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Puzzling through a geometry question

Questions raised about a geometry question in the

Questions raised about a geometry question in the Regents exam. Credit: iStock

With regard to your June 23 news story “Scoring glitch in test,” about this spring’s geometry Regents exam, the grading rubric for the exam is available on the state Education Department website. For question No. 31, the rubric states that the question is worth two points “if correct work is shown.”

It then says the question is worth only one point if “appropriate work is shown, but one computational or rounding error is made.”

So if a student calculated the answer to be 433.525903651 and then failed to correctly round to 434, why would the state issue a notification indicating that 433 was also acceptable?

Janet Mahoney, Ronkonkoma

Editor’s note: The writer, a retired civil engineer, is an adjunct assistant professor of mathematics at Suffolk County Community College.

The question was badly chosen. Providing two choices when the precise value is just barely past the midpoint is asking for trouble.

I ran the problem in MathCad software to get a precise value, and yes, 434 is correct, but it is possible for a student to do nothing wrong and still conclude that 433 is correct, depending on the calculator used and rounding decisions.

With a simple pocket calculator, the result can depend on the number of decimal places used for pi. Two or four will yield 434, but three will yield 433 as the “correct” answer.

Using a “scientific” calculator with a built-in precise value for pi, a correct result is obtained as long as you multiply by 4 and divide by 3. If you simplify, and multiply by 1 1/3, the results depend on the number of threes you use after the decimal point. Use four or more, and 434 is good — but 1.333 yields 433.4175, and 1.33 yields 432.4421!

Allowing both 434 and 433 is only fair.

Charles Blaut, New Hyde Park

Editor’s note: The writer is a retired mechanical engineer.

Question for

FBI’s Strzok

The question that Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives questioning FBI agent Peter Strzok [Agent rejects bias charge, News, July 13] should have asked and the American people should want to know is: You and FBI agent Lisa Page apparently exchanged 50,000 text messages while in one of the highest positions in the FBI. When in heaven’s name did you have time to do actual work?

Thomas Calabrese, Farmingdale