Courtesy of frequent commenter Red Five, a maddening and absolutely hilarious article:

**Guessing C For Every Answer Is Now Enough To Pass The New York State Algebra Exam**

### Ed Knight

*My student, River, spent more time in the courtroom than the classroom last year. One Friday night in September, a drunk friend called and asked for a ride home from a party. River obliged. That’s a problem when you’re 14 years old. On his excellent adventure with his drunk friend, River drove over the landscaping of several local businesses and ended with his car in the woods caught in a web of maple sugaring lines. Things spiralled from there.*

*All of which is to say that River didn’t learn algebra last year.*

*I mean it: zero algebra was learned. He wasn’t even present in my classroom for most of three marking periods. At the end of the year, he asked me how he was supposed to pass the state test.*

*“No problem,” I said. “Just pick all Cs.”*

*“What?”*

*“Try it. I bet it will work.”*

*It worked.*

Read the whole thing, and then scream.

For statistical inference fans here are a couple of classics:-

1. Final Exam

A statistics major was completely hung over the day of his final exam. It was a true/false test, so he decided to flip a coin for the answers. The statistics professor watched the student the entire two hours as he was flipping the coin… writing the answer… flipping the coin… writing the answer. At the end of the two hours, everyone else had left the final except for the one student. The professor walks up to his desk and interrupts the student, saying, “Listen, I have seen that you did not study for this statistics test, you didn’t even open the exam. If you are just flipping a coin for your answer, what is taking you so long?”

The student replies bitterly (as he is still flipping the coin), “Shhh! I am checking my answers!”

2. The Ten Commandments of Statistical Inference

Thou shalt not hunt statistical inference with a shotgun.

Thou shalt not enter the valley of the methods of inference without an experimental design.

Thou shalt not make statistical inference in the absence of a model.

Thou shalt honor the assumptions of thy model.

Thy shalt not adulterate thy model to obtain significant results.

Thy shalt not covet thy colleagues’ data.

Thy shalt not bear false witness against thy control group.

Thou shalt not worship the 0.05 significance level.

Thy shalt not apply large sample approximation in vain.

Thou shalt not infer causal relationships from statistical significance.

Steve R

As I have said before, the purpose of assessment is to estimate where students are in their learning. If a student answers (c) to Q4, this tells me nothing about the student’s learning.

Yes, Terry, everything is a nail.

Fair point. Look beyond the multiple choice though. That is where I really screamed when reading the article.

RatS indeed. That is nuts, just insane!

Anyone who thinks multiple choice is the problem here is not paying attention. What an absolutely insane state of affairs.

I shouldn’t be surprised. A dead simple test that contributes a lot to your grade would be popular with students, parents and principals here as well. Let’s hope that it somehow doesn’t come to pass.

I suppose for me the take away here is that when possible, we should stand up for what we believe in.

“When in doubt, Charlie out.” Very old testing advice…