US Versus the World – One Reason We’re Falling Behind

Here are two sample math problems given to students in different countries:

Problem 1:

Mrs. C made some tarts for sale at her bakery. She sold 3/5 of them in the morning and 1/4 of the remainder in the afternoon.  If she sold 200 more tarts in the morning than in the afternoon, how many tarts did she make?

Problem 2:

There were 90 employees in a company last year. This year the number of employees increased by 10 percent. How many employees are in the company this year?

A) 9
B) 81
C) 91
D) 99
E) 100

Problem 1 is given to 5th grade students in Singapore.  Problem 2 is given to 8th grade students in the US, only 1/3 of whom were able to correctly answer the question.

Part of the reason our kids are failing to keep up with rest of the world is because we’ve accepted that only 1/3 of 8th graders will be able to correctly solve Problem 2, even when given  calculators.

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One Response to “US Versus the World – One Reason We’re Falling Behind”

  1. pwceducationreform Says:

    We’ve gotten a few requests for this, so here are the solutions to the problems presented above:

    PROBLEM 1:
    Tarts made = a
    AM Sales = 3/5 a
    Remainder = 2/5 a
    PM Sales = 1/4 * 2/5 a = 1/10 a
    AM Sales = PM Sales + 200
    Substituting variables for words give us the equation:
    3/5 a = 1/10 a + 200
    10/1 * (3/5 a) = 10/1 (1/10 a + 200)
    6a = a + 2000
    5a = 2000
    a = 400
    Tarts made = 400

    To check :
    AM Sales = 3/5 a = 3/5 * 400 = 240
    Remainder = 2/5 a = 2/5 * 400 = 160
    PM Sales = 1/10 a = 40
    AM Sales = PM Sales + 200
    240 = 40 + 200

    PROBLEM 2:
    10% of 90 is 9. Total employees is 90 + 9 = 99


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