## Observations on the PARCC sample Algebra I exam

Similar to my breakdown of the PARCC Algebra II, here’s some question-by-question comment on the sample PARCC Algebra I Final Exam. I’m not too discouraged by the actual items on this one, but the interface needs work.

This is the second problem of the test. You click points to set a line, then click “solution set” to shade in one side. Note (just like the Algebra II test) the points snap to half-grid points, not to grid points, a circumstance I find hazardous. Also, if you click on solution set to color a side, then realize your line was wrong, you have to click back on “line” again but the color goes away, so you have to add the color back again after the line is fixed. This is true even if switching the line from solid to dotted.

I should add this is one case where I see the superiority of open response to multiple choice. Here’s an inequality graphing problem from our old state test:

The lack of choices makes the problem a dotted-or-solid / above-or-below question where the actual shape of the graph is given away.

The question here is fine, but what if a student drags in the wrong number and wants to fix their answer? Removing a number only works if you drag the number back to the original number boxes, just “tossing” the number to a random position outside the answer box doesn’t work.

One common technique in the PARCC interface is for students to fill in sentences with a drag-down menu. By my eye, though, the interface doesn’t look much like a sentence, and I could imagine a student not understanding they are placing words between f(2) and g(2) and so forth to produce something that is meant to be read from left to right.

I guess 4 answer boxes — clear overkill — is better than the situation with 2 answer boxes where the suggestion seems strong to fill both of them even if one of the answers turns out to be extraneous.

I’m pretty sure logarithms aren’t supposed to be on the Algebra I test? Also, the graph is drawn automatically through the points, unless it can’t like in the example above. It took me a bit of deciphering to realize there’s an asymptote on there (right on the y-axis) and the asymptote can be slid around, so the reason the graph wasn’t showing up is the points were on opposite sides of the asymptote.

Do the blanks really have to be so large? I admit to getting confused because the symbols spread out in a single function looked to me like function-break-really small expression-break-random parenthesis and I had to do a double-take before I realized what was going on.

I hope students have their window large enough to realize (or least deduce from there being a “Part A”) that there is a “Part B” to the question.

There’s a truly weird option to change colors of things. Sometimes I can get it to trigger but I’m not sure how. The upper right inequality in pink shows what things look like after you’ve messed with the color.

There’s even an interface for systems of linear inequalities. Notice how there’s still a snap-to-half-grid feature even when the y-axis goes up by 5.

Why does one “find the zeros” question have a drag-and-drop interface, while this one gives a list?