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Maybe it Isn't You. Maybe the Questions are Messed-Up.

Virginia public school worksheet question posted on facebook.  Used with permission.

Wiggledy word problems don't do anything to help children reason and learn.  It isn't even really a math problem. 

So. There are 34 students in a given class.  Twenty of them do track and 18 jump rope.  How many do both?

I'm guessing 18 do both because 14 students don't feel like doing any work at all.

Additional questions in my head:

1.  Why is Tom even introduced?  Is he a gym teacher?  A child?  Who is Tom?

2.  Don't these people know anything?  One oughtn't begin a sentence with a number if it's at all avoidable.

3.  How many of the possible right answers are acceptable to the real teacher grading this assignment?


  1. This is a fairly standard Math problem. Tom is introduced to make the question seem more friendly, kids like to know their teachers names apparently.
    The answer? Who knows. 14 DON'T do track; 18 DON'T jump rope. The difference there is 2 so possibly those 2 do both. Or the 18 who jump rope also run track....

  2. Unless the gym class is in Fantasyland, the answer is none... since you can't run around a track and jump rope at the same time..... ��

  3. Ok, you guys. I keep hearing the answer is four, so everyone is wrong! Or right! Or... under Common Core... you have to "explain" your answer. Any answer with social justice and equity probably would be graded as correct. Oh, and fairness. :)


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