Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I win!

The Stranger, the more hippy of the ‘news’papers in Seattle wrote an article criticizing the current state superintendant for not being able to answer 3 questions they gave her from the WASL* (Washington Assessment of Student Learning) test. These particular questions are logic problems used to evaluate students’ reasoning processes. Students are instructed to “Write to help explain your best thinking using words, numbers, or pictures” when answering these questions. I believe partial credit is given to those who do not correctly answer them but show how they got their answers. The three questions given to her are as follows:

Tom, Dick and Harry work in a bank. One is the manager, one is the cashier and one is the teller. The teller, who was an only child, earns the least. Harry, who married Tom's sister, earns more than the manager. What position does each person fill?

Penny works in the Package Palace. It is Penny’s job to stamp the sides of packages that are not touching the floor and not touching another package. Today there are 25 packages on the floor. Penny put the packages into 5 stacks, and the sides of the stacks touch. How many sides of packages must penny stamp.

The local recycling plant has just bought a new metal compactor that produces a smaller cube of scrap iron than does the older machine. Somebody noticed, however, that the combined volumes of one cube from each compactor was numerically the same as the combined lengths of all their edges. What are the dimensions of the cubes, if you consider only integral solutions?

The superintendant, Terry Bergeson, only attempted the first two questions and got both of them wrong. I tried and got all three right, therefore I’m now accepting write in votes for the position as the new State School Superintendant.

*The WASL test was put together by a panel of teachers and representatives from the largest employers in Washington to evaluate the basic knowledge and reasoning abilities of Washington high school students. Those who pass the test show that they meet a satisfactory level of reasoning ability required to be hired by these companies. Sadly, few students pass every section of this test on their first attempt, and most teachers (including the superintendant) fail as well.

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