recycling this crap.”
One of the questions even stumped 74 time Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings, who said of he "who is wisest" question, "Honestly, I'm still not particularly sure what the intended answer is."
The city confirmed the questions were on the exam, but declined to discuss any specifics, and Chancellor Dennis Walcott directed questions to the state.
State officials wouldn’t divulge the answer and said they couldn’t speculate on whether the questions will be scored or scratched because of the controversy. They also noted that under new state rules, the questions and answers won’t be released.
Pearson spokesman Jason Smith said the state Education Department prohibited the company from speaking to the press on “matters like this.”
The Hare and the Pineapple
by Daniel Pinkwater
In olden times, the animals of the forest could speak English just like you and me. One day, a pineapple challenged a hare to a race.
(I forgot to mention, fruits and vegetables were able to speak too.)
A hare is like a rabbit, only skinnier and faster. This particular hare was known to be the fastest animal in the forest.
“You, a pineapple have the nerve to challenge me, a hare, to a race,” the hare asked the pineapple. “This must be some sort of joke.”
“No,” said the pineapple. “I want to race you. Twenty-six miles, and may the best animal win."
"You aren't even an animal!" the hare said. “You're a tropical fruit!"
“Well, you know what I mean,” the pineapple said.
The animals of the forest thought it was very strange that tropical fruit should want to race a very fast animal.
"The pineapple has some trick up its sleeve," a moose said.
Pineapples don't have sleeves, an owl said
"Well, you know what I mean,” the moose said. "If a pineapple challenges a hare to a race, it must be that the pineapple knows some secret trick that will allow it to win.”
“The pineapple probably expects us to root for the hare and then look like fools when it loses,” said a crow. “Then the pineapple will win the race because the hare is overconfident and takes a nap, or gets lost, or something.”
The animals agreed that this made sense. There was no reason a pineapple should challenge a hare unless it had a clever plan of some sort. So the animals, wanting to back a winner, all cheered for the pineapple.
When the race began, the hare sprinted forward and was out of sight in less than a minute. The pineapple just sat there, never moving an inch.
The animals crowded around watching to see how the pineapple was going to cleverly beat the hare. Two hours later when the hare cross the finish line, the pineapple was still sitting still and hadn't moved an inch.
The animals ate the pineapple.
MORAL: Pineapples don't have sleeves
Beginning with paragraph 4, in what order are the events in the story told?
A switching back and forth between places
B In the order in which the events happen
C Switching back and forth between the past and the present
D In the order in which the hare tells the events to another animal
The animals ate the pineapple most likely because they were
Which animal spoke the wisest words?
A The hare
B The moose
C The crow
D The owl
Before the race, how did the animals feel toward the pineapple?
What would have happened if the animals had decided to cheer for the hare?
A The pineapple would have won the race.
B They would have been mad at the hare for winning.
C The hare would have just sat there and not moved.
D They would have been happy to have cheered for a winner.
When the moose said that the pineapple has some trick up its sleeve, he means that the pineapple
A is wearing a disguise
B wants to show the animals a trick
C has a plan to fool the animals
D is going to put something out of its sleeve
Read more: Talking pineapple question on state exam stumps ... everyone! * - NY Daily News
What say you, PerC? How would you answer these questions? Explain your answers!