The following fill-in-the-number question, explained here in hopes of helping eighth-grade students and their parents 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 2016 test for grade eight math:
Both of the equations shown have the same solution when solved for x.
What is the value of h?
Analysis of this question and online accessibility
Fill-in-the-number questions prevent students from entering words and may even prevent them from typing a decimal point, since an answer is a whole number. I can’t be sure what constraints technology might have placed on students’ ability to enter a decimal point.
The question format prevents guessing, since no options are presented, and the student must enter a number from scratch.
The question is accessible for students on any device they may use or on paper. However, because paper test-takers would be required to respond to a multiple-choice format for this question, validity, reliability, and fairness measures may differ among the various delivery modes. Students who don’t know how to do the problem as required in the Common Core might be able to guess the correct answer, from the four options on a paper-based test, whereas students answering the question online won’t have those pre-formatted answers available at test time and won’t be able to plug in values for h in a guess-and-check manner to see if they work.
- Systems of linear equations from the Utah State Office of Education
- Solving system of linear equations on Purple Math
No special accommodation challenges can be identified with this question, so the question is considered fair.
Purpose of this series
To help eighth graders and their parents prepare for the PARCC test in math, as administered in at least six states, or to just master content on that test, we provide an analysis of every eighth-grade math problem PARCC released. The series can be found here.