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The New York Daily News staff sent the question to Jeopardy!wizard Ken Jennings... who responded with similar confusion.
"Is this a joke? The story makes no sense whatsoever," Jennings told the paper. "The narrative has no internal logic, the “moral” is unclear, and the plot details seems so oddly chosen that the story seems to have been written during a peyote trip ... A ninja and toothpaste? What does that even mean?"
(The passage appears below)
The Pineapple and the Hare, h/t to the New York Daily News:
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.
Here are two of 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
Apparently, the same reading passage and associated questions have been recycled by Pearson for standardized exams in Florida, Illinois, Delaware, New Mexico, Arkansas, Alabama, and perhaps other states, causing huge confusion among students for at least the last seven years.
This crazy test question harks back to equally unexplainable schoolwork questions which arose at the Center City Public Charter School's Trinidad campus in Washington D.C. back in March. The questions, which had school officials up-in-arms, featured morbid, mature, and violent content.
For example, question number 2 in the worksheet stated:
"My 3 friends and I were caught and tied up by 1023 screaming cannibals in a jungle last night. Soon we were feeling terribly itchy because of the mosquitoes. We begged the cannibals to scratch us. 219 cannibals refused because they were busy cutting vegetables. The rest of them, however, surrounded us in equal numbers and began to scratch us with their teeth, just like dogs. It felt good! How many cannibals scratched me?"
The unnamed teacher was terminated after the questions where brought to the attention of school officials.
UPDATE, 5:57 P.M.:
The Huffington post received a statement from New York Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr.:
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.1The passage and related questions are not reflective of the precision of the entire exam. The accuracy and efficacy 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.
Other controversial school-related documents from around the country: