UPDATED: Am I just stupid? Is this a trick question?

I was checking over Hailey’s math homework this morning and she’d left one blank because she said there wasn’t a good answer and I told her that there is always a good answer in 4th grade and then I looked at the question and my brain melted a little and she was like, “SEE?  4TH GRADE IS TRYING TO KILL ME.”

Am I just stupid?  Is there a clearer answer to this?

math homework


UPDATED:  First off, I apologize for making you do math word problems and I love that you stuck around and answered them so brilliantly.  Secondly, I asked Pearson (the company that wrote the question) what the answer is but I think they’re avoiding me.  Probably because they don’t know the answer either.  Hailey’s teacher, however, just answered my email asking what the answer is and she says:

” Rudy made $40 minus $3 bus fare, so profit is $37 for Sadie and he made all $45 for Chad with no expenses.”

I’m tempted to respond with “Who is Rudy?  And why do Sadie and Chad need so many piano teachers?” but then I realized that this poor woman is answering a ridiculous parent’s math questions at 10pm on a school night and now I just feel bad and want to send her flowers.  Or piano lessons.  Those seem popular all of a sudden.

261 thoughts on “UPDATED: Am I just stupid? Is this a trick question?

Read comments below or add one.

  1. I have a 4th grader too. The maths gives ME temper tantrums.

  2. That’s what’s wrong with the world today! No one is specific anymore.

    I blame autocorrect.

  3. Math used to have clear answers, it used to make sense. Everything else might’ve been crazy, but Math made sense if you knew the rules.

    This is not the Math I learned in school. I feel old.

  4. I hope you wrote that on the bottom of the paper about profits per lesson. That question is very poorly worded.

    My 8 year old had a problem like that once. It was something like “Explain why 8 plus 2 = 10” and she came to me asking why. So I wrote “Because it’s MATH, that’s why.” I don’t know why they have to make it so complicated.

  5. Well, I would hope that as long as you could explain both answers, that picking either (total profit or profit per) would be acceptable and that it’s more about the thought process. That there would be a discussion “Why would she choose to give lessons to Sadie for less total profit?”

    The fact that Hailey couldn’t pick an answer makes her very smart. 🙂

  6. She should write “Ruby makes a higher net profit with Chad, but higher profit per lesson with Sadie. She should tell Sadie she sucks at piano and needs weekly practice but keep Chad as a cash cow.”

  7. Am I crazy? It’s $37 profit for Sadie and $45 for Chad. Am I wrong? I’m getting wrinkles thinking about this.

    (It’s $18.50 profit per lesson with Sadie and $15 profit per lesson with Chad but that month she made $37 profit from Sadie and $45 profit from Chad so it’s more profitable to teach Sadie, but she made more profit with Chad in May because she taught him more lessons. But the question isn’t specific to May. And that’s why my brain hurts. ~ Jenny)

  8. She has more income from Chad, because she gave more lessons, but Sadie’s lessons are more profitable. Important for a business owner to know the difference – she should teach Sadie more often and Chad less!

  9. Brain, explosion.
    …says me, the mother with a master’s in elementary education who has chosen not to be a teacher ever ever ever again.

  10. Sorry. It’s not math stupid, it’s logic stupid. You can argue it either way, that she makes more profit per individual lesson from Sadie, but she makes more total profit from Chad solely because he needed more lessons. The new focus is on justifying and thinking through the answer, not just 2+2. Take a position and argue it.

  11. She has more income from Chad, because she gave more lessons, but Sadie’s lessons are more profitable. Important for a business owner to know the difference – she should teach Sadie more often and Chad less!

  12. I got $79…. don’t you need bus fare for BOTH directions to AND from a lesson??? Or is the $1.50 for a round trip?
    (220)-(1.504)=34 and then 315+34=79
    20)-(1.502)=37 and then 315+37=82

  13. The key word here is profit. There was more profit from Sadie’s individual piano lessons because 20.00 – 1.50 = 18.50 while chad only gave 15.00 per less. So two lessons at 18.50 is a total profit of 37.00 and three lessons at 15.00 is 45.00, in which case chad’s were more profitable from a cumulative stand point. If you give the teacher both and explain that it does not state total profit or individual profit, both answers are correct.

  14. Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems straightforward. It’s not asking for profit per lesson. It’s asking for profit, which implies total. So the answer is Chad, who she made $45 from, instead of Sadie, who she made $37 from.

  15. I had to re-read that whole thing several times just trying to understand, and I’m a math major!

  16. I’ve always hated math and this is a great example of why! Math is for learning numbers not teaching kids who is it more financially beneficial to teach/help.

  17. Ugh! Question 9 is terribly worded. Hailey’s answer is spot on since the question doesn’t say whether it means total profit or profit per lesson. I’d give her full marks for her reasoning and a bonus for the sassy comment at the bottom.

    Big unanswered question – where can you get a return bus fare for $1:50?

  18. How long does the bus journey take? What’s her hourly rate? We don’t have enough information to give a useful answer. Ruby’s record-keeping sucks. What would happen if she bought a bike? Things get complicated when maths (I’m English, it gets an “s”) try to join in with the real world.

  19. I would end up arguing that Ruby hasn’t stated what her time is worth, therefore you can’t calculate 8 correctly. And why is Chad getting a discount? Sadie is going to be pissed when she finds out!

  20. She takes more time giving Chad lessons (lower pay rate) but wastes time sitting on her butt on the bus, so the $20 should be minus the fare PLUS her wasted time. This is probably some trick to make 9 year olds think about how awful the work a day world will be if they continue to get an education.

  21. Chad, it’s Chad because Chad is a boy and that is a life lesson, we must fight to make it equal for Sadie to get lessons for the same price as Chad, why does Sadie pay more is the big question, math, my brain hurts

  22. I think it was when 5th grade hit, I jumped off the math homework wagon. Their dad helps them now. Too many freaking word problems these days.

  23. Maybe Chad’s lessons were shorter?

    There are so many factors that could be brought into this that it’s ridiculous. I THINK they want to hear that Chad was more profitable because she had the higher overall net income from him, but Sadie is more profitable per lesson. Although, if the rates differ because the sessions are different lengths, that should be taken into account. We also have to consider other confounders, like how long each bus ride to and from Sadie’s house was.

    I may be overthinking this.

  24. And THIS is why being a piano teacher is so frustrating. Ruby needs to set up a monthly fee that is paid at the beginning of each month- preferably electronically, no matter how many times the student calls the day of lessons and suddenly realizes that she has a choir concert tonight that has been on the school calendar since August. That way, Ruby can occasionally still get paid for sitting down and having a glass of wine in a quiet chair instead of having to actually work, and she can still pay her bills every month. THAT’S real life math.

  25. Sadly the problem is that teaching jobs pay crap, are hard, and teacher get no respect. For people to go in to teaching they either have to LOVE it or they can’t do the math for themselves to realize they’d be better off in a different career.

    I teach biology and I consider my “job” to be more like volunteer work. The only reason I can afford to do it is because I am married and my husband makes good money.

  26. This is what happens when they cut funding for art and music classes. They try to make up for it by making math all creative and shit. Math isn’t supposed to be creative! It’s fucking math. It’s numbers and you put them together and take them away and that’s it, you’re done.

    I have a 7th grader. I still haven’t recovered from some of the math I had to help her with back in 5th grade.

  27. I check math problems every day for my 5th grader. Honestly, I think the best answer I’ve ever seen is her last one- she’s a genius! “This is why people hate math homework.” She wrote neatly (fantastic penmanship) and used correct punctuation. She deserves extra credit and ice cream for dinner!

    (Actually I took a picture of the page and typed that answer in on my computer so I deserve ice cream for dinner. In real life Hailey wrote “I’m not the one who needs to explain more.” Then she thought she’d get in trouble so she changed it to “Chad, probably.” ~ Jenny)

  28. Oh this is solvable. Easy peasey. Why? Because Chad is my ex and he completely drained me emotionally with his neverending narcissistic rants; therefore, I profited more from “Ruby” (my new code name for “reward yourself from surviving THAT shit relationship with wine”).

  29. Why are they comparing profit for someone who’s only getting three lessons with someone getting two lessons? Isn’t that a little apple/oranges here?

    And what if Chad’s lessons are shorter & that’s why they’re cheaper? Shouldn’t there be a per hour cost here?

    4th grade math makes my head hurt…no wonder statistics made perfect sense!

  30. As someone who loved maths in school. I would say Chad. As the question uses the plural of “lessons”. However, your very smart daughter is right. By the time I hit highschool, math had changed a bit and I started answering it all. Both answers are correct. Lazy math questions and lazy teachers.

  31. Ruby makes $37 from Sadie and $45 from Chad. She makes more profit from Chad. Simple.

  32. You need to add in a cost of Ruby’s time. Let’s say Ruby’s time is worth minimum wage at $7.25/hr. And each lesson is 1 hour long. So she has an added expense of $14.50 for Sadie and $21.75 for Chad. Profit ends up being $22.50 for Sadie and $23.25 for Chad. Chad is more profitable.

  33. I was absent the day they passed out brain cells that understand math. I have to Google anything my kids need help on, and 6th grade math? Pssshh. Forget it. Totally lost.

  34. I agree with Ally. There’s more than one correct answer, the point is to choose one and explain it. It’s the explanation that’s being graded not which choice you select. It’s more like life 😉

  35. This question isn’t stupid or terrible and it’s bad to encourage thinking that it is. We face questions like this every day in life. If you can’t pick an answer, then you should explain why both are equally valid/invalid. For example, Sadie = more profit per lesson as shown by [show math], Chad = more profit total as shown by [show math].

    In math, the best habit for kids to get into is to ALWAYS show AND EXPLAIN your work. Math is the number one source of partial credit for grades. Unless a teacher is terrible, they will always take into account your logic. And then over time you can learn which answers are expected for bubble-in tests (“profit” = “total profit”, it becomes basically vocab recognition) which doesn’t matter so much because you’ll have the ability to explain and show your reasoning which is really the lesson that everyone needs to learn,

    It’s not terrible. It’s life. Stop making math the villain,

  36. I have a feeling that I’m going to be leaving a lot of snarky notes for teachers when we get to stupid questions like this.

  37. I’m still traumatized by my son’s grade 1 math homework (he’s in grade 7 now!):
    “Sara has 4 seashells and Tom has 6 seashells, the tide came in and washed them away. How many seashells do they have together?”
    My answer: None! The tide came in and washed them all away!
    Teacher’s answer: 4+6=10

  38. This is why I won’t go back to teaching. This is why my kids are failing Math in 7th grade. My kids can barely multiply because all their time is spent on figuring out this shit.Too much talky talk words. Let them figure out the math thing & move on. BTW, I agree with the comment up there about keeping Chad as a cash cow.

  39. The question asks whether she made more profit giving lessons (plural) to Sadie or Chad. So it’s the total amount gotten from the lessons per person, not the amount per lesson. The correct answer is Chad.

  40. Sadie. Her profit per lesson is $18.50. The fact that Chad had 3 lessons isn’t relevant to the question assuming that her lessons for each person will continue. It is information given just to make the problem more difficult
    In real life though we might factor in the time it takes to ride the bus and the fact that she has to deal with people on the bus and conclude that for reasons other than direct expenses her profit with Chad is greater because noone wants to have to ride the bus.

  41. I am so happy my children are older, and no longer have homework. My head would explode if they were trying to master today’s math lessons and asked me for help.

  42. How long were Sadie’s lessons and how long are Chad’s? Does that include transportation time on the bus or waiting for the bus? There is not enough information to decide which is more profitable. Which is the better student? How fast is each progressing? Does Ruby have a crush on one of her students? Does Ruby have a crush on the barista that works at the coffee shop she goes to after Sadie’s lessons? Is the barista working their way through medical school?They should be teaching that there is more in life to value than just profits. No wonder we have a world of disenfranchised youths and one percenters running (ruining) the world.

  43. My 4th grader writes a list of the annoying crap that goes down at school. Last week they made him start a creative writing assignment over because his story had more than one main character. He did. His new story contained only one ” Professer Snob “. God I love my kid.

  44. It also depends on how long the bus trip is. Profit should also take into account $ per hour and she has to spend time getting to and from.

  45. I’m stuck on wondering who the test writer is that s/he used two of my three daughters’ names. And who the hell is Chad?

  46. The answer is Ruby needs a new job if she only makes $82 a month.

  47. Once you figure that out, can you come to Detroit and figure out where all our tax money is going? For what we pay, I think we should have streetlights. Oh, and roads without pot holes. Oh, and for the police to come when the building is broken into. Oh, and for EMS to take less than 90 minutes to get to an accident. Just minor stuff.

  48. The answer is that Ruby needs a new job if she only makes $82 a month.

  49. I don’t like the way JUSTIFY is being all demandy, in bold red caps. Makes me feel defensive — “I don’t have to justify nothin’ to you, Mister Mathbook!” “Yes, I just did a double negative, Mrs. Grammarpants, and I’m not justifying that either.”
    I like both of Haley’s answers too:)

  50. Haven’t read all the responses, but I think the idea is that she had the option of justifying it either way. Or both ways like you did. Did you ask the teacher what the “correct” answer is? I think it teaches them logic and decision making or maybe even shows them that there can be more than one right answer per question. That’s why it says “justify” and not just “who did she make more money off of”

  51. As a teacher, this is a terrific question! Both answers are correct but require justification and thus higher thinking skills. This is what teachers are supposed to do – promote critical thinking. Hailey has a good teacher for stretching her and a good mom for checking homework and making light of it when it gets frustrating.

  52. I’d say, to hell with teaching… Much to complicated. Start a band and make millions!

  53. But this could be a valuable skill if Hailey ever becomes a piano teacher with a sliding fee scale and no access to QuickBooks.

  54. The real question is why does Sadie have to pay $20 per lesson while Chad only pays $15.

  55. This is a classic business problem that people have issues with. Do you sell your product at a high price but rarely sell any units or do you drop the price (reduce your profit margin) but sell 10 times the number of units. Overall, it’s more profitable to do the second.

  56. My youngest is in college now, majoring in both Economics and Statistics. I haven’t had a clue what he’s been talking about for years. Also, LOVE the cash cow comment!

  57. I’m stuck on the fact that no answer in the first question is the right answer. She made 38.50 profit with Sadie. $45 with Chad. That is 83.50 total.

  58. This is why I’m happy I homeschool. When the math book doesn’t make sense we get a new math book.

  59. It can definitely be read either way. The participle “giving” denotes continuous aspect, implying that the profit per lesson should be the metric, but the fact that the data given are limited to May implies that the unit is the month of May rather than the lesson.

    For economic purposes I think it’s reasonable to place an opportunity cost of zero on Ruby’s time since she’s unlikely to be turning down other work. Usually you don’t count your own time as a cost, you measure the economic profit of your activity against the “life opportunity cost” to decide if it’s worth it. That value isn’t a fixed amount but might depend on how much you hate the bus or whether Sadie is a little hellion.

    And that’ sway English, math, and economics are all important.

  60. My brain does somersaults just thinking about math problems. Its embarrassing. They look like they should be easy, especially when its for fourth graders. Yet I can’t wrap my head around it.. Oh well. I’ll stick to writing.

  61. You got the right answers!! (right??)

    by the time my kids were in middle school, they would hand me their math homework (with a smirk) to look over. “yes, this looks good! It’s neat, you stayed on the lines, no scribbles or scratch outs, no bad erasing marks. Excellent!” We all knew I had no idea if their work was correct……

  62. This is why i love algebra. No stupid wordy words that get in the way of the math. Bleh.

  63. This is why my husband does the math & I make things look pretty. (NOT saying that all women need to look to their men for math, but I do!) He gets frustrated with me when I can’t math, and I get frustrated with him when he can’t see the complete room renovation that I have in my head.
    Bottom line? MATH SUCKS!

  64. PS: Please give us an update on this. I’d love to know what the “right” answer is.

  65. See, I like this question, because real life math doesn’t always have clear-cut answers. This may help them understand that.

  66. I don’t understand why this seems to be so confusing. The answer to the question ASKED is, “She made more profit giving lessons to Chad, because she made more total money teaching Chad, with LESS or NO expenses.” I would never have mentioned anything about ‘per lesson’ because the question didn’t ask that.

    You’ve got to remember that adults think in a LOT more specificity than kids do. So, when you’re doing 4th grade math word problems, Occam’s Razor applies. The simplest explanation is the correct one.

  67. Midleyfemama, she made $37 profit from Sadie. You forget to subtract bus fare for the second lesson.

  68. Geesh, I’m an accountant and that’s more like an Accounting 101 question.

  69. I frankly think that the responses about the horror of this question is an unfortunate byproduct of our either-or, black or white, republican or democrat mentality nowadays. No one is able to think elastically or creatively, you have to have THE right answer and THIS answer is the right one. Yes in mathematics, there are certain absolutes, but this kind of logic argument will help her later in life, hopefully when she can recognize that there are other valid opinions out there, besides her own.

  70. I’m just all ‘WHAT Chad gets cheaper lessons?? “Pink Tax” is being normalised to our kids!’ 😉

  71. There’s not enough information for there to be a good answer. Was Sadie a better student, which would justify the expenses? Is Chad’s family poorer, which would explain why they pay $5 less per session? And why did these kids have so few lessons for the entire month of May?

    Okay, that last question may be irrelevant, but I still think the person who wrote the question is holding something back and preparing to spring it on the unsuspecting student.

  72. You just gave me flashbacks to my own kids in school and the horrors I dealt with over the math homework and now I need vodka at 6:30am. Thanks.

  73. Most tutors have a pro-rated scale. If you take 3 lessons, there’s a discount over 2 lessons. My personal trainer does the same thing. He charges more for 2 a week than 3 a week per individual lesson.

  74. I love the comments from Kay in KC #66 and Julie #71. You made me snort, ladies! My 7th grade daughter tells me about her maths work and I just nod and murmur appropriately. The only time I’ve been able to help her recently is when she struggled to understand a badly worded problem. Otherwise I’m all “Looks lovely! Have you shown your working out? Great!” Lol.

    I’ve always been better with their creative writing and art projects, and my husband is the maths genius. As I look at it, I’m not a maths dunce, I just play to my strengths!

  75. They are talking about profit not value. There is more profit from Chad regardless of how or why. They did not say profit from a single lesson which would be more about value and therefore require some of the information everyone in the responses is clamoring for.

  76. While we think the profit is $82 because we subtract that expense, that expense is not tax deductible, so according to the IRS, her profit is $85. Now if you think according to the IRS, that totally changes the second answer too.

    Now if she has two jobs and travels between both jobs before going home, that travel expense between the jobs can be deducted on her schedule A subject to the 2% limit.

  77. This is a perfect example of why, as a CPA, I only accept non-profit organizations as clients.

  78. Christopher – The easy answer is because, like dry cleaning and haircuts, piano lessons are cheaper for males.

  79. Christopher: The easy answer is that, like dry cleaning and haircuts, piano lessons are less expensive for males.

  80. I can’t find my comment because WordPress, but in case it disappeared, I was just simply stating the bus fare is not an IRS qualified expense, so according to the IRS, her profit is $85. The IRS should probably audit whoever wrote that question.

  81. Wait so we womens make less money than men for working, and now we have to pay more for piano lessons too??? W.T.F.

  82. This is how their math works: You aren’t supposed to read into a question, therefore, the simple answer to the question is Chad. Don’t answer what they don’t ask. If the question asks you to figure out future profits then you would take into account the expenses and frequency of lessons.

  83. The answer says “Justify”. Pick an interpretation. Lessons per dollar or total per child and /justify/ your answer. If there was a correct answer they would have said “Find” the child that made ruby more profit. Just have her explain the difference fully in her answer so that the teacher knows she understands. That is the trick to the question.

  84. Who the hell takes piano lessons anymore anyway, there is probably a free app for that!

  85. This is a classic example of the full description being considered too complicated so it is simplifed to the point of just being incomprehensible.

  86. Assuming the lessons were an hour long, and that is a big assumption. And with minimum wage at $7.25 an hour, which is a gross underpayment for a piano teacher anyway, then that drops the “profit” in each of Sadie’s lessons to $11.25, and with Chad $7.75, so 2 lessons with Sadie net $22.50 in “profit” and with Chad, $23.25, but Ruby has had to work an hour longer for a next profit gain of $0.75, so I’d still say that Sadie is the more profitable client. Although I don’t have the data for travel time for both clients, and that could change everything.

  87. Gosh I wish I could “like” some of these comments. You guys are awesome!

  88. I think Chad’s lessons are cheaper because he, apparently, comes to Ruby for the lessons, whereas she is giving Sadie in-home lessons. Ruby is charging Sadie extra, on top of the cost of bus fare, for her travel time.

  89. Seriously, 4th grade homework is too hard for me to help with anymore. My 2 college students? I could do the math when they were in 4th grade. I know we are dealing with common core and it makes what should make sense not make sense. We fight this every night. So grateful it is almost summer and no more math!

  90. As a math curriculum writer, the writers here are either not very clever or very clever. If they are not very clever, they wrote a confusing question. If they are very clever, they are writing a question prompting for critical thinking that does not have one right answer. The teacher would be looking not only for correct computation, but also for the student’s thinking about the problem and its implications. This is an example of training to think about a business plan; it’s a real-life situation and could be very useful for the student.

    What’s boggling to us adults is that we were never expected to reach this level of thinking at this age. That has dumbed down our generations. Hopefully the next generations will be more capable as a result of this and other such movements.

  91. I don’t know the answer because ever since I finished school, if my brain sees number, it runs screaming. I usually find it curled up in a corner, crying, and quietly saying “you promised never again” over and over.

  92. Is everyone missing that the bus fare is BOTH WAYS? Therefore $82 is correct?

  93. Sorry… not both ways… each lesson. Must be 75 cents each way-
    more math!

  94. This is why I hate word problems. They’re never clear enough for me on what they’re asking. It’s also part of the reason why physics was my hardest science class in high school. I understood the formulas no sweat, but then there would be this wordy problem and I’d have to figure out data and just yuck.

  95. so I thought I understood. but I’m a librarian and have no children, lol.

    so Sadie is two lesson for $20, minus two sets of $1.50 bus fare: (2 * 20) – (2* 1 .50) = $37
    meanwhile, Chad is three lessons for only $15, but no extra fees: (3 * 15) – (0) = $45

    no, initially, it looks like Chad is more profitable, because the number is bigger. however, what is the kid (wtf was her name? lol) teaching PER SESSION?
    with Sadie, two classes yielded $37: (37 / 2) = 18.5; so $18.50 per session
    and Chad, three classes yielded $45: (45 / 3) = 15.0; so $15.00 per session

    therefore, Chad is the better deal. ditch that bitch Sadie unless she’s going to include bus fare too, lol.

    but seriously, this is the same concept as do I buy a larger quantity of tomatoes at $3 or a smaller at $1.50 — which is the better PRICE PER OZ, if you will.

  96. Am I wrong in thinking the tense is incorrect in the worded expense part? If she GAVE two lessons then she GOT $XX. If she was writing out her projected plan for May she could say that she was going to GIVE two lessons and then would GET $XX. She would also have SPENT $XX on bus fare if she was talking about the past, or was planning to SPEND $XX if she was planning ahead.

    Anyone? Am I out to lunch on this??

  97. just discovered (watching Veep yesterday) that “math dyslexia” or discalculia is a thing. im diagnosing myself after all these years.


    I stopped “trying” to assist with my boy’s Math homework in Second Grade. My excuse…”I went to Louisiana public school in the 70’s. I got nothing for you….move along.” I tell them to stay for tutoring after school and if that does not work…answer C. AND if that still isn’t enough…then write a paragraph on they want to grow up to be a Ninja and math is not used in that profession unless you are counting the number of bodies you have “Ninja-ed”.

    At that point, they stopped asking me. Ah….quiet and wine.
    The Queen

  99. We need more data.
    Is each lesson the same number of minutes long?
    Why does she charge 2 different rates for 2 different students?
    If her lessons with Sadie are $20/hr but she gets $15/30 min from Chad, she’s losing money on Sadie.
    Does Sadie skip or cancel lessons frequently? Is that why she only had 2 lessons?
    How bad do the children smell? Maybe the money isn’t worth it.

  100. I don’t know why people think this second question is ambiguous. The second question isn’t “Which student’s lessons are more profitable in the long run for Ruby?” It’s asking which set of lessons gave Ruby the most profit. She “made more profit” from Chad.

    To use a simpler example where I don’t have any up-front costs like bus fare: let’s say that I’m selling used CDs and DVDs at a flea market, and I’m charging $2 for CDs and $5 for DVDs.. Now let’s say I end up selling ten CDs (making $20) but only two DVDs (making $10), The bottom line is that I “made more profit” that day from selling CDs than I did from selling DVDs. The fact that I make more money per DVD sale (because each DVD goes for $5 instead of just $2), is irrelevant. The fact that selling ten DVDs would have brought more money than selling ten CDs is irrelevant too, because I didn’t sell ten DVDs; I only sold two. Out of the $30 I made at the flea market, $20 was from CD sales and $10 was from DVD sales, therefore I got more profit from CDs.

    (Yes, but what if all that is the same but instead of selling them at the same time you sold ten CD’s (making $20) at a CD-Only flea market that you worked at for a week, and then on the way to your car one night you sold two DVD’s (making $10)? You made more profit on the CD’s but no one would say that the DVD’s weren’t a more profitable commodity when you consider the factors. It’s the outlying factors that make it less of a word problem and more of a “Shark Den” problem. ~ Jenny)

  101. I think they’re going with the simplest form of it. She made $37 from Sadie’s 2 lessons and $45 from Chad’s 3.
    Although, why is she charging Sadie more in the first place?

  102. Search Google Images: “The Far Side, Math Phobics Nightmare”
    So much truth to that cartoon!

  103. i truly believe you are right! This is my thought process as well:
    Sadie 2×20=40 – 1.50×2=3 so 40-3=37
    Chad 3×15=45
    45-37=82 (a)
    So per lesson it would be Sadie, but overall it would be Chad which is what I think they are looking for. Or they just want to break them early to prepare them and either answer is correct.

  104. Th answer cannot be calculated. If we assume that each lesson is the same length, we would need to know the duration of the bus trips to calculate her hourly rate 🙂

  105. I think the key word here is justify. Probably either answer is right as long as they justify their answer in a thoughtful way. But this question is super confusing and unclear. :/ How are they supposed to learn from that.

  106. Seemed perfectly clear to me until I started reading the comments. lol. I think people need to stop trying to complicate things. Occam’s Razor and all that.

  107. Oh it took me a while to see where the confusion was. I automatically assumed they meant total profit, otherwise, why would they give you the number of lessons? If they just wanted profit per, the number of lessons would have been irrelevant and would not have been included.


  108. I love that your 4th grade daughter knew that there was no one right answer. I would have jumped (correction, I did jump) to answer in terms of the overall profit. Your kid’s going to be just fine, whatever hoops she has to jump through along the way! (I can’t help my 3rd grade granddaughter with her math. Tried once. Turns out I can get the right answer, but apparently I don’t utilize the officially sanctioned CrazyCore method to get there.)

  109. Also, dear lord, people…some of these comments cause bigger headaches than the actual problem!

  110. My son, in 5th grade, got this one evening, in his math workbook: “I am a number less than 3,000. When you divide me by 32, my remainder is 30. When you divide me by 58, my remainder is 44. What number am I?”

    My husband posted the question to his facebook wall, and several of our math-savvy friends (including an honest-to-cheese rocket scientist who worked at JPL) were left scratching their heads. The rocket scientist said:
    The problem is that it’s two equations with three unknowns:

    which cannot be solved explicitly. About the only solution that I could come up with is “plug and chug.”
    And, as I suspected, it doesn’t have one solution that’s less than 3000, it has two: 798 and 1726.
    Why they would give such a problem to a 5th grader is beyond me.

    …We emailed the teacher with the entire FB discussion, and the teacher agreed that it was exquisitely stupid to have that problem in the 5th grade math book. Apparently, the teacher got an avalanche of emails about that problem (the last one on the page, at least, so everything else had been done). Indeed, everyone can’t understand why that problem was in the 5th grade math book.

  111. Lol ! I love that there are 121 comments on a fourth grader’s Math problem.

    But I’m tempted so yes..122.
    I guess what Econ tells me is that profit is maximised by increasing revenue and reducing cost. And the question asks to justify and not calculate, so I’m going to go all intuitive on my ass… and say Team Chad. Because there aren’t any costs involved, so Ruby dear gets to pocket the entire revenue as profit. Go Chad! 😛

  112. I could have sworn we were ensured this would be a math-free blog. Wine, yes. Stuffed dead animals, of course. Cats, obviously. Bantering with Victor, essential. Math? No. I’m not trying to be a mathhole – I like math fine…in its place. It’s like my guarantee that every trivia round I run for our local pub quiz has no Justin Bieber questions. Because (a) nobody wants that and (b) it’s the right and humane thing to do.

  113. I don’t see anything wrong with the question. It makes you think about both sides of the situation. While yes, math has clear cut answers, in real life, we have to make many decisions like this. Do I take the job with the potential to work more hours, even though it pays less per hour? Whether this is age-appropriate for 4th grade, I have no idea, but I think the question itself is fine. It’s funny to me that most of us pretty much hated math in school, but now that they’re teaching it differently, we all get up in arms that it’s being taught differently.

  114. Bus fare BOTH WAYS would be $6 total. $37 for Sadie and $45 for Chad. Dump Sadie, keep Chad. Who wants to ride the bus anyway?

  115. I didn’t read all the comments so if this was already addressed I’m sorry for the duplication. Anyway, I want to know why the girl is being charged more than the boy! It’s like clothes! Women get charged more for items and they’ll get cheesier material!

  116. Are we talking money or personal satisfaction because if one student does better than the other she profited in her soul. They need to spell these things out better.

  117. I live out of the country and we use a British National Curriculum. When my youngest was in Grade 4, we had a computer site assignment that had a bunch of questions. One was 3297 children are going on a white water rafting trip. One raft holds 17 kids and 2teachers …how many rafts do you need. Now the math wasn’t hard to figure out but all of the questions were like that. I printed it out and said you don’t need any rafts because no teacher in her right mind would go on a white water rafting trip with 3297 children. Or it’s a trick question because with that many kids you actually will only be putting 16 kids in so you have space for the cooler of wine you will need! I hate math!

  118. At least it was a useful situation unlike the stupid train leaving one station at one time and what time do they meet. Hint: The only reason anyone cares if they meet is at a station because you can switch trains. Anything else is completely pointless.

  119. I agree with the posts that focus on the real issue here — why is Sadie paying more than Chad, especially when Sadie probably earns only 73 cents to each of Chad’s dollars?

  120. Is this now a 4th grade math problem because we have so many 18 year old millionaire computer geniuses? Do 5th graders learn how to write buisness proposals for the banks?
    And Ruby should seriously make Sadie come to her house for the lesson. And Chad is probably her irratating sister’s kid and therefore she has to charge less, but Ruby still hates her sister for telling on her that one time in high school when she got in just 15 damn minutes late that she she recoups the cheaper rate by making the kid do more lesson so BAM! sister, who’s smarter now???

  121. 15 x 3 = $45.00 with no deductions
    2 x 20 = $40.00 (already lower by $5.00) then deduct the $3.00 expenses and she’s only got $37.00.

  122. $82 – net profit
    $85 – gross profit
    $88 – not possible
    $90 – not possible

    Justify- answer printed seems correct.

  123. on the upside, there’s a guy who wrote himself a check for 368 billion DOLLARS to open an 80 million sq foot italian restaurant that would serve 30 million ‘eaters’ who also dodge SHARKS – it’s an underwater restaurant but he wasn’t specific if everyone would be swimming/eating together – and he clearly isn’t concerned with math. 😉

  124. as a teacher I can say it is a poorly written question and I don’t like teachers that throw in tricky questions like that especially to a grade four class. Just saying!

  125. Assuming Sadie is female and Chad is male, what I want to know is why she charges Sadie more than Chad. That’s the real question!

  126. The answer is that if Ruby can’t figure out her own profits, she shouldn’t be in business.

  127. The Goal of this question seems to be to get the students to ask questions about what those numbers really mean and to play with the numbers in several different ways. Those are analytical problem solving skills. My problem is that I’m really not sure that 10 year olds are developmentally ready for this kind of approach. They’re definitely not used to this, but that’s another issue completely.

  128. Actually, the first two lines you have there ARE the right answer — that’s why it is an “Explain” question, to not only come up with a numerical answer but to understand and be able to defend your logic.

  129. You can’t find a true answer until you know how far it was to travel to the first lessons. That’s a badly worded question.

  130. Assuming no future lessons will be given, Chad was the more profitable client. However, if more lessons will be given in the future, she should dump Chad and teach Sadie.

    Having said that, WHY IN HELL ARE WE TEACHING 4TH GRADERS ECONOMICS? Teach them to think critically in solving math problems, rather than turn them into future capitalists!

  131. I think Sadie is charged more because the peon giving the lessons has to ride the bus, which is a greater time and schedule commitment. Chad has no bus cost, so he probably lives next door, so less time and effort is involved, so less is charged. Then the pay difference is reasonable, and not gender based.

    In other news, after reading Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking, whenever I type or read certain words, I hear them in Neil Gaimen’s voice. SHED-ule.

  132. Also that should have said ‘person’ giving the lessons, but it is pretty apt my phone changed it to peon.

  133. Oh, jeez, this is why I had panic attacks in elementary school. My teachers hated me because I could never give just the one answer they were looking for! Independent thinking was not allowed.

    My answer: my head hurts from thinking about this. Also, what is the justification for charging different amounts? Different levels of lessons? Proximity to her home? I’m going to go back to making things with my hands, rendering my college degree useless 🙂

  134. Ruby is going to need to teach many more lessons to be able to pay the bills.

  135. Her answer is correct. Chad = more total, but Sadie = more per lesson. The question only wants to know who gave her the greater total profit, which is Chad, but adding the bit about Sadie’s per lesson charge being greater is a nice touch.
    $40-$3 = $37 total Sadie
    $45 – $0 = $45 total Chad
    But then again I do daily math for a living. :p

  136. For anyone who thinks that math is supposed to be, or has always been “straightforward,” try reading into some abstract/modern algebra, or real and complex analysis. Warning: your brain might explode if 4th grade math gives you headaches, LOL.

  137. She made more profit from the first one because you have to think of it per lesson. If she only did one lesson for both she would have made $18.50 for the first one and only $15 for the second one.

  138. The second part is less a math exercise and more of a critical thinking exercise. No wrong answer, just choose a position and defend it. Personally, I’d pick Sadie because if you can convince her she needs twice as many lessons as Chad, you can spend all your time teaching Sadie and fire Chad’s broke ass. When you’re building a dynasty you don’t have time for the bargain bin.

  139. They don’t list the cost of ear plugs or Valium, both of which I’d need if I had to listen to these kids try to play the piano.

  140. I remember child actors completing homework backstage, and when I looked at what they had to figure out, I thought, “Glad that’s over.” When my sister was a teacher, however, I used to grade her papers and loved the answers the kids would come up with. Some of them are very creative and I love it! Too bad school can take the creativity out of you . . .

  141. As a math teacher my opinion is that it’s a poorly thought out question. If they wanted the straightforward answer, they shouldn’t have set up a scenario where the question makes no sense. Have her sell Chad three special brownies at $ 15 instead and that problem goes away.*
    And if the intent was to make the kids thinkthink, ask which didn’t she should keep teaching if she only has time for one.

    *it might of course introduce the new problem of «that’s not how much special brownies cost and what were her expenses for baking supplies and pot», but maybe she stole those

  142. Fucking Common Core. You’re not stupid, the new curriculum is. I have kids in 6th, 5th & 2nd grade & am getting gray hairs from trying to help them. When we come across bullshit like this we leave it blank &put a note on it for the teacher as to why it’s blank.

  143. Is it common core? Because that shit is actually designed to be confusing. To get kids to “think out side of the box”, as opposed to thinking like educated human being who accomplish things.

  144. Well, the question literally says “did she make more profit teaching Sadie or Chad?”. It’s not asking who’s more profitable, it’s asking who she made more profit with. And she made more profit teaching Chad.

  145. I’m a math teacher and I think it’s a poorly worded question. If they wanted the straightforward answer they shouldn’t have includes information that makes that answer uninteresting. Make her services for Chad something else, like making special brownies, because Chad can’t bake (pun deleted).

    And if they wanted a discussion on total or per lesson profitability ask a different question like «she can only teach one kid next month, which one should she keep on?»

    I honestly think the straightforward answer is correct, and that the author didn’t think it through, since that would have cut into the publishing house’s profits.

  146. I can’t get past naming a kid “Chad”. Was he a hanging chad? Is that why Ruby charged more?

  147. Q: If you have 4 pencils and I have 10 ice cubes, how many pancakes will fit on the roof?
    A: Purple, because aliens don’t wear hats.

  148. Someone obviously confused math with meth because if you have a meth problem, there’s not a single answer for it.

  149. When her teacher gives her the question about the two trains, have Hailey contact me. I can make her teachers head explode with the correct answer…which is and always will be “not enough information” and yes I can explain how that is the correct answer.

  150. As a teacher, I’d accept pretty much any answer, as long as the justification stands up. I’ve even got an outcome code from the syllabus I can say the kids have achieved if they can consistently do it. To be honest, I’d probably give bonus points for the questions people are asking about different rates etc – you’re all acknowledging that we don’t really have enough information to make a proper judgement, and therefore exhibiting good mathematical thinking (that being said, my guess is Ruby charges a set amount per block of time, and Sadie has a shorter lesson than Chad. The question is still shitty, though).

  151. So, maybe I’m trying too hard to make sense of a bad math question but…perhaps it was worded ambiguously intentionally. Either answer would have been correct as long as you can explain why. I think what they were looking for was you having the ability to justify which answer you picked. From my experience, this is a skill that is difficult for students to develop.

  152. Chad is obviously the better choice. It has to be extremely difficult to carry a piano on and off of the bus each lesson. Those profit margins from Sadie are not worth the cost of the extra seat or the long term chiropractic costs.

  153. I think it would probably be Sadie that nets the most profit?

    I think the question means profit per lesson, so you’re supposed to just… minus the expenses from Sadie’s lessons, so you’re left with $18.50 vs $15. (maybe) (plus, like, time = money, right? >.>)

    I dunno. I don’t really math.

    What I want to know is why she’s not just charging a flat fee for all pupils per hour. What’s going on there? Does he get a discount for buying 3 lessons or something? Is she trying to make Sadie pay part of her bus fare…?

  154. Try teaching it. I teach fourth grade and moved to Science only, because of that type of problem exactly.

  155. Ruby may also have to consider fringe benefits. For example what if Ruby has the “hots” for Chad, now that would certainly tip the cost/benefit analysis away from Sadie.

  156. Did the teacher and/or assignment instructions tell you that there’s only One Correct Answer and you’d better get that specific answer or else? Or is that just an assumption on your part? The “justify” instruction indicates to me that it’s the thought process that’s being assessed here, more than the answer the student comes up with.

    I agree with Amy (#184) – this question is intended to stimulate exactly the sort of critical thought you’re engaging in. With a good teacher, this will lead to a discussion of multiple interpretations of the problem, the importance of clearly defining your terms, and so on. (“Hey look, you’re coming up with different answers – that’s interesting! Let’s talk about that! How could/should the question have been worded to make its intent clearer?”) Sounds great to me.

    (Note: if you’re 100% certain that this question will simply be graded on a binary right/wrong scale, with no discussion whatsoever with classmates, then I retract all of this and agree with you. But you should make sure about that – give the teacher the benefit of the doubt, if you can)

  157. This is part of why we homeschool. This way, no bizarre faceless entity can come into my home and make inexplicable demands of my children. My children just have to put up with MY inexplicable demands, which are, of course, entirely reasonable. Plus I have a face.

  158. Oh my god. Evil. This is going to keep me up at night. It will also keep my boyfriend up because I’ll be ranting about it while laying in bed.

  159. So, I don’t think this is necessarily a bad question IF the students have been prompted to think about things from multiple angles as part of their curriculum so far, and IF the teacher is grading not by which option they list but instead by how they explain their answer.

    However, if this is just intended to be a straightforward, one-right-answer question, it should be worded more clearly to differentiate between profit per lesson and profit over the course of the month of May.

  160. I think the answer is Chad, because the question asks how much she DID make, not how much she DOES make. “Does” would have implied to me that it was asking on an ongoing, per-visit basis, but I interpret “did” to mean “did she make in the month of May.”

    But I suppose it all comes down to what your definition of “is” is.

  161. You are not stupid. It is not a trick question. Math and i get along as much as snarly honey badgers get along with everyone else because 7×8 and 6×9 won’t kiss my ass. The problem is, as some have already said, the editor. AND A PROFOUND LACK OF DEFINITION!!!! I can do the logic….
    Income is the money you collect. Income is not profit.
    Profit is what is left after you subtract expenses.
    So Sadie generates more INCOME but not more profit.
    Chad generates more PROFIT at less income because there are no expenses.

    Ruby needs to up her business game but be grateful her bus fare is only 1.50 round trip.
    We as grown ups are trying to make it a big picture answer fitting college business math. They are only asking for the greater than less than in dollars. No one at all is mentioning the dollars to time part (which we adults are already trying to get to in this answer) in this exercise.

    You are not stupid. In this case the text book is stupid because it is implying that the person who takes the most amount of effort is worth the most amount of money. Which we all know is bald faced lie. 4th grade isn’t trying to kill the kid. The authors and editors of the text books are capitalizing on the less is good enough approach to getting their paycheck.

  162. Eh. It’s their way of adding critical thinking. If the teacher is doing things correctly, then she just have to give an answer and a reasonable explanation as to why she feels it’s correct. Saying “Chad because she had no expenses and so she made more money in a month” should make as much sense as “Sadie, because even with bus fare it’s a higher profit per session” and therefore, the teacher would grade each as correct. However, if she answered “Sadie” with no explanation or “Chad, because he’s like totally dreamy”, the answer would be incorrect. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to all work.

  163. I think you’re over-thinking it. It doesn’t say “more profit per lesson”, only “more profit”. So, the answer would be total, not per lesson. If they wanted per lesson, it would say so.

  164. Try being the teacher! (like me.)
    Sometimes I even think “oh hell…. Next problem.” and I have the answers!!!

  165. I teach 5th grade math. The answer is A. Because $37 + $45 is $82. She made more profit with Chad. With Sadie she made $37. With Chad she made $45. She did better with Chad because she ended up with $8 more. (This is how I would expect my students to explain the problem to me.)
    PS I LOVE math. My favorite thing to teach.

  166. Clearly Ruby wants to get with Chad, which is why she gives him a discount and also because he is a boy and not as quick to pick up on things as Sadie is.

  167. Karen Simpson, as a Math Major, I’d say you are wrong because you are not comparing things equivalently. She worked with Chad three times to Sadie’s two. Technically, she made $37 for Sadie’s two and $30 for Chad’s two, so she makes more profit each time she teaches Sadie. This problem is VERY unclear because it doesn’t specify what is meant by Profit (overall or each time), it has multiple answers depending on the definition and what you are going to do with the profit (if you can only work with one of these due to a conflict, from a business view, drop Chad. From your answer, you’d make the wrong decision). Basically, this is a horrid math problem that is poorly written.

  168. I’m weird. I love math and love arguing badly written word problems. I think I was a lawyer in a past life. Anyway, where I diverge is needing to consider all expenses to calculate the profit. Why the different costs? What about professional services? Considering the cost of doing business? Income taxes? License fees? Insurance? Bonding? Does Rudy charge time and materials, so she makes the price of the lesson, plus the student pays for transportation surcharge. There’s the lost opportunity due to the implied longer commute via bus. About the only smart move is charging Sadie more if that is inclusive of the bus costs.

    I’m not even going to start on the issue of the tenses being out of sync. Gave lessons, spend on bus… Spent would be correct….

  169. I think it just expects you to make the leap that since Chad requires more lessons than Sadie and there are no expenses for Chad’s lessons that she makes more profit teaching Chad. LOL They don’t make it easy do they….?

  170. I get the critical thinking bit, especially if the goal is to get someone to realize that the question had different interpretations. That seems a little beyond 4th grade, but I know they’ve ramped curriculum in the last decade.

    If you want inanity, I went through KERA in high school in the ’90s. EVERY class required a paper. I had a drafting class. We drew, by hand, accurate views of bolts and metal plating, and they wanted some kind of portfolio quality essay about that.

    I wrote a story about giant mosquitos eating a man, because screw that noise.

  171. Why not send her a wine slushie? I bet she could really use it after dealing with these textbook issues.

    No, wait. Maybe sending alcohol to your child’s Teacher is inappropriate. And probably illegal. So, instead maybe just send her some cookies? Then she can eat her feelings instead of drinking them. A lot safer and no DWI.


  172. Answer depends on the teacher. She could be an idiot who can only see the question one way, or she could be cussing Pearson because it only allow her to accept one answer when she knows it’s flaky, or she might accept either answer if they are properly justified. Her answer sounds like she’s in one of the first two categories, though she didn’t categorically demand that Chad was correct, so it seemed a little wishy-washy there.

  173. Does anyone else have an issue with the definition of profit here? She spent good time giving these damn lessons, yet her labor is counted as zero? In a male teacher version, the expenses would include bus fare AND the piano teacher’s wages. Sure, the piano teacher takes home both the wages and the profits, but it is not all profit. Unless she has been convinced by society that her time is not important.

  174. I just watched this episode of Last Week tonight, simultaneously reading this blog entry – if you watch from 11:00 minutes it has some VERY interesting things to say about Pearson… the whole episode is interesting though 🙂

    Love your blog <3

    Georgia xx

  175. Hi!
    Just watched this episode of Last Week Tonight literally whilst reading your blog. It has some VERY interesting things to say about Pearson. Watch from 11 minutes if you don’t have time for the whole 15 🙂

    Love your blog!


  176. You’re not alone in this. My youngest comes home with ridiculous math problems too. It will often take me a few seconds to figure out what they mean. And when I say a few seconds, that’s not a good thing. I’m a math geek. In school, I would come up with hard math problems too do for fun. But the math my second grader has to do is so convoluted it’s insane. Like adding buy drawing boxes and then counting them up instead of actually knowing that 8+6 is 14. And as far as Pearson goes, don’t get me started. I could give you a dozen links on my blog or my wife’s blog where we go on long rants about Pearson. In our house, Jar-Jar Binks is a more welcome name than Pearson!!!

  177. you might want to watch last week tonight with John Oliver https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=J6lyURyVz7k they did a whole piece on standardized tests and talked about Pearson specifically. Basically that question needs to be clarified and it wouldn’t take much of a wording change to do it because they way stated, so long as you show your work, both should be correct. In this case we now know they were looking for cumulative profit, not individual lesson profit.

  178. Pearson. That explains a whole lot. Watch the video everyone is linking to.

  179. I would definitely have answered ‘You can’t justify that, clearly Ruby is extorting money from Sadie, which is kind of a shitty thing to do to someone who just wants to express themselves through the beautiful medium of Piano music. Ruby is a bitch’

    Then I imagine I would’ve gotten a detention. That happened to me a lot at school.

  180. why the fuck is Sadie paying 20 bucks per lesson and Chad only pays 15 bucks!? I think I would have raged more over that.

  181. So many things wrong with that problem. And Ruby didn’t “give” the lessons –she taught them. And she should be charging at least $25 for EVERY lesson because of her knowledge and expertise since she has a Masters in Piano Pedagogy. Well, maybe I’m reading too much into all this…

  182. Teachers response: ” Rudy made $40 minus $3 bus fare, so profit is $37 for Sadie and he made all $45 for Chad with no expenses.”

    What? No >.<; I would’ve given the wrong answer.

    Sadie is the more profitable, god-dammit. Even with the bus fair taken into consideration, if she spent the same amount of time on each, Sadie’s worth more. The only reason Chad got more money was because more time was spent on him. That’s not profit, is it…? Because Chad’s lessons were actually less profitable than Sadie’s, there were just more of them?

    Like she only needs one student so decides to drop one of them, looks at it and goes, hm, which nets me more money, Sadie or Chad, and goes “Chad does!” purely from the figures and then later goes “but hang on… the only reason Chad got me more money was because I was doing extra work…for less money…”

    I’m sorry but that doesn’t sound very profitable to me >:/

  183. cough which would be in my justify column for getting a kids math question wrong…

  184. This is why you don’t ask Pearson SHIT!!!

    They have the f-ing monopoly on the f-ing tests we’re FORCED to give kids so now they’ve got a monopoly on everything from curriculum, to study guides to EVERYTHING – they probably won’t answer your question saying it ‘violates test security’…sorry – teacher here in the middle of testing season….want to pull out my hair, cry, and or drink.

  185. Thank goddess my kids are in their 30s, even the teacher’s response made no sense. Near as I can figure Sadie is the right answer but not because of the reasons Hailey’s teacher gave. She’s comparing two lessons to three lessons, so need to breakdown the per lesson cost to figure out the correct answer. Lessons for Sadie are $18.50 each and lessons for Chad are $15 each. So, still the right answer, but if Hailey and her classmates are supposed to be learning critical thinking skills then the teacher’s answer (let’s just agree to call it the testing company’s answer) doesn’t go far enough. At least that’s what my “new math” education taught me. But what do I know? 😉

  186. Flowers would be nice for the teacher. Even better would be a gift card to a nice restaurant.

  187. No wonder you couldn’t get the answer…..where the hell was Rudy?

  188. I was considering not hating this question when it seemed possible that the answer could be either of them, as long as it was well justified. But I am not impressed by the “real” answer. Smart kids with lateral thinking skills would very possibly get this wrong and lost marks for thinking better than the textbook company did.

  189. Either way, the net profit clearly isn’t worth the time it took to figure this crap out. Therefore, the correct answer is “Piano lessons is a poor career choice.”

  190. Yeah, this problem assumes a questionable definition of the word “profit”. What the fuck, Pearson? That’s not so much math as an exercise in mindfuckery. I just watched a John Oliver video that’s so relevant to this on standardized testing and the companies (Pearson included!) who run them. Recommended: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6lyURyVz7k

  191. It’s not just math stupid, it’s reality stupid. Piano lessons have not been $15 and $20 since the 1970s maybe. How old is that math book and why are they insulting piano teachers?

  192. It’s not just math stupid, it’s reality stupid! Piano lessons have not been $15 and $20 since the 1970s. How old is that math book and why are they insulting piano teachers?

  193. Thank you for this spot-on example of what’s wrong with Pearson’s 4th grade math curriculum. Is your daughter also using Pearson’s Envisions? I have a fourth grader as well, and it drives me nuts (although honestly, the English-Language Arts Common Core standards bug me more than the math standards (maybe that’s because I was once an English teacher). Anyway, you might be interested in this piece I wrote about Pearson’s shoddy math curriculum, which ran in The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/10/08/pearsons-wrong-answer-and-why-it-matters-in-the-high-stakes-testing-era/

    Thank you for bringing attention to this. My reach is substantial for me, but nothing like your reach (and by the way, I have my own metal rooster because of you).

  194. Thanks for drawing attention to this. My 4th grader is also using the Envisions math curriculum by Pearson. I wrote about one mistake I encountered here (as well as why it matters): http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/10/08/pearsons-wrong-answer-and-why-it-matters-in-the-high-stakes-testing-era/

    But thank you so much for drawing attention to this. My blog has decent reach in the education blogger appeal, but I don’t have nearly the reach that you do, so I very much appreciate that you drew attention to this.

    P.S. I highly recommend the John Oliver piece re Pearson and high-stakes testing that someone posted above.

  195. Just glancing at that photo gave me a panic attack. I hope my daughter never makes it to 4th grade. Because then she’ll know I’m an idiot. Right now, she still thinks I know everything.m

  196. Dear God – what is wrong with teaching 4th graders to add, subtract, multiply and divide? Let’s save logic until high school!!!

  197. Pearson math (Common Core math) is a horrid wasteland. It was supposedly developed by college professors, with only one elementary math teacher involved. And Bill Gates has had a huge hand in pushing it down our throats, which tells us all we need to know.

  198. @trailertrashdeluxe- you said it all. Anytime Pearson is involved- and they are involved in EVERYTHING- you’re in trouble. We had one of their Social Studies textbooks last year. It was truly horrific, and that’s just the spelling and grammar errors.

  199. If THAT is the most ridiculous question you have – trust me – you’re one of the teacher’s favorite parents!

  200. Good news! You’re not a bad parent.
    Bad news: you’re a bad capitalist. Profit is always about having more money than the competition even at the expense of lower wages for the workers. Therefore it makes total sense that you made more profit by keeping Rudy’s wages lower.

  201. I was so excited to be given a math problem when I came to check out your site! (To explain: I have a math degree, I love math, I look forward to doing math with my son). As other people have mentioned, the question was not written well. I hate when questions are not written well.

  202. Teach is wrong!! Bus fare is $1.50 each way. Total is $6.00 deductions. Ruby needs to drop Sadie.

  203. I just have to say, I still don’t think there’s enough information to accurately state what the profits REALLY are. I mean, all you have is bus fare. What about materials? Overhead costs? The costs of the receipts she has to purchase to keep track of all that shit for tax time? WHY ARE YOU DEMANDING ANSWERS TO MATH QUESTIONS WITHOUT PROVIDING ADEQUATE DETAILS, 4TH GRADE HOMEWORK?!?!

  204. The testing company Pearson is actually notorious for having vague, confusing, and even outright incorrect information on their test questions and answers, and are remarkably unwilling to talk about it. They also happen to corner the market on standardized testing.

  205. Lets talk about why Chad doesn’t have to pay as much for a lesson as Sadie. I think that’s the real headline here.

  206. The problem here is Pearson and their ambiguous questions. That’s why they must be stopped at all cost. They are ruining public education.

  207. All of the information is on the side of the problem this question is not missing any information.

  208. I don’t see a problem with question 9. The problem is that this question too complex for a 4th grader to work out on their own without help. Maybe the point of the question is to get help… I don’t know.

    The answer to question 9 is Chad because although Sadie has a higher rate per hour, hence higher profit, the question is really asking the total profit for MAY. You have to take into account the scribble on the right hand side and the context in which the question is asked. The fact that the scribble is just for the month of May, then one has to assume that the profit being calculated is for month of May… not individual “per lesson” rates. For all we know, the month of June may have Sadie with the higher profit because she may get more lessons than Chad… we don’t know. All we’re given is the work that was done in May so the profit has be calculated based on that.


    they said that if you multiply 4 times 5 it is 20, then I clicked it and pressed sumit and it siad it was wrong. Soooo I made a guess and I guessed 14 and it was correct. WHAT THE HECK? After that I started to rage, Tenmarks just make you not like math anymore, I use to like math now I hate it cause of FRICKEN TENMARKS.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: