This week’s sign that America’s educational system is truly struggling: Palm Beach County high schools are making 23% a passing history exam grade. Hell, it’s a multiple choice test — if there are four possible answers to each question, random guessing would get you a 25%!

(Would it be passe to connect this back to Palm Beach County’s other bigtime embarrassment involving multiple choice and percentages?)


Hey-zoos kristo. No wonder America’s getting so screwed up… we can’t even educate our children anymore. What are they going to do when they reach college?!

• Posted by: SpecialK on Jun 2, 2002, 2:23 PM

Hmm… I don’t think probablility works like that.

The probability of scoring a 100 on a 50 question multiple choice test would be:

0.25 raised to the 50th power.

Which is a very, very, very small number.

• Posted by: James Spahr on Jun 2, 2002, 2:28 PM

James, I’m not talking probabilities, I’m talking outcomes. If you make a random guess at a four-possibility question with one answer, you have a 25% chance of getting the answer right.

• Posted by: Jason Levine on Jun 3, 2002, 12:50 PM

Yes, but what’s the probability of getting 100%?

• Posted by: Anil Dash on Jun 3, 2002, 3:16 PM

With random guessing? 0.2550, which is 7.8886E-31.

With knowledge of the subject matter? Significantly higher than that. We’d hope the Palm Beach County high schoolers have knowledge of the subject matter, of course — but then again, apparently they don’t, or more accurately, apparently their teachers don’t expect them to.

• Posted by: Jason Levine on Jun 3, 2002, 3:22 PM

Right, but what would be the probability of a high schooler getting a perfect score on the test?

• Posted by: Anil Dash on Jun 3, 2002, 4:05 PM

Who cares what the probability of getting 100% is? Jason’s statement is the pertinent one and random guessing should get you a passing grade.

• Posted by: Ralph Sabene on Jun 3, 2002, 11:01 PM

Well, it’s a relief that High School Prinicpal David Culp is such a smartie: “If I have an educated guess, I could get 30 to 40 percent correct,” he said.

I’d hope he could get a bit higher than that.

Anyway, would it be gauche to point out that Palm Beach County claims to have a problem on multiple choice tests even when they think they know the right answer?

• Posted by: Mike Wasylik on Jun 4, 2002, 8:14 PM
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