Two PISA Crap

Below are two “units” (scenarios) used in the PISA 2012 testing of mathematics. The units appeared in this collection of test questions and sample questions, and appear to be the most recent questions publicly available. Our intention is for the units to be read in conjunction with this post, and see also here, but of course readers are free to comment here as well. The two units below are, in our estimation, the most difficult or conceptually involved of the PISA 2012 units publicly available; most questions in most other units are significantly more straight-forward.




5 Replies to “Two PISA Crap”

  1. Just want to first say it is refreshing to be met with something other than the Crime Minister’s face when checking this blog. First thing I noticed is they didn’t use the ‘straight edge’ angle thingy to indicate a 90 degree angle. Maybe it’s not a problem at all but I thought it was something to point out. And I’m not sure why they had to say that the picture was not to scale.

    1. Thanks, Craig. I can’t promise you won’t see more of ScoMoFo. One cannot over-abuse the dumb shit.

      As for the questions above, I wasn’t suggesting they were particularly problematic. They’re just intended to indicate the highest reaches of PISA’s testing. I agree it’s slightly weird to write 90 degrees directly, rather than symbolically, though it’s not a big deal. The “not to scale” warning is also weird, since the diagram seems pretty much to scale, and certainly enough for the multiple choice question. The answer guide to the PISA WitCH problem suggests that some students in some countries may have rulers during the test, so perhaps they are looking to discourage direct measurement. Or, maybe they just don’t know when to shut up.

  2. They are interesting questions. Hideous for an EAL student (not knowing what translations were made available for students doing the test in different countries) and full of irrelevant words and numbers. And yet, there are a few parts that are still ambiguous, to me at least. For example, if the wind if blowing, the cord attaching the sail to the boat will incur a force and therefore be curved itself… surely?

    The numeracy is not so difficult, but the point of the questions seem very hidden.

    So, what are they actually wanting to test here? Not what the media reports we are falling behind in, surely.

    1. Thanks, RF. The questions aren’t intrinsically worthless, though the framing of the questions pretty much kills it, and not just for EAL students. I’m not sure that the assumption of a straight rope is ambiguous, but it is a significant simplification.

  3. I don’t like the wind question. Is the deck measurement true or apparent? Also, the kite sail has a disadvantage when trying to sail upwind (at all). Just anyone who has sailed, will be confused with this question. I do like the impulse to do interesting questions. And I liked a cost/benefit question on #4 (didn’t look close enough to see why you gig it).

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