Thoughts on Pineapplegate?

Sliced pineappleI never would have thought that one of my favorite exports from Hawaii and the animal that inspired my favorite cartoon character would play such an interesting role in the discussions surrounding education reform. Yet there they were, the pineapple and the hare, driving students and teachers to distraction. In a bit of absurdity that would have made even Bugs Bunny during his wild years shake his head in amazement, something called Pineapplegate reared its ugly head in the world of education.

Are you familiar with Pineapplegate? Because if you’re not, you really should hear what this is all about. (Go ahead, google pineapplegate.) Although the reading selection—an extensively edited version of a brief scene in a Daniel Pinkwater novel—and its accompanying questions have appeared in standardized ELA tests since 2006, it was only recently that this test selection made its way out of the classroom and onto the desks of a few well-connected education bloggers and journalists.

In the selection, the reader encounters a handful of talking forest creatures. Among them is a hare. The hare is challenged to a race…by a talking pineapple! However, the whole thing gets even more absurd when a student must answer questions which are almost unanswerable, as they require the reader to make sense of a nonsense story.

Well, the whole thing has been quite an eye opener for parents, teachers, education reform advocates, and others. Many have tried to make sense of what the publisher has done in this case. One thing is clear: New York State alone paid the publisher of this test more than $32 million to implement it statewide and has now withdrawn the question from the test in the wake of the furor.

Do you oversee student testing in your classroom? Have you found something as absurd as “The Pineapple and the Hare” in your students’ test booklets?

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