Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Monday, August 10, 2015

NY Test Question Stumps Writer Of Passage Used On The Test

Not exactly the "Pineapple and the Hare" debacle but still a telling tale about the quality of questions that are on the state tests in New York:

The East African fable goes like this: A man frees a snake that is trapped between two rocks, and as a reward the snake gives him a charm that will allow him to hear what animals say, but only if the man keeps it a secret. The man betrays his new power by giggling at the things he hears, arousing his wife’s curiosity. He eventually tells her about the charm, and it stops working.

This story, which was included on this year’s New York State third-grade reading test, is easy to read. But a couple of the questions that went along with it on the test were trickier, stumping many third graders and, perhaps, even a few much older readers.

Reached at home in northern England, the author of the passage, Saviour Pirotta, said that he did not know that his story, part of a book he wrote called “Around the World in 80 Tales,” was being used on the New York tests, but that he was not displeased. (His publisher, Macmillan, granted permission for its use.)

He was initially stumped by the same question Dr. Afflerbach took issue with, but when told the answer, he said it made sense.

Mr. Pirotta described the moral of the story as that keeping secrets is hard but a skill worth learning. On the final question, which was answered correctly by 48 percent of students, the test-writers suggested there was another lesson, and Mr. Pirotta said he agreed with that interpretation, too.

“You can sort of read different things into it,” he said.

Sure, you can read different things into - but you can only get one correct answer on a standardized test.

If the author if the passage couldn't get some of the questions about the passage he wrote right, how good could those questions be?


  1. Why should a third grader know what it means to take something for granted.

  2. I thought the moral of the story was there are consequences for one's actions.

    Too Much College

  3. I really don't understand the controversy here. Students, including third graders, are regularly taught that the plot consists of a problem and solution. Asking them how the main character contributed to the development of the plot is a completely apporpriate reading comprehension question. Seems like Dr. Afflerbach is out of touch with contemporary education in this instance.

  4. And, this is most likely the best of what they CHOSE to show.

  5. By the way, the fact that 50% got it right means that only 1 out of 4 got it right because 25% will get the correct answer by guessing.