As a part of my internship, we participate in some charitable activities, and yesterday’s was tutoring at a local after-school program. For the most part, it was an interesting, fun, and enlightening experience. But what appalled me was the worksheets that these rising second-graders were given to practice subtraction:

That’s right. Multiple choice.

And only having three actual choices led to the kind of gaming-the-system characteristic of multiple choice standardized tests. Take problem #4 for example: 37 minus 24. Do 7 minus 4 to get the ones column, get a 3. There’s only one answer that ends with a three, so that must be the right one. Problem done!

Of course, the problem itself is only half done, but because the goal is only to pick the right answer choice and not to actually learn subtraction… well, the end result is what people have been saying for a long time about multiple choice tests.

It’s just shocking to witness it first hand.