The following multiple-select question, explained here in hopes of helping geometry 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 geometry, here:
A square has sides that are each 90 feet long. Which equations can be used to calculate d, the length of a diagonal of the square, in feet?
Select all that apply.
Resources for further study
Purple Math, developed by Elizabeth Stapel, a math teacher from the St Louis area, has a few pages about the Pythagorean Theorem in case you need to review your eighth-grade geometry, beginning here.
The Khan Academy, developed by Sal Khan, an engineer who has a few videos dealing with how to use trigonometry to find the sides of a right triangle. With trigonometry, you can even find the length of two sides given one side and one of the acute angles in a right triangle.
Chapter 9 of the book Geometry for Enjoyment and Challenge by Richard Rhoad et al, all teachers from Illinois, puts it all together, including solving the Pythagorean Theorem equation for any side in a right triangle given the other two, and using trig to find the length of any side in a right triangle given one side and one of the acute angles.
(Richard Rhoad, George Milauskas, and Robert Whipple. Geometry for Enjoyment and Challenge, new edition. Evanston, Ill.: McDougal Littell, a division of Houghton Mifflin Company, 1991. The book is used in several geometry classes taught in Illinois high schools.)
Analysis of this question and online accessibility
The question measures knowledge of the Common Core standards it purports to measure, one being in eighth grade and the other in high school. It tests students’ ability apply the Pythagorean Theorem to find the distance of the hypotenuse of a right triangle and to use trigonometric ratios to find it. 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.
Often these problems will have a real-world context, rather than just being about a square. Pretend you are the groundskeeper at a stadium and you have to order a new rope for one of the flagpoles. To find out what length of rope you need, you notice that the flagpole casts a shadow 11.6 meters long on the ground. The angle of elevation of the sun is 36°50′ and you need to know how tall the pole is. Then, you’ll need to double that to order the rope and add a little slack. What length of rope will you buy?
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.