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Want to Feel Really Dumb? Take this Standardized Test

April 21, 2012, 1:00 PM
Standard

There are so many things wrong with this story. First, a children's author parodied the famous Aesop fable of The Tortoise and the Hare, substituting a pineapple for the tortoise. To put it kindly, the story was not an improvement on the original. Next, the story was used in a standardized reading comprehension test for eighth grade students. The last, and worst part: the test writers came up with a series of 6 comprehension questions, two of which are completely baffling. 

That's why we're turning to Big Think readers for your help. Can you succeed where the eighth graders failed? Take the test below.

In the olden times, animals could speak English, just like you and me. There was a lovely enchanted forest that flourished with a bunch of these magical animals. One day, a hare was relaxing by a tree. All of a sudden, he noticed a pineapple sitting near him.

The hare, being magical and all, told the pineapple, "Um, hi." The pineapple could speak English too.

"I challenge you to a race! Whoever makes it across the forest and back first wins a ninja! And a lifetime's supply of toothpaste!" The hare looked at the pineapple strangely, but agreed to the race.

The next day, the competition was coming into play. All the animals in the forest (but not the pineapples, for pineapples are immobile) arranged a finish/start line in between two trees. The coyote placed the pineapple in front of the starting line, and the hare was on his way.
Everyone on the sidelines was bustling about and chatting about the obvious prediction that the hare was going to claim the victory (and the ninja and the toothpaste). Suddenly, the crow had a revolutionary realization.

"AAAAIEEH! Friends! I have an idea to share! The pineapple has not challenged our good companion, the hare, to just a simple race! Surely the pineapple must know that he CANNOT MOVE! He obviously has a trick up his sleeve!" exclaimed the crow.
The moose spoke up.

"Pineapples don't have sleeves."

"You fool! You know what I mean! I think that the pineapple knows we're cheering for the hare, so he is planning to pull a trick on us, so we look foolish when he wins! Let's sink the pineapple's intentions, and let's cheer for the stupid fruit!" the crow passionately proclaimed. The other animals cheered, and started chanting, "FOIL THE PLAN! FOIL THE PLAN! FOIL THE PLAN!"

A few minutes later, the hare arrived. He got into place next to the pineapple, who sat there contently. The monkey blew the tree-bark whistle, and the race began! The hare took off, sprinting through the forest, and the pineapple ...It sat there.

The animals glanced at each other blankly, and then started to realize how dumb they were. The pineapple did not have a trick up its sleeve. It wanted an honest race — but it knew it couldn't walk (let alone run)!

About a few hours later, the hare came into sight again. It flew right across the finish line, still as fast as it was when it first took off. The hare had won, but the pineapple still sat at his starting point, and had not even budged. The animals ate the pineapple.

And now for the questions:

1. Why did the animals eat the pineapple?
a. they were annoyed
b. they were amused
c. they were hungry
d. they wanted to

2. Who was the wisest?
a. the hare
b. moose
c. crow
d. owl

We're totally baffled by these questions. Please submit your answers in the comments below. A PDF of the full test can be found here

BONUS Question:

Education theorist Bill Ayers (yes, THAT Bill Ayers) once said "standardized tests can't measure initiative, creativity, imagination, conceptual thinking, curiosity, effort, irony, judgment, commitment, nuance, good will, ethical reflection, or a host of other valuable dispositions and attributes." In what ways does this test lower the bar even further?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @Daniel Honan

 

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