TEACHERS: MATH TEXT IS A POOR ADDITION
New York Post, February 13, 2003
By CARL CAMPANILE
February 13, 2003 - A new textbook that's supposed to help high-school students pass the Regents math exam doesn't do the job, teachers charged yesterday.
The teachers said the Prentice Hall book called "New York Math A," which they've been ordered to use, is supposed to update a previous book, simply called "Algebra." It was revised to bring the material in line with the state's new math curriculum and exam. But teachers complained the books are nearly identical, with the same 11 chapters covering precisely the same topics and material. The only difference is there are some Regents test-prep questions sprinkled in the new version, mostly at the end of each chapter, increasing the number of pages from 675 to 700.
"The book is not as advertised. It is not aligned with the Math A Regents exam," charged Charles Galioto, a 18-year veteran math teacher at Lehman HS in The Bronx. "It is not a book that was written with the Math A Regents in mind." Lehman teacher Steve Hiller agreed, emphasizing it's a risky strategy for the Department of Education to rely on only one textbook. "If our kids don't pass," he said, "they don't graduate."
Schools Chancellor Joel Klein's office insisted that "Math A" is aligned with the state's curriculum and stressed teachers will be trained how to use the book. "The text provides test-taking strategies, practice and preparation. It emphasizes skills and critical thinking for success on the exam and college-level math," said Klein spokesman Kevin Ortiz. He said numerous math experts, including the association representing city high school math department heads, were consulted before choosing the text.
But Lehman teachers who used the book this year said they had to provide a lot of other material to prepare kids for the Regents. Other teachers questioned the choice. Carwen Dublin, a math teacher at Middle College HS in Brooklyn, said he prefers a book published by Amsco. "Amsco is aligned with the exam," he said. "It's a better prep book. There are more Regents-related test questions in the Amsco book." But Ortiz said the Prentice book was not just selected for test prep. "That would be a disservice. We want to go beyond that. We're not just content with teaching what's on the exam," he said.
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