In a hastily written statement released Friday afternoon, NY’s State Ed commissioner may have unwittingly compromised the integrity of the state’s eighth grade ELA exam by releasing the full text of the now famous “Pineapple and Hare” passage as well as the accompanying questions.
Students across the state who were absent on the initial testing day will be asked to make-up the exam before Tuesday. Regional scoring of the exam begins next week.
Apparently Commissioner King did not consider the risk of jeopardizing the test answers when he reacted to the barrage of media reports about the exam. By Friday evening, the test had been profiled by reporters for the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, and the Wall Street Journal, the later including scathing remarks by the story’s author, Daniel Pinkwater.
Parents, teachers, and education officials are now expressing greater concern about Dr. King’s response than the original exam questions which were provided by the educational testing company Pearson Inc. His press release (see below) begins with the phrase “First of all…,” and seems to pass the proverbial buck to a teachers panel which apparently vetted the question.
As of Friday, sources in Albany have suggested that state officials may press for Dr. king’s resignation.
STATEMENT FROM EDUCATION COMMISSIONER JOHN B. KING
ON THE HARE AND THE PINEAPPLE
First of all, the “passage” printed in the media is not complete. Although the questions make more sense in the context of the full passage, due to the ambiguous nature of the test questions the Department has decided it will not be counted against students in their scores.
It is important to note that this test section does not incorporate the Common Core and other improvements to test quality currently underway. This year’s tests incorporate a small number of Common Core field test questions. Next year’s test will be fully aligned with the Common Core.
This particular passage, like all test questions, was reviewed by a committee comprised of teachers from across the state, but it was not crafted for New York State. It’s a passage that has been used in other states and was included by Pearson Inc., the test vendor, to provide a comparison between New York students and students from other states.1 The passage and related questions are not reflective of the precision of the entire exam.
The accuracy and efficacy of our state assessments are crucial to our reform efforts and measuring student academic growth. We will, as always, review and analyze all questions on every assessment we administer.
The actual Hare and Pineapple passage and related questions can be found at: