By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Are you smarter than an 8th grader? Test your math savvy against the Common Core test.
Illustration from PARRC test question. - photo by Eric Schulzke
One of the main common core testing groups has released actual test question samples from its 2015 tests for all grades and subjects, giving parents and the public a window into an ongoing controversy over how to hold teachers and schools accountable for student learning.

Common Core tests sparked boycotts and furor last spring. From Florida to New York to Colorado, teachers and parents argued that students and teachers were both being judged unfairly by the demanding new standards.

But last spring, more than 200,000 New Yorkers, 20 percent of the total, opted out of common core tests. New York was not using the PARCC test, using instead a different test produced by education publisher Pearson.

A year ago, Education Secretary Arne Duncan dismissed opposition to Common Core as complaints from white suburban moms who all of a sudden their child isnt as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isnt quite as good as they thought they were.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC exam, is produced by a consortium set up by a number of states. At its peak, PARCC claimed the loyalty of up to 26 states, but more states dropped out over the past summer, dropping the number below 10 and prompting some to predict the system's imminent demise.

The release of the questions here represents an effort by the PARCC group to rebut critics and reclaim relevance. It's also a chance for parents and the public to get a taste for the questions that raised all the ruckus.

For this quiz, we've taken two questions from the end of year math exam for 4th through 8th graders. Many of the questions are visual and involve multiple steps. Many questions are interactive, designed for computer use. Students drag and drop items, for example.

And for the upper grades, sections of the tests are graded by hand, obviously a labor intensive affair, and graders are trained to evaluate the work the student shows. In keeping with the Common Core emphasis on applied problem solving, this is not an old school No. 2 pencil test.

Here is a sample of a 6th grade question that requires the student to show work.

Megan spent $9.85 on ingredients and made one pan of cereal bars. The pan has a length of 24 inches and a width of 16 inches. Megan needs to cut the individual cereal bars from the pan. Each cereal bar should be the same size and shape, and should represent a reasonable serving.

Estimate an appropriate length and width for each cereal bar and explain your assumptions. Based on your estimate, determine the amount each cereal bar will cost Megan into make. Show your work or explain your reasoning.

Here is one sample student response for the cereal bar question:

"I assume that each bar could be 2 inches by 4 inches. This is a reasonable size for a cereal bar and is easy enough to hold and does not appear to be too large a serving size. The cereal bar can also be cut so that all cereal bars are the same size and shape since 24 inches and 16 inches can be evenly divided by 2 inches and 4 inches. For the 1 pan of bars cut so each bar is 2 inches by 4 inches, there would be 6 rows of bars (24 4) and 8 bars in each row (16 2). Altogether, that would make 48 bars for each pan. The amount spent on ingredients is $9.85, so the amount each cereal bar will cost Megan to make is $9.85 48, which is $0.205 or about $0.21."
Sign up for our e-newsletters