We read with some interest the recent article in The Daily Star regarding the demise of the GED in NYS. We were some relieved when we discovered, upon reading beyond the headline, that the GED was being replaced with a new high school equivalency test called the Test Assessment Secondary Completion or TASC.
Now we must admit that we really knew little, if anything, about questions asked for the GED. But now, with all the changes in the focus of education associated with the Common Core curriculum, we were curious about the new testing system. And thus we went online to see what we might discover.
Much to our delight we found, on the TASC website, www.tascteat.com, sample questions for the testing program. We discovered the test seems to be divided into five sections, mathematics, science, social studies, reading and writing. Since it was listed first, we dove directly into the section on mathematics.
The first question read: “When a spherical balloon is filled with air, it has a diameter of 6 inches. Which of the following gives the best estimate for the volume of air in the balloon in cubic inches? A. 63.6 B. 108.0 C. 113.1 D. 150.8”
Now we suspect, if one knows the formula for finding the volume of the sphere, this is not a particularly difficult question. We also suspect that at some point in our life, perhaps even in high school, we knew the formula for finding the volume of a sphere. However, since graduating from high school close to 50 years ago, we must confess that we have never encountered the need to compute the volume of a sphere. Of course, we cannot speak for anyone else’s need to calculate the volume of a sphere as our lifetime experience with the problem may be unique. For all we know, others have been figuring the volume of spheres on a regular basis. And since it is the first sample question given we can but conclude it is an important exercise for today’s students.