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What's wrong with this picture?

By John Published: September 7, 2010

This photo of Kayla Connelly, a fifth-grader at Erwine Middle School in Coventry is on our front page today, illustrating a story about how Erwine and Coventry Junior High have achieved positive results on the state math tests by doubling the time they spend on math each day.

But Kayla's answer to the question on the board behind her in the photo is wrong, as many emailers and callers have pointed out to me this morning. The question on the board states that "the ratio of sunny days to rainy days was 3 to 4. What percent of the days were sunny?" In the photo, she's written 75 percent on the board behind her. Correct answer is 42.9 percent.

So, I called Kayla's principal, Tina Norris, this morning to figure out what the heck is going on. Here's what she figured out:

The question on the board was scanned in from the textbook two years ago, which the teacher probably saved on her computer to project on the Smart Board rather than scanning in a whole new edition of the book. This year's text book -- the one the kids all have on their desks, the one they're using to follow along with the lesson -- states the problem differently. This year's question states that 3 out of 4 days in Cleveland were sunny, NOT a ratio of 3 sunny days to 4 rainy days. 

So, Kayla actually is answering this year's question, not the one from two years ago that appears on the board behind her in the photo. And her answer to this year's question, the one in this year's textbook,  is correct.

Furthermore, the steps to the solution on the board behind her, "Thinking it through," (which ask about fractions, percents, multiplying denominators and numerators and converting fractions to a percent) only make sense if the question is assuming 3 out of 4 days are sunny, not a ratio of 3 to 4.

No wonder the textbook publishers changed it.

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