[Paleopsych] NYT: Wrong, Wrong and Wrong: Math Guides Are Recalled

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The New York Times > New York Region > Wrong, Wrong and Wrong: Math Guides Are Recalled
March 25, 2005

[It looks like the NYC school system is reaching DC levels of 


     City education officials were forced to recall test preparation
     materials for math exams late Wednesday after discovering that they
     were rife with errors, including basic arithmetic mistakes.

     The materials were intended for math students in grades 3 through 7,
     but the faulty information - at least 18 errors - was found before it
     reached classrooms. The testing guides were e-mailed late Wednesday to
     regional instructional specialists, math coaches and local
     instructional superintendents and recalled a few hours later.

     Some answers in the guide were wrong. Other questions suffered from
     odd wording, the incorrect notation of exponents and sloppy diagrams.
     Besides the math mistakes, there were problems with grammar and
     spelling. For instance, the word "fourth" was misspelled on the cover
     of the fourth-grade manual.

     According to school officials, a fact-checker within the department
     failed to do a proper job.

     "We have a clear protocol for review of all materials," said Carmen
     Fariña, the deputy chancellor for teaching and learning. "In this
     case, a member of my staff inexcusably failed to follow our protocol,
     and I have written a letter of reprimand to the person's file. We
     recalled the materials within hours, corrections to the guide will be
     made, and it again will be distributed digitally."

     That explanation did not pacify parents and teachers.

     "They should not be allowed to make all kinds of excuses," said Jane
     Hirschmann, co-chairwoman of a parents' organization called Time Out
     From Testing. "The fact is, if third- or fifth-grade students made the
     mistakes made in the test prep materials, they would be flunked and no
     one would be asking them for an explanation."

     Several math coaches and teachers who had seen the test preparation
     manuals yesterday notified Randi Weingarten, the president of the
     United Federation of Teachers. Ms. Weingarten seemed outraged.

     "Tweed has no problem with excessively criticizing teachers for
     failing to meet its picayune mandates," Ms. Weingarten said, referring
     to the Department of Education by the name for its headquarters, the
     Tweed Courthouse. "But then it produces a test prep manual riddled
     with errors and misspellings. The hypocrisy is stunning. They could
     avoid embarrassing things like this if they were more collegial and
     shared these documents with us, instead of running things in a
     top-down management style that does not welcome or want input."

     Dr. Alfred Posamentier, the dean of the City College School of
     Education and a professor of mathematics, said his staff would have
     been happy to help review the materials.

     "Official documents sent out by the Department of Education carrying
     their imprimatur have a great deal of influence on teachers and
     students and must be perfect," he said. "And in particular, in
     mathematics where you have such an exact science, there is no room for

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