The following multiple-choice question, explained here in hopes of helping algebra students in Maryland and Illinois prepare for the PARCC test near the end of this school year, appears on the released version of PARCC’s Spring 2015 test in algebra 1, here:
The graph shows the relationship between the weight, in pounds, of Vidalia onions and their cost.
Which best estimates the cost per pound?
- A. $0.78
- B. $1.29
- C. $2.58
- D. $10.32
Resources for further study
Purple Math, developed by Elizabeth Stapel, a math teacher from the St Louis area, has a very nice description of what the slope and y intercept almost always mean in the context of a word problem like the one posed by this PARCC question. The page can be found here.
The Khan Academy, developed by Sal Khan, an engineer who has created a library of thousands of video lessons, has one that describes how Jordan can’t help but adopt more cats, which she does at a constant rate in the word problem he solves. What do the slope and y intercept mean in this context? He explains here.
Chapter 2, Section 2.2 of the book Algebra 2, Illinois edition by Ron Larson et al deals with slope and the rate of change. The authors use a Sequoia tree with a trunk that has a diameter of 137 inches in 1965 and 141 inches in 2005. The average rate of change, R, in inches per year, is given by the formula
where d is the change in diameter, and y is the number of years. To find the average rate of change, also known as the growth rate of the tree, in inches per year, we can use
The trunk grows, on average, 0.1 inches in diameter every year.
Complete reference: Ron Larson, Laurie Boswell, Timothy D Kanold, Lee Stiff. Algebra 2, Illinois edition. Evanston, Ill.: McDougal Littell, a division of Houghton Mifflin Company, 2008. The book is used in several algebra classes taught in Illinois high schools.
Analysis of this question and online accessibility
The question measures knowledge of the Common Core standard it purports to measure and tests students’ ability to estimate the rate of change in a linear relationship given a graph. It is considered to have a low cognitive demand.
The question can be tested online and should yield results that are as valid and reliable as those obtained on paper.
No special accommodation challenges can be identified with this question, so the question is considered fair.
If the Sequoia tree in Mr Larson’s book continues to grow at this rate, what will the diameter of the trunk be in 2105?
When will the tree have a greater trunk diameter than another Sequoia tree in the same forest that grew from 149 inches in 1965 to 152 inches in 2005? Use graphs and tables to check your answer.
Purpose of this series of posts
Voxitatis is developing blog posts that address every algebra 1 question released to the public by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, in order to help students prepare to take the test this spring.
Our total release will run from February 27 through March 15, with one or two questions discussed per day. Then we’ll move to geometry at the end of March, algebra 2 during the first half of April, and eighth grade during the last half of April.