FL School Board Member Can't Answer Any Math Questions on FCAT

I looked at the test and I wasn’t shocked that there are a lot of adults, even with college diplomas, that can’t pass the math section of the FCAT, but can’t answer any of the questions? Most of the questions I could answer by figuring out the answer in my head or just by eliminating the three of the choices. That there are people in responsible positions that are that ignorant and not even ashamed of it is rather upsetting. It suggests to me that to eligible to run for the school board in Florida, you need to pass the FCAT.

Quote from Washington Post




That’s scary. Unless he deliberately didn’t try to do well, in order to make his point (several commentors don’t seem to think so), there’s no excuse for an administrator to not get any correctly. At a quick glance, one of them is nothing more than reading a graph. Some others are straighforward averaging or calculation. Some require a little knowledge of math and very little calculation. There are several things any competant businessman or administrator ought to know. It’s not rocket science.

I dunno, the guy looks to be in his late fifties. I doubt he’s had to use a trig identity or write a geometric proof in many decades. That you forget things you haven’t used for thirty years is hardly surprising. I’m not sure it really tells us anything one way or another about the wisdom of using such tests

The guy was obviously at least a little embarassed, as he kept his identity anonymous for the first story.

Why? I mean, if we have someone on the board that can’t find the area of a rhombus, what negative effect does it have?

Trig wasn’t used for any of those (at least I didn’t). There was a bit of geometry that was likely to be lost (the inner-angles one) and reducing a square root is not something you’re likely to use later in life. But the first one was simple enough that just about anyone should get it, or at least not be lost working it out. Hell, you could just plug in the answers and see which one worked.

Well, on the one hand you’re right. But on the other it’s important to remember that just because he can’t answer them now doesn’t he mean he couldn’t in 10th grade. Using his ignorance (and later success in life) isn’t a justification for throwing out (or even modifying) the test.

Each question has 4 answers so random guessing would give about 15 right. Not only is this guy, who claims to have a degree in science, unable to answer basic math quesions, he can’t even guess well and doesn’t even mention the fact that he guessed well below average. The real story here is that idiots get to be teachers and school board members.

I would support a lot of the complaints about standardized tests but having some guy call “I have a science degree and it’s too hard for me” just demonstrates that he needs to give his degree back.

With a nod to Matt Groening:
Those who can’t do, teach. Those who can’t teach become guidance counselors. Those who can’t be guidance counselors become coaches. Those who can’t coach become school board members.

He doesn’t claim to have a science degree. He has a Bachelors of Science in education. I don’t know much about education degrees, but I doubt it involves much math, so its conveivable that last time he saw a lot of this material was when he was in Highschool himself.

I’m in my early fifties and got 5 of 7 answers correct. No trig required. A bit of remembering geometry (“When two parallel lines are cut by a transversal, the alternate interior angles are equal.”) But that just made it quicker; a bit of reasoning could substitute for the theorem quite nicely.

I don’t understand how the year 1813 is a better answer than 1822. In my reading of the graph, the best answer would have been 1818, just a shade below 1820. And I complely screwed up on the number of palmettos.

In my experience, education was not a rigorous subject, and I have seen some truly stupid people gain education degrees. I have seen assholes get physics degrees, but never stupid assholes.

I’m surprised they even gave you the equations. A tenth-grader should be able to do that on his own. That’s when I knew this wasn’t going to be a math test, but was instead a moron test in disguise.

The thing is, not knowing how to calculate area or read a graph or estimate a tree population is not just a signal that you’re ignorant of those things. It’s a signal that you’re fucking stupid and shouldn’t be trusted with any sort of decision-making whatsoever

I should also add that while 10th grade math may fade, there is absolutely no reason to get only a 60% on the reading part. Those questions are were all very simple (even for poetry-based questions, I’d guess the prose ones are even easier) for someone who is required to have good communication skills as part of their job.

I think you were confused by the labels on the vertical axis only marking every second line.

The vertical axis has a line every 2.5 million. Two times 4 million is 8 million, or 3.2 lines. Or, to put it another way, 7.5 is 3 lines, and 8 is a little bit more than 7.5, so it has to be a little bit later than 1810.

It is seriously sad that someone who has a “bachelor of science degree, two masters degrees, and 15 credit hours toward a doctorate” could not answer even one of those math questions. I think the guy must be exaggerating.

By the way, question 6 (estimate Palmetto Palms) - looks more like 1,000 to me.

The FCAT wasn’t introduced until 1998 or so (I had to take it in the 10th grade, but it was “non-binding”, as they were just using that year’s results to gauge the difficulty of future tests). So it’s highly unlikely that any school board member in Florida has passed the FCAT, as it were.

I came up with 1818 as well initially, but then looked at the vertical axis again. The ~8 mark has to be above the 7.5 divider (which is ~1810) but below half-way between the 7.5 and 10 (which is 1815).

And yeah, I have no idea what the palmetto one was going for, I estimated 40 per square and something like 20+ squares and figured 1000 was the closest answer.

I dunno, I use math every day so it seems kinda dumb to me when people can’t do simple math stuff. But if you asked me to diagram a sentence, or label the chambers of the heart, or do many of the other relatively simple things I learned in HS but haven’t used since, I wouldn’t have a clue either. And I’m a lot closer in time to my HS days then the School Board member is.

So I try not to judge people that have forgotten simple math skills if they’re not in a position to need that kind of stuff. I think stuff like that seems a lot more obvious then it is if you have occasion to use it frequently.

I prefer the simplier…

Those that can’t do…teach. Those that can’t teach…administrate.

A Masters in Mathematics Education is not even the equivalent of a college degree in mathematics…so Bricker speaks the truth. The guy in the OP probably does NOT have a science degree.

If I’m reading the graph correctly, the population hits 10 million in 1820 and keeps going steadily up after that, so the right answer has to be before 1820.

I got 7/7, but I admit I would have been flying blind on the palmettos and the square-root-of-50 problem if the wrong answers weren’t so obviously far off the mark. (FWIW, my degrees are in English, and I haven’t taken a math course since I was a senior in high school.) Before I tried the sample test, I was prepared to think the administrator had a semi-legitimate point; now, I can only conclude that someone whose reasoning skills are that deficient probably shouldn’t be working in the school system at all.

You did what I did and thought 1810 is on the 5 million line, when it’s actually on the 7.5 million line. So you should look for a year closer to the bottom line, not the top.

I screwed up the harmonics because it said “Here’s first, second, and third. Using this pattern…” and I gave it the fourth instead of what it asked for, the fifth. I also estimated 800 tree and guessed 650 instead of 1000 partially by luck. I mean, I wasn’t going to go drawing on the screen.

You have emphasized a very important point here, but unfortunatley you have badly misinterpreted its import: Worse-than-chance scores do not show an inability to “guess well,” but rather tend to show a deliberate attempt to do poorly on the exam. The administrator at issue has long been an opponent of high-stakes testing—which may be a valid position (I express no opinion on the matter), but I don’t think dishonesty is a good approach in making one’s argument.