The story “The Pinapple and the Hare” by Daniel Pinkwater made the rounds the past week for being part of a perplexing section of the 8th Grade NY State ELA exam this year. NPR covered some points in Eyder Peralta’s article “The Pinapple and the Hare: Can You Answer Two Bizarre State Exam Questions?” The idea that state exam questions can be confusing is not a new concept: a postmodernist would have a field day deconstructing exams and finding reams of meaning-making banana peels (and headaches).

Instead I draw my focus to the amusing op-ed Pinkwater penned for the NY Daily News, “Pinapple Idiots! Who Knew My Book Would Be Used for the World’s Dumbest Test Question?” He comments on the use of his nonsense work, “On the test, the story makes even less sense, (less sense than nonsense? Yes! I wouldn’t have thought it was possible), and then . . . get ready . . . there are multiple choice questions the kids are supposed to answer.Well, if a thing is absolutely illogical and meaningless, it’s not possible to ask questions like, “Which animal in the story was the most wise? Choose (a), (b), (c), (d), etc.” And, “Why did the animals eat the pineapple?”

He clearly has reflected on the effects of his decision to “sell-out” to a testing company, “Now, there are repercussions to these tests. A kid might not be advanced to the next grade, a teacher might not get a new contract, a school could lose funding, get shut down. There are things riding on these tests, and the money is dirtier. I hadn’t given this any thought . . . until now.”

Now, when are we going to start throwing more weight into portfolio work? I had high hopes when in school that this was the direction we were going…