KTM User Pages
03 Mar 2006 - 22:58
The kids took a sample state math test today. It was a debacle. Especially the 'short answer' questions, where you have to actually do some math and find an answer. Christopher got 13 out of 24 right. The smartest kid in the class scored 19. Meanwhile the kids in Phase 3 are coming up with scores like FIVE. I'm sure TRAILBLAZERS will solve these problems.
update Remember Christopher's friend-in-flunking from 4th grade? This was the boy who was in Christopher's math class, getting the same Ds and Fs Christopher was getting. He's in Phase 3 to this day, and hasn't made up the lost ground as far as I can see. He just called. He got 4 answers right. Out of 24. So all my hard efforts are paying off! Christopher is now flunking math at a much higher level!
Glencoe top secret test prep The kids are preparing for the state test using a Glencoe booklet called Mastering the Intermediate Level Mathematics Test: Diagnose - Prescribe - Practice Workbook. Apparently, this is a booklet only Official School Personnel can purchase. Its existence is mentioned nowhere in any materials available to parents or students. You can Google it all you want; you can look up the ISBN number; you can drill down into the deepest, darkest recesses of the Glencoe website. It's not there. This kind of thing makes me nuts. A couple of years ago I tried to buy the SRA spelling curriculum, Spelling Through Morphographs. It's a remedial program, co-written by Seigfried Engelmann. I had no idea who Engelmann was at the time, which makes Spelling Through Morphographs the second Engelmann book I picked out 'cold,' the first being Engelmann's book about teaching your kid to read. Apparently Seigfried Engelmann and I are as one. Here's the description:
Spelling Through Morphographs
So that's right up my alley. Mathematically speaking, a kid who can't spell has to have some kind of 'lever'; there's not enough time between now and adulthood — or now and the SATs — to memorize each one of however many gazillion words in the English language are known & used by smart people. You have to learn the component parts and a finite set of rules for putting them together. Naturally, nobody teaches spelling that way any more. Today spelling is taught 'thematically,' meaning kids are supposed to learn to spell whichever words happen to be used in that week's social studies or ELA units. At the beginning of the week kids are handed a vocabulary list of words they'll be seeing and using that week. Then, at the end of the week, they're supposed to be able to spell them. This has created a generation of what spelling researchers call 'Friday spellers.' I'm sure there are many excellent Friday spellers out there. Christopher is not one of them. If Christopher's going to learn to spell, he's going to have to have a rational, coherent, intelligent curriculum that's been specifically designed to teach spelling. As in spelling per se. I figured Spelling Morphographs was it.
foiled again So I called up the folks at SRA. They said Forget it; they wouldn't sell me the program unless I could prove I was a bona fide homeschooler. I had to have papers. I was furious. My school wasn't teaching my kid to spell, I was spending hours trying to figure out what the he** spelling was in the first place (turns out spelling is reading, only harder), I was trying to find the relevant research fast and get a handle on it fast, and I wasn't having fun doing any of this. Learning math & math ed so I can teach math at home is fun. Learning spelling & spelling ed so I can teach spelling at home is not fun. I was ready to be done investigating spelling. I wanted to get whatever book I was going to get and go back to doing routine stuff like earning a living. I wanted Spelling Morphographs. But no. I couldn't have Spelling Morphographs, because I'm not CERTIFIED. I'm not OFFICIAL. I MIGHT BE TRYING TO CHEAT. The big textbook publishing outfits have all kinds of bans on selling to parents. Think about that. The big textbook companies have formal, fully-enforced rules against selling educational materials to parents. The big textbook companies are cheerfully oblivious to the fact that it's our money that supports their products in the first place; without parents and other tax-paying citizens, SRA could hang it up. But their products are Top Secret. Can't be sold to us. If our school district elects not to send the textbooks home in the backpack, we don't even get to see what we've paid for. The customer service rep was a sweet-sounding Texas gal who in fact was homeschooling her own kids. Sounding sympathetic, she rattled off a list of online Christian textbook outfits I could try, and told me she'd give me the phone number for my local rep so I could maybe twist his arm and get him to bend the rules. This just made me more furious, although I managed not to bite her head off. You're telling me I'm gonna have to dive into the whole arcane world of online Christian homeschooling bookstores (until that moment I hadn't even known there was a whole arcane world of online Christian homeschooling bookstores)* and figure all that out, too??? You're telling me, Go back to Google and start all over again? No! Wrong! I don't want to start all over again! I don't want to Google online Christian homeschooling bookstores! I don't want to call my local SRA rep and beg him to sell me an illegal Spelling Textbook! My kid can't spell, my school isn't teaching him to spell, and I can't buy a remedial spelling book from SRA? Because why? What is the reasoning here? What am I gonna do with my own personal Parent Copy of a remedial spelling textbook? Tell my kid the answers before he takes the test? Wait! Wait! That's exactly what I'm gonna do! I'm gonna tell my kid how to spell the words that are gonna be on the test and make him practice until he can spell them! The reason I'm gonna do that is: THIS IS SPELLING. THERE'S NO 'MEMORIZED THE ANSWERS'-TYPE CHEATING IN SPELLING. MEMORIZING THE ANSWER BEFORE YOU TAKE THE TEST IS SPELLING.
So then naturally I got sidetracked trying to find some way for the state of New York to certify me as a part-time homeschooler, which went nowhere and got me even more aggravated.....and at some point in there I discovered Megawords, thank the Lord.
So now My Tax Dollars are paying for a Top Secret Glencoe Test Prep Diagnose Practice Assign grade 6 workbook that I'm (apparently) not allowed to purchase as a mere parent of a kid who has to take this freaking test. I can't stand it.
New York state math test prep over vacation
state test impending doom
SRA spelling research
How many words in the English language?
How many words in the English language? (another view)
a million or more words in the English language
FAQs: how many words?
*Now, of course, I get invited to special Christian homeschool days at Six Flags. I am among the initiate.
-- CatherineJohnson - 03 Mar 2006 Back to main page.
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Maybe you could get some homeschooler friend to order it for you. Sounds interesting. Do you know any of the math problems that the kids had to solve? I'm curious about what they were. -- SusanS - 04 Mar 2006
Do you know any of the math problems that the kids had to solve? No. We haven't been informed. That would be Telling. -- CatherineJohnson - 04 Mar 2006
That's really amazing. Words fail me. So there's a whole top secret world of textbooks out there to which parents are not privy by policy. -- CarolynJohnston - 04 Mar 2006
IMHO, state tests evaluate the teacher/curriculum, not the student. The teacher should be concerned more about the test than the students. I teach my own, so if they do poorly I on an assesment or they just don't seem to be "getting it", I have to figure out where I went wrong in my instruction. I am currently teaching my 2nd grader multiplication facts for the second time. I noticed that the wheels had fallen off when we got to 4x's. As far as buying textbooks, word has it that eBay is forbidding the sale of teacher's manuals! I'm glad there are alternatives. Try Campusi.com for resellers of textbooks. They go by title or ISBN so you get the version you are looking for. -- NicksMama - 04 Mar 2006
*Now, of course, I get invited to special Christian homeschool days at Six Flags. I am among the Initiated. That's funny! Thanks for the chuckle on a day when I really needed one! -- KarenA - 04 Mar 2006
IMHO, state tests evaluate the teacher/curriculum, not the student. This is how I understand it. One time my LD son performed poorly on one of the Social Studies tests. I spoke to the teacher about whether it was something I could do from my end (did he not know his countries and continents or did the questions involve more higher-ordered thinking?) The teacher and principal both reassured me that the test was a measurement of them and not my son. Still, the results of these tests cause changes in curriculum that can seriously impact them, so I think we have a right to know what the heck they are doing. I do get the impression that the IL ISATs seem to change yearly, driving the teachers crazy. The hoop jumping around here right now is frenetic. -- SusanS - 04 Mar 2006
Catherine, Have you looked at Spelling Power by Beverly L. Adams-Gordon? It is published by Castlemoyle Books, and it organizes a list of the 5,000 most frequently used words by phoenetic principles and spelling rules. The author developed the program for her own daughter who had a terrible time learning to spell. -- DianeAustin - 06 Mar 2006
So there's a whole top secret world of textbooks out there to which parents are not privy by policy. Yes. And especially the Teachers' Editions. NO PARENT CAN OWN A TEACHER'S EDITION. TEACHER'S EDITIONS ARE FOR TEACHERS. -- CatherineJohnson - 07 Mar 2006
As far as buying textbooks, word has it that eBay is forbidding the sale of teacher's manuals! YOU'RE KIDDING! That's unbelievable. (Is it true?) And why would they do it? Disgusting. -- CatherineJohnson - 07 Mar 2006
Catherine, Have you looked at Spelling Power by Beverly L. Adams-Gordon? oh thanks so much for the tip I like MEGAWORDS, and I think we're making progress.....but how would I know? Not having access to any assessment tools myself. I could use another book or two on the subject (I'm thinking about the ABC's book, too.) -- CatherineJohnson - 07 Mar 2006
This weekend Christopher had to do a drawing for art class. The drawing had a bunch of words for some reason (I forget). He spelled 'temperature' 'temeture' and 'werewolf' was 'warewolf.' Then we tried to go to lunch at an Italian restaurant called Abatino's. He couldn't begin to read the word. I think he started off with 'abolution' or something like that. -- CatherineJohnson - 07 Mar 2006
I wonder if it would do any good to have him read some nonsense multi-syllabic words. -- CatherineJohnson - 07 Mar 2006
Did you see this? My now fourth grader was using another spelling program in 1st grade and got really burned out. It was the traditional study the list all week, write the words, pre-test on Thursday and test on Friday. She and I both hated it! This program sounds 'calmer' than Megawords. I love the way Megawords teaches the 'structure' of English....but every day the page in the workbook is different; you have to read the directions, figure it out, etc..... I never feel that the variety in the pages adds instructional value. (I could be wrong.) -- CatherineJohnson - 07 Mar 2006
They study the words they missed using a 10 point study program (all lined out in the record book they use). The next day, they first re-test on the words they missed, and then go on to the next set of words on the designated list. The placement tests show you exactly where to start and where your child is according to grade level. Although it is designed to use starting with 8 and up, I am using it with my 6 year old, too. She was jealous of her sister getting to do this spelling. She does great! We just move slower. The teaching of study skills is powerful! Get this program! Don't be overwhelmed with the text. boy, that does sound good Especially now, here in middle school, where we're so frazzled, I want an extremely 'clean' repetitive program for home use. -- CatherineJohnson - 07 Mar 2006
I may have a way to get some of the top secret books. Do you have a list of most desired books? -- RudbeckiaHirta - 08 Mar 2006
oooooo - I JUST FOUND THIS!!!! YES I DO HAVE A LIST OF MOST DESIRED BOOKS! ONE: The Glencoe test prep books seem fantastic. (Maybe they're not, but this one sure seemed excellent.) TWO: the Teacher's Manual for the Amsco book. I think I'm going to leave your comment here in the Comments thread. But this reminds me: I wanted to get your mention of the presentation on having kids rewrite word problems pulled up front.... -- CatherineJohnson - 09 Mar 2006
I loved this post. The sense of frustration is palpable. On the one hand, textbook publishers want us to use textbooks. But they are not so sure they want them in the hands of the "wrong" people, including those (like me) who make a living evaluating textbooks based on rigorous criteria. I have a devil of a time getting my hands on books, sometimes. You'd think they contained the mysteries of teh Universe. So sometimes I resort to subterfuge. Cheating the system does nothing to improve my karma, but it does help me make a living (and provide some useful information to educators). Thanks for an interesting post. Mark Montgomery www.textbookevaluator.com -- KtmGuest - 27 Sep 2006
hi, Mark! I'd never seen your blog before! I'll put a post on the front page - thanks! It really is incredible, the idea that textbooks, knowledge, and correct answers should be the exclusive property of publishing companies and certified teachers. Virtually no one in the public knows this. -- CatherineJohnson - 27 Sep 2006
If you're still around, here's a particularly ludicrous example from my own life. I'm interested in using one of Martha Kolln's books to teach myself grammar. These are college textbooks. I can't purchase the teacher's edition, which means I can't check my work against the correct answers. I'm a middle-aged person interested in learning grammar from one of the leading scholars on the subject, and I'm out of luck. -- CatherineJohnson - 27 Sep 2006