kitchen table math, the sequel: state test

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

state test

I've been forgetting to mention that it looks like our marathon test-prep operation paid off.

Christopher missed only 2 of 30 multiple choice questions (the tests are scored at school).

I don't know how he did on the 8 short answer questions, but I imagine he did well.

I'm sold on the test prep books the school ordered from Triumph Learning. They're terrific.

Each concept/skill/procedure in the state standards is explained clearly in a brief, succinct lesson followed by a problem set consisting of multiple choice, short answer, and extended response questions.

At the end of each section ("algebra," "geometry," "probability") there's a "Progress Check" with problems from all of the lessons.

The books also include several practice state tests.

This is exactly what I've been needing, because the book is targeted to the state standards; it has exactly the material actually being taught in C.'s class, and nothing more. I'm not having to scrounge through zillions of on- and off-line workbooks trying to come up with problems that match the course content.

Better yet, a parent can read the lesson, work the problems, and be in a very good position to "help with homework."

We're going to be using the 8th grade book to help prepare Christopher for his classroom tests for the rest of the year.

I should see whether Triumph has a similar book for Regents Math A. If so, I'm going to order it.

California test prep

Triumph writes books for the CA standards, which are the best in the country. I just looked at a pdf file sample from the algebra 1 book (link may not work - you may have to navigate from homepage). It's terrific.

Here's the ad copy:

This Coach book is the ideal supplement to classroom instruction for students who struggle with difficult algebra concepts. Every math skill students are expected to know is covered by concise lessons, specifically written to reach students at all levels of ability. All lessons are correlated to California Standards so that instruction can be focused on those areas where students need the most help.

The California Standards-Based Coach, Mathematics-Algebra I can be flexibly used in a variety of ways throughout the year. It is ideal as a classroom supplement, for intense review toward the end of the year, for independent study with advanced students, in intervention programs, or in summer school programs for struggling students.

Notice the fact that these books are suitable for students at all levels.

That's direct instruction. Direct instruction pedagogy is (almost) never geared toward one student population. Typically everyone can use the same lessons. The difference amongst students lies in the speed at which they master the material.

This approach -- same curriculum for everyone, "grouping" by placement in the curriculum -- stands in direct opposition to the approach taken by my district.

Here we separate the men from the mice by creating difficult ("challenging" is the term of art) courses only 25% to 30% of the student body can handle.

That's what we pay the big bucks for!

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

all the answers are belong to us
email to the math chair
second request
teacher's manual
it would be unusual


Andy Lange said...

I actually read Engleman's Rubric for Identifying Authentic DI Programs (PDF) yesterday, and I have been enlightened. He shows that what makes a particular set of lessons DI is way more than just a script, drills, and a particular layout on the page.

(Yes, the title uses rubric, which the constructivists had managed to turn into a dirty word for me, but this is actually meaningful)

The rubric can be used to see whether the Coach books are (generic) direct instruction, or Direct Instruction (TM).

Catherine Johnson said...


I'll have to read that!