The New York Times just posted an article regarding an international assessment of middle school mathematics teachers.
Fair enough: my job next year is to address this problem. That’s not what bothers me about the article.
What bothers me is the sample problem:
On the figure, ABCD is a parallelogram, angle BAD = 60º, AM and BM are angle bisectors of angles BAD and ABC respectively. If the perimeter of ABCD is 6 cm, find the sides of triangle ABM.
(Try to solve it yourself before moving on.)
Issue #1: I (and likely many people doing the problem) used a meta-argument on the perimeter. Implicitly the figure is divided into what looks like 6 equal parts, so with a perimeter of 6 cm, probably each part is 1 cm. At the very least this step comes across as artificially manufactured test trickery rather than real mathematics.
Issue #2: I realize it is “standard”, but do people really need the properties of the 30-60-90 triangle? This strikes me as “legacy knowledge” from back when trigonometry was inconvenient to do. (The article says nothing about calculator use, but I suspect they were not allowed.)
These aren’t significant or serious issues, but they do make me worry about the quality of the other questions on the test.