#### Comment Preferences

• ##### no--slope is a standard linear concept.(4+ / 0-)

y=mx + b is THE standard equation for a line, where m is the slope (or gradient).  You learn that when coordinate geometry is first introduced at the most basic level--probably in Algebra 1 (8th or 9th grade).

I can understand if you've been out of the math world for 20 years and have no dealings with the coordinate plane, but otherwise slope is as standard as factoring, Pythagorean Theoream, or any other fundamental concept.

• ##### True, but that's why introducing a(3+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
elfling, Odysseus, Cassandra Waites

fence into the problem makes no sense.  And certainly doesn't make it relevant to the real world.  In the real world context of fencing, the slope or grade of the land would make sense, not the 2-dimensional slope of the line.  Why not simply ask the slope of the line segment?

The federal government is basically an insurance company with an army. Paul Krugman

[ Parent ]

• ##### not really it makes perfect sense(0+ / 0-)

because they explained it and asked specifically for a certain slope measurement.

• ##### Makes it a better question(0+ / 0-)

Assuming arguendo that Florida 10th graders are likely to confuse the concepts of the slope of a line segment drawn on a plane and the problem of building a fence on a grade, this problem does double duty.

First, it differentiates between those who know they are taking a math test from the ones who don't. Then, it lets the former demonstrate their mastery of the concept of computing the slope of a line.

However, I think there is likely to be considerable overlap between the group that doesn't know they are taking a math test and the group that cannot compute the slope of a line.

"Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation..."--David St. Hubbins

[ Parent ]

• ##### Problem is, if the kid has actually built a fence(0+ / 0-)

then he's going to think of slope as something different.  The term has two completely different meanings, and introducing a situation that confuses the two meanings makes the question distracting -- especially for any kid who has built a fence.

It's sort of like asking a physics question about horsepower and applying it to horses instead of to engines.

• ##### I'm not buying that(1+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
Deep Texan
Problem is, if the kid has actually built a fence then he's going to think of slope as something different.

One of the basic requirements for understanding any subject is knowing that words have specific meanings separate from the everyday, that plane geometry isn't about airplanes and organic chemistry isn't about Whole Foods.

Kids are taught what a "slope" is in mathematics, and you should be able to expect a 10th grader to know what that asking for the "slope" of a line segment on a math test is asking for a slope in the mathematical sense.

A 10th grader who built a fence shouldn't be confused by the mathematical use of the word "slope" on a mathematics test.  Or rather, if he is, then maybe the test should identify that cognitive deficiency.

Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

[ Parent ]

• ##### I did calculus (2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
elfling, Cassandra Waites

and used advanced algebra for years in my work in finance and academia.

I'm also kind of a fanatical do it yourselfer in terms of home repairs.

The question threw me momentarily because slope in home repairs, including fence making, has a completely different meaning.

If it slowed me down for a few seconds, then it will have a more severe effect on kids and in particular a bias against kids who actually know how to build a fence.

We're not talking about completely disabling a kid from answering, but bias that can affect the validity of the statistical outcome of the test.

What's the point of even a small bias against fence builders?

• ##### not if he's been taking math and looks at that(0+ / 0-)

cartesian plane.

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