kitchen table math, the sequel: state test coming right up

Friday, February 16, 2007

state test coming right up

cross posted to Irvington Parents Forum --

Hi all --

Ordering information:

  • Call Marybeth at Triumph Learning (
  • 508.571.6602 or toll free: 800.221.9372
  • tell her you are an Irvington parent & you’d like to order the Teacher Guide for your child’s test prep book
  • give her the title and grade level of your booklet
  • costs: Teacher Guide $5.95; shipping: $.60; handling: $5.95 (My total: $13.42)
  • delivery: Marybeth said they’d ship first thing Tuesday & I’d have the book Wednesday (they’re in MA)
  • I ordered next year’s math prep book and Teacher Guide, putting my total cost up to $44.01.

I spent part of my day tracking down the Teacher Guide for the New York State March-to-March Edition test prep books some of us have been asked to buy.

The book would be terrific if not for the fact that the answers aren’t included, which significantly reduces its usefulness.

The optimal way to learn math to mastery is to:

  • work 10 to 20 carefully selected problems a day (source: Wayne Wickelgren, Math Coach)
  • check your answers
  • re-do problems you missed

Ms. Urban used to send home Xeroxed copies of the answer key, but now that Ms. Urban has retired her policy seems to have retired with her. Parents have requested answers be sent home; department’s answer has been ‘no.’

As far as the test prep books are concerned, the problem seems to be copyright law. Legally speaking the school should not be Xeroxing copies of the Teacher Guide to pass out to parents.

That problem is easily solved, I would think. In future years the school can find out how many parents wish to purchase Teacher Guides and order accordingly.

Or perhaps the math department can look at establishing an informal policy of having all students check and correct their work using the answer key in the Teacher Guide. In that case the school would ask everyone to purchase both books as a matter of course.

In any event, Irvington parents can order their own copies directly from Triumph Learning if they like. Office is closed on Monday, open again on Tuesday.

Catherine J.

direct instruction in Irvington

This is funny. After I talked to the rep at Triumph Learning, I read the "About Triumph Learning" page and found this:

State-specific Coach books are systematically developed. First, the state’s curriculum standards and previous tests are thoroughly reviewed by Triumph editors for content. Then the tests are analyzed for question style and format, typography, and narrative characteristics. Testing coordinators and specialists from the individual states are engaged to review and comment on the initial samples prepared by writers; the samples are then revised based upon this input. As writing proceeds, educators at the state department level and from the larger districts within the state are asked to review and critique the materials.

Coach books are carefully structured to match the standards and skills in each state’s curriculum. These standards and skills are broken down into their component parts and each is explicitly taught in the student books through example, instruction, and practice. Practice tests are included as well and, for the most part, the books are self-instructional. [ed.: except for that little problem about being able to check & correct your work, of course]

This is hilarious.

We've got the science department telling parents that only the top 10% of students in the country can handle the 8th grade Regents Earth Science* course because it's "taught conceptually."

If the state told the school they had to get everyone passing the Earth Science Regents test at the end of 8th grade there'd probably be a whole lot less talk about "explorations" and "investigations" and a whole lot more talk about breaking concepts down into their component parts and teaching them explicitly through example, instruction, and practice.

More state standards, please!


* Regents courses are required for high school graduation. The course being taught in 8th grade is the same course everyone takes later on, normally in 10th grade. One parent asked how students below the 90th percentile were "miraculously" going to be able to handle the course in high school and the answer was that they would be "more mature." As a consequence of this exchange I have now discovered the presence of raging developmentalism in my school district.


state test coming right up (2006)
throwing money at the problem
more stuff only teachers can buy

help desk 1
state test coming right up (2007)
help desk 2
my life and welcome to it
progress report
28 out of 30

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