Pearson’s Wrong Answer

Updated (Oct. 10): Pearson responded to this post in the comments section.  See Pearson’s Apology. 

Last Friday morning, my fourth grader handed me her “Thursday folder” shortly before we needed to head to the bus stop. I was glad to see a perfect spelling test, and a bunch of excellent math assignments and math tests. Time was short, however, so I flipped to the wrong answers. And sprinkled among the math tests, I came across two wrong answers that caused me concern.

The first problem was this:

Now, I looked at this problem before I’d had my morning coffee, and I wasn’t sure at first that I wasn’t just missing something. So I posted this picture to my Facebook feed, and asked my friends to confirm that I wasn’t crazy.

But my daughter was right: if Curtis walked three miles a day for 26 weeks, Curtis did in fact walk 546 miles.

3 miles/day x 7 days/week = 21 miles/week
21 miles/week x 26 weeks = 546 miles

I double, triple, and quadruple checked myself.  I pulled out a calculator.  

My friends agreed: my initial reaction to this question wasn’t nuts. My daughter’s answer was correct. And they came up with some good theories for why the answer might have been marked wrong.

Perhaps the teacher was trying to teach children, especially girls, to be confident in their answers, and she’d been marked wrong due to the question mark.

Perhaps she’d been marked wrong because she failed to indicate the units.

Perhaps she’d been marked wrong because she hadn’t provided every step of her work (i.e., she’d figured out the first step (3 miles/day x 7 days/week = 21 miles/week) in her head, and therefore had paid what one of my friends memorably described as a “smart kid penalty.”

But they were all wrong.

My daughter is fortunate enough to attend an excellent public school and her responsive teacher both sent a note home and called me that afternoon to discuss (I’d scribbled a quick note asking what the deal was along with my required signature on the front of the paper).

It turned out that my daughter had been marked wrong for a very simple reason: the Pearson answer key was wrong.

Let me say that again: Pearson was wrong.

Pearson listed some totally different — and wrong — number as the answer. The teacher had missed it when reviewing the test with the morning class, but in the afternoon class she’d realized the problem. My daughter’s teacher apologized for forgetting to mention it again to the morning class (and for not having previously changed their grades, but to be honest, I really could not care less if my kid scored a 95% or 100% on a 4th grade in-class math test).

In the olden days, I’d have laughed it off. Once in awhile, the textbook publisher screws up. In the olden days, that screw up was no big deal: it is mildly annoying to those of us who pay the taxes to buy the books, but it’s a pretty minor annoyance in the grand scheme of things.

However, these are not the olden days. These are the days of high stakes testing. These are the days in which our kids’ high school graduations hinge on tests created by the very same company — Pearson — that screwed up the answer to this question.

Tests we parents will never get to see.

Tests we parents will never get to review.

Tests we parents will never get to question.

So Pearson’s screw up on its fourth grade answer key doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

Presumably, before the enVisions curriculum was published, Pearson checked and rechecked it. Presumably, its editors were well-paid to review problems and answer keys.

After all, Pearson itself describes this math curriculum as:

Written specifically to address the Common Core State Standards, enVisionMATH Common Core is based on critical foundational research and proven classroom results.” 

And yet… it was still dead wrong.

It seems that all of Pearson’s critical foundational research and proven classroom results in the world couldn’t get the question 3 x 7 x 26 correct.

To the uninitiated, I bet I sound nuts.  Who cares, right?  It’s just a question on a math test.  But if we are going to trust this company to get it right on high-stakes tests (where there is no public accountability), then the company better get it right all the time when it is operating within the public eye.  So this isn’t just about a fourth grade math test.  It’s all of the other Pearson-created tests my daughter is scheduled to take: in particular, the PARCC tests this spring, which are the ones that come with no public review, and no public accountability.  

Here, the test came home in my daughter’s backpack. As a result, there was an opportunity for public review and public accountability because I could review the test and question the wrong answer. The teacher could check the question and realize that the book was wrong, and substitute her own professional judgment for that of the textbook publisher.

And most importantly, the mistake was not a big deal, because the outcome of this test would not determine my daughter’s placement into an advanced math class or a particular school or even prevent her from graduating from the fourth grade. The outcome of this test would not determine her teacher’s future salary or employment. This test was nothing more than the kind of test our nine and ten year olds should be taking: a fourth grade in-class, teacher-graded chapter test. At most, this test will determine a small portion of my daughter’s report card grade.

But what about those tests that Pearson will be administering to our students this spring? We won’t be able to review the test questions, the answer keys, or our children’s answer sheets. We won’t be able to catch Pearson’s mistakes.

This spring, even if the answer really is 546 miles, Pearson will be able to write that Curtis traveled 1024 miles, or 678 miles, or 235 miles, or any other distance it wants. And we’ll never know that our kids weren’t wrong: Pearson was. But our kids’ futures — and their teachers’ careers — will be riding on the outcomes of those tests.

There has to be a better way.

In a low-stakes world, Pearson’s screw up was a low-stakes mistake. But now we’re forcing our kids — our eight, nine, and ten year olds — to live in a high-stakes world.

And in a high-stakes world, Pearson’s screw ups are high-stakes. So shame on you, Pearson, for undermining my daughter’s hard-earned (and easily eroded) math confidence with your careless error. I will parent my kid so that she learns not to second-guess herself with question marks after her answers. 

But Pearson, I will be second-guessing you. As publicly as possible.

And perhaps… just perhaps… I will start shorting your stock.

235 thoughts on “Pearson’s Wrong Answer

    1. I doubt very much that the editors are all that “high paid.” This is not to deny the very real concerns raised by the writer and the respondents, but I have worked as an editor in the textbook world, and we were not highly paid, and we were severely constrained by management to as how much time we could spend on a manuscript. It was not at Pearson (rather, at a company gobbled up by Pearson), but I’m guessing things are not much different.

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      1. I don’t care if you were highly paid or not. It is called accuracy and pride in your work. Otherwise, you aren’t worth being paid at all.

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      2. to Red: humans are humans regardless of how much they are paid, zero or $100k.
        However, you do bed to realize that the results from an editor reviewing 1 manuscript in a time period will be different from the same editor reviewing 5 over the same period. Regardless of the amount of pride you take in your work, and across most professions, you will notice a drop in performance when workers are overworked and overstressed.

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    2. Often these “editors” are interns, fresh out of college and eager for their start in the publishing world. Often, they are unpaid. High level editors are rubber stampers, unconcerned with 100% accuracy. When it comes to our children’s educational opportunities, there must be some oversight in place to guarantee fairness and accuracy!

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    3. I am also a math teacher, and have found tons of mistakes in Pearsons books and tests. It is horrible how much this company is allowed to control in education and the tax dollars they are being paid with.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. I quit my teaching job in Georgia out of frustration. A large percentage of the reason for my leaving was due to frustration with county and ‘corporate’ created assessments full of errors and other ridiculousness. I spent A LOT of time second guessing myself and consulting with other teachers, and my fourth graders (!), on how the provided ‘answers’ could be correct. I also noticed the trendy response of “answers will vary” a.k.a. “We don’t know either because this question is so ridiculous”. These assessments are a type of child abuse.

    Liked by 10 people

  2. The student is using the standard algorithm for multiplication which is a 5th grade common core standard. Students in 4th grade should be learning alternative methods to multiply such as partial products, area model, compensation, or breaking apart. The algorithm does not teach the underlying place value understanding that is necessary for success in the later grades. Signed, a 5th grade teacher who disagrees with most aspects of common core, but agrees with the intermediate elementary math progression

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Sparkling, you are flat out wrong. We had to know, yes by rote, all our times tables up to 12 x 12 by the end of THIRD GRADE! My daughers come home and they don’t know how to do basic math calculations because they are too busy going around the world to show all the convoluted steps to get to very basic calculations. I can’t imagine how hard, and how long, it will end up taking them to more complicated problems. NASA put a man on the moon with engineers that learned the “old way” and without modern computers. They were not shortchanged by not having “partial products, area model, compensation, or breaking apart.”

      Liked by 4 people

      1. But Joe, I bet yesterday’s engineers of NASA didn’t have Pearson sabotaging their very existence at every typo and unchecked standardized test question. Forget common sense Joe, this is high stakes we are talking about.

        I’m surprised the hallowed halls of America’s greatest universities and colleges are able to find students in these horrid times. I mean, by the very nature of the tests being “standardized” you would think all would suffer the same mistakes. The seismic wave of one or two wrong answers per test would ripple over our heartland and destroy our institutions of higher learning from Stanford to Harvard.

        However, it seems Pearson has singled out a single group of cluckety mother hens and their precious chicks as their targets. *GASP* Somehow, and I can’t figure out how, it is all so unfair. It’s no wonder our children are so fragile and “easily eroded”. Next all students will be putting question marks next to their answers and we’ll have a generation that can’t tie their shoes by themselves, let alone land on the moon.

        This is high stakes stuff we are talking about. HIGH STAKES!!! If Joe Blow can’t take bloggers and posters seriously, alas, America is doomed.

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      2. If you paid attention to her response, she said the use the algorithm in fifth grade. The only learn the other ways to get a crazy awesome sense of what numbers really mean and what they do. You just wait – these kids will be computing some ginormous amounts of math in their head faster than you or I ever could. I have learned more about numbers in three years of teaching the core than I did in all my undergrad, grad school, and 10 years of teaching before that. Its a whole new way of thinking and learning. Not just new standards. We are preparing the kids for jobs and problems that don’t exist yet so we have to teach them to THINK well enough to solve those problems! Not follow steps in a process. How will that serve them later?

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      3. Sorry, Joe, but those NASA engineers had to unlearn rote the first time they used a slide rule. Learning how to estimate in your head — the kind of thing common core is trying to inculcate — was a prerequisite for the slide rule math used in chemistry, aeronautics, engineering, etc. That kind of understanding, which has nothing to do with role memorization, is still a great check on calculator and computer entry/programming errors.

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    2. That seems pretty off topic. Who cares what algorithm she used? A calculator would have resulted in the wrong answer if the testing guide was published incorrectly…

      Liked by 2 people

    3. As a post-secondary engineering educator, I believe that we should teach out children to perform the calculation, not dissect the problem…especially when their mind isn’t ready to deconstruct the problem.

      Jonnie and Janie need to DESIGN the bridge, not explain why it fell into the river killing 15 people because somebody used a friendly number.

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  3. Great point and post, this is why I opted my child out of tests. Transparency matters we can’t impose high stakes then not double check results. Teachers have to sign gag orders, do not get to review results or even look over the shoulder of the students’ computer screens. This is a dark and ugly move towards corporate control of education. Those that control the content, results will control the stakes. Parents opting out is the only way to stop it.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. I question whether the problem is with our schools or our overwrought parents?

    The fact you posted this on facebook and then used your calculator is a lie…I hope.

    “To the uninitiated, I bet I sound nuts.” Indeed! I am “initiated” and sound and are….nuts.

    You are making mountains out of molehills and I feel guilty validating this absurd post with a reply, but alas, I had to.

    Get over it and yourself. If you are this worked up over this small issue, I assure you, your kid has more things to worry about than a wrong answer on a math quiz. She’ll feed off of your anxiety and paranoia and either wind up with a drug problem or run as fast as she can to get away from the insanely competitive, fear mongering environment you are creating….or both.

    Save your daughter and yourself. Unplug and stop worrying about “high stakes”, top schools, scores and all the other distractions you somehow convinced yourself is the formula to be successful. You can’t live life your way and enjoy it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yikes,

      I decided to read a few of your other posts. Any way to get my comments taken down and off the site?

      This is one of the more disturbing blog sites I have been on in a long time?

      I hope you get help one day…i’ll pray for you.

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      1. No – he’s just one of those people who have to make mountains out of molehills and likes to hear himself talk. He also finds things wrong with everything. Ignore him.

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    2. Clearly your ability to read and comprehend is flawed. You may want to return to elementary school and work on those skills since you couldn’t find the underlying message within this post. She clearly states that she isn’t worked up over this one simple mistake, she is however, worked up about the entire idea of these tests that change a child’s, and the teacher’s life in school. This is all coming from a student by the way. So until you have walked in our shoes, I would like to ask that you stop having an opinion.

      Liked by 4 people

    3. Quite frankly, Redonk, you’re an a$$. We’re all hoping YOU get help for your narcissistic self-love and superiority complex.

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    4. This issue was not about HOW she solved it as the teacher didn’t count off for the HOW. but the fact that the answer key was WRONG!!!! Maybe this is part of the problem. People who don’t read things & reply with a legitimate answer. Please see the article again.

      Liked by 1 person

    5. Redonk, so do you work for Pearson or just not have kids.? I’m a teacher. My school has been an “A” ranked school since this ridiculous plans’ inception. Until this past year…. We missed it by 1 point. One. I did not get a bonus as a result. (Which matters considering I have not gotten a standard step raise in 4 years.) We have lost our bragging rights. And worse, our students feel they have let us down with that one point. So the idea that Pearson, the end – all, be – all of student & teacher success is not 100 percent right all the time rubs me the wrong way. The President, State Legislatures, and counties want 100 percent of students to achieve x, y or z – which any math mathematician will tell you is inprobable, if not impossible – yet they defer to a company that can not get a 4th grade practice question right. While that question being wrong may not be Earth shattering, it is a very good indicator that these tests which everything from graduating to livelihoods hinges on, are flawed and perhaps need closer scrutiny.

      Liked by 2 people

    6. Just the fact that you are comparing this article to drug abuse and child abuse is ABSURD. For your info, the only way to have a good life is to get a good job. And the only way to get a good job is through college degrees (not even college degrees, they want people with doctorates and masters instead of bachelors). I hope you get help one day (with your ignorance)… I’ll pray for you.

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  5. With the money Pearson makes and the command they have in all things education, you would think they could get the answers correct. Scary the blind faith our politicians and educrats have in this company.

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  6. You’re not nuts. As a fourth and a fifth grade teacher, I can confirm that Envision Math is riddled with incorrect answers, ambiguous questions, typos, and contexts that are inappropriate for the age of students it is aiming at. My students and I are the editors. Thank you so much for posting just one example of many reasons we should be able to see the high stakes test questions and answer keys. The Envision math NEW Common Core lessons to supplement the existing curriculum wasted so much of my time to simply access! And my students and I recognized questions and lessons from the pre-Common Core curriculum with “the names changed”. Wow. We are allowing these publishers without an editor and without public review to prevent young people from graduating, to evaluate and certify teachers, to grade schools, and to make kids think they are stupid!

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Yes, there is a problem with the common core tests, the ones that we never see and have no idea who is grading. I whole heatedly agree that practice is wrong, evil, awful. But I shudder when I read these kinds of posts because it VALIDATES the crap we want to actually get rid of. If a teacher graded and returned 25+ tests and didn’t analyze the results and noticed that a lot of kids got #6 wrong, that poorly reflects on the teacher. If the teacher gave a test and never did the questions herself first to make sure the questions were good and reasonable that’s laziness and again reflects poorly on the teacher. But what it does instead is encourage Pearson et al. to keep going. “See? (They’ll say). Teachers don’t know enough to find basic mistakes, we need to trust them less and less. More scripts, more control taken away”… Yikes! Be careful what you post. I see this one as exactly the kind of example Pearson would use AGAINST teachers.

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    1. The teacher did check her answers after she realized people were getting it wrong. In fact, the author states that the teacher told the afternoon class. I do not think it is lazy for a teacher to believe that an answer key provided is indeed correct. Frankly, working efficiently is an important trait when you are a teacher. Consider having 25 students. If each writes an essay and a teacher spends 5 minutes per student, he needs 125 minutes to grade an essay. Therefore, if the teacher decides to use an answer key to use her time more effectively elsewhere, that makes sense. Remember, most of a teacher’s school day is spent teaching. His or her after school hours are spent grading and lesson planning. Figuring out how to quickly grade some items is a must. Plus this teacher realized the mistake and was planning on fixing it.

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    2. The tag line for the teaching profession should be “Where you absolutely never get the benefit of the doubt, no matter what.” Dear God, I wonder if you’re as hard on yourself when you commit a minor error based on oversight. The teacher did notice, then explained and apologized. Imagine teaching/managing 20-30 early elementary kids as a full-time job. (No seriously, imagine it. But if you’ve never done it, you really can’t empathize, can you?) Then tell me that during that time you’d never make any minor mistakes. Oh, she didn’t see that one earlier?! Shame!! Laziness!! Incompetence!! Teachers are subhuman filth!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Or 150 students a day at the middle and high school levels. If I have several students get the same question wrong, whether I use someone else’s test or make my own, I will go back and double check the answer key. We all make mistakes. I tell my students if they catch me in a math error during lecture I will award them one extra credit point on their next assessment.

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    3. The point is that if the system recognised and respected the teacher’s professional skills, she would have been setting her own test and would have double checked her own answers. The teachers have had even day to day tests taken off them, so if they aren’t even given credit to set their own grade appropriate curriculum and tests to check their students’ progress, why should they have to second guess the private company tests? The curriculum will have cost quite enough, so it should have to be correct.

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  8. Things like this would statistically even out over time if the errors are that frequent; I seriously doubt your child’s place in the percentile range is in jeopardy. And as one commenter noted, some of this is on the teacher to double-check the key when they get a lot of students missing a particular question. I do this all the time in my own class. I don’t even trust my own keys when I see scores on particular questions that are out of whack.

    As a parent and a college prof, I can tell you it’s better to teach your child to think critically about the material and even learn from others’ mistakes on things like answer keys so they’re ready for the real world in which things change overnight and people screw up all the time. I can always tell my high standardized test achievers in class. They often have no ability to think creatively and are unable to deal with setbacks like someone else getting something wrong; they obsess over grades because they equate that with learning. Teach them to think critically and be accepting that mistakes sometimes happen. They’ll get further in life on that principle than they will on any kind of exam.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You’d like to think that, wouldn’t you? Unfortunately, to get a high-paying job (anything above $75k), you need to attend a prestigious school; to attend a prestigious school, you need to perform well on standardized tests. According to your comment, to perform well on standardized tests, you need to abandon critical thinking and acceptance of anything less than perfection.
      This is a panoramic problem within the educational world today.

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      1. I’m sure Harvard will be more than happy to take your money either way, but this is a complete crock. My husband makes more than that, and I make nearly that, and we went to state schools. Nothing special about either of us, just worked hard and got lucky. Neither of us majored in STEM, neither has higher than a bachelors. (And we are both terrified that having kids will afflict us with the same Chicken Little syndrome you seem to be suffering from. What happened to just trying to raise moral, law abiding and productive citizens who are independent and for the most part happy?)

        I missed a full scholarship–everything paid–yo aforementioned state school by one ACT subscore point. I did just fine. The children who deserve to do well regardless. Not saying we shouldn’t hold these companies accountable–we should. But not because one wrong question will make the difference between little Johnny digging ditches and presiding over board meetings. We should hold them accountable because they are receiving our tax dollars, and are technically employed by us. We should demand this transparency as a means to a less corrupt corporate and political climate. These things will have much bigger impact on kids, and if we focus on them, the accuracy of keys will take care of itself.

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  9. It’s not just high stakes for the students. Teacher evaluations (in my district) are now based in part on test scores. So are monies that each teacher receives based on Prop 301 (Arizona). What was once a set amount, is now based on test scores too. I’m a special area teacher so 50% of my monies are based on classroom teacher scores.

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  10. Why in the world do professional educators have to rely on Pearson or any other textbook company to come up with appropriate tests and answer keys? I teach logic and philosophy at the college level. I make all of my own tests, and I can certainly create a correct answer key for the logic tests.

    I can also use my vast knowledge of the subject matter to grade the essays in my philosophy classes. This reliance on test banks, answer keys, rubrics, etc. is simply treating the teachers and professor like ignorant children who need help doing their job. Personally, i find it insulting to all teachers.

    Finally, I completely agree with the main point of the article. These testing companies have provided very little evidence that they are actually competent at creating accurate assessments of our children. We should eliminate most standardized testing and send these companies packing.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. As of now, I’m also able to create my own materials, including worksheets and assessments. I pity anyone who has had this creative freedom taken from them! I constantly improve and amend my own materials-and I actually enjoy it as much as I enjoy teaching it. I could never be as good a teacher if I didn’t love and take pride in doing my own work. How could I lead my kids to love something if I didn’t?

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    2. From your comments, you teach on the college level. I don’t think that elementary teachers have that luxury to make up their own tests since everything is so standardized. Also, the college professors that I had in college taught 3 classes a semester. So 9 hours of their week was teaching. They had time to create their own tests, do research, etc, A 4th grade teacher has to teach ALL the subjects for 4th grade and may not even get a grading period during the day. The books they need to teach from may change every year. So if the teacher had a new math textbook to teach from, she would have to do every single problem assigned and every single problem on the tests to make sure that she is not grading them wrong if she uses the answer key. Anyway, just another perspective.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Just FYI – I know you weren’t arguing against the post. Just wanted others to see another perspective and to show that as great as it would be to allow teachers to come up with their own tests, it really isn’t doable in the elementary school grades.

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  11. I’m with you! Making a mistake on an answer is clearly an attack on the future of our nation. I believe everyone employed by Pearson should be charged with terrorism and sent to prison…. FOR LIFE!!! After that, we should call in an airstrike on their headquarters building. That will teach these institutions not to make mistakes on answer keys.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I find it ironic that while you are complaining about the careless mistake of Pearson, you write a sentence like this one…..”The are the days of high stakes testing.” Notice something wrong oh champion of perfection??????????

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unfortunately, Pearson’s mistakes don’t get edited. Pearson’s mistakes are in the high stakes questions and answers that children face annually and that determine student test scores, school ratings, teacher evaluations, and the graduation (or not) of young people.

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  13. Calm down everyone. On standardized tests, they have a good idea of how many people they expect to get a question right. When a statistically significant number of students get a question wrong, they generally reject the question outright and ignore it in grading. These organizations do not catch all their mistakes but they aren’t stupid enough not to realize it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ethan… no!!! We can’t calm down. Don’t you realize Pearson exposed these poor children to an incorrect answer???? Don’t you know how much of a crisis we have on our hands???

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  14. The multiplication is correct but the answer is wrong. Perhaps the teacher could have given partial credit but not all tests have that option. Not even gonna get into whether it was suppose to be common core or not but it is wrong. The question specifically asks “how many miles” The answer is not labeled in miles so I would have said it was wrong also. Parents that don’t know math and think math is stupid should not be allowed to complain about math.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Meh I retract my statement. And that is a great example why you should read more before you jump to conclusions. Cause then you yourself often look like an idiot.

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    1. You understand now that the answer key had the wrong answer, and no one is checking to see if the answer key is correct, or if the questions make sense, on the high stakes tests written by the same publisher as the math curriculum (Pearson)?

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  16. Textbooks always have mistakes in them. I found one yesterday. Actually, the answer was correct in the hard copy, but the online version was wrong. But I can remember even as a kid that sometimes an error was found. That is why there are other editions. Mistakes get corrected, a new edition is printed. Humans are not perfect and humans are the ones that develop the media used in life.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I am a college student and use Pearson in my Econometrics course. We have both homework assignments and quizzes due in this class, and sometimes the two ask the SAME exact question. But the correct answers given are DIFFERENT. They can’t get their answer keys straight.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, you just hit on the problem of the advantage that select students have. If a school district adopts the Pearson curriculum, those students may actually see problems on the high-stakes tests that they saw in the curriculum! Students in school districts without Pearson’s curriculum are seeing all the problems for the first time during the high stakes test!

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  18. I dealt with this very problem when I taught 4th grade math. It’s on a worksheet for a lesson on 2 digit by one digit multiplication. Clearly, there is a mistake in the way the problem is written. I noticed it, and had my students skip the problem.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Back when I was in tenth grade (mid-1990s), there was a mistake in the big annual state-required test (Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam). I don’t think it was “high-stakes” testing for students at that point, though it probably counted for something towards our school’s state-wide evaluation.

    One of the physics questions showed a ball in an parabolic arc and asked at what point the acceleration was zero, with options marked at five points along the trajectory. The answer should’ve been “none of the above”, but the test-writer either meant velocity or wasn’t familiar with first-semester physics, and that wasn’t an option.

    I went up to our guidance counselor (who was proctoring) and asked what I should do if there was no correct answer – he told me that was impossible and just to answer it.

    I did (with the obvious “wrong” answer that they wanted), then ripped the page out of the test booklet (which we were required to return) and gave it my physics teacher, who ended up showing it in a talk at a national physics conference. Of course the guidance counselor found out what I had done and I got yelled at a bunch. I always wondered what they did about scoring that question – was the mistake ever noticed by somebody who mattered?

    It look like the state used “commercial shelf [sic] tests that included ACT’s EXPLORE and PLAN assessments as well as the SAT-8 series developed by The Psychological Corporation of San Antonio, Texas (now known as Harcourt Assessment)” back then.

    Mistakes like this definitely do happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Dear Ms. Sarah Blaine:

    I came to your site via Curmugucation, which I recommend to anyone who wants to understand teaching nowadays. First, I want to say to anyone writing a comment here saying, “So what? It was just a practice test.” to please recognize that Pearson has been given the entire contract to make the tests that every student in the whole country will take. Of course, then schools will also buy the practice materials from them. So the reality is that this is the curriculum for the entire country. It’s an astonishing amount of money: billions of dollars, hundreds of billions of dollars. All of it is public money. The public has the right to expect that they are getting a quality product, but there is no public accountability.

    Oh-guess what? So far we’re pretty much OK. So far, your concern is just about a Math problem with a “hidden part” students had to discern. If the problem had a clause reminding students that there are 7 days in each of the 26 weeks, not as many students one would be getting the answer “78” (which is probably the most common wrong answer.) But little errors like this are not even taking into account religious or or political bias that could find its way into the tests. See this:

    “God made the world: a.) in the beginning, b.) in six days and six nights, c.) because He was lonely, or d.) in prehistoric times.”

    “The Civil War began because a.) The Southern States were denied their States Rights, b.) the slaves rebelled against God’s Natural Order, c.) the North was aggressive to the South, or d.) Lincoln was a tyrant.”

    Oh-and I forgot marketing…

    “In this story, Kyle wanted a Coke with his dinner because a.) … “

    OK, yeah, I’m exaggerating here. It would be more subtle than that. But, maybe not. How would anyone know? Parents, teachers, school administrators, school boards, even legislators- no one in the public is allowed to review the questions before or even after the tests are given. We’re being asked to have faith that the tests in one area aren’t different – easier, harder, than in another area, or graded differently. We’re asked to take it on faith that no one could be bribed or coerced to make it that way. We are also asked to take on faith that information about students revealed in the process will not be sold to someone to market to those students. It’s a private company that has your child in it’s grip.

    I looked at all the comments and I am in accord with Laura. Parents can stop the tests by opting out. Teachers cannot do anything. In the normal flow of things, teachers love their students and students love their teachers. In another post, you said that you cried all New year’s Day when you read about a beloved student killed in Iraq? Every teacher who teaches for even a few years knows the student who broke their heart. I know who it was. Like it was yesterday, too. Teachers want to stop this testing abuse but they can’t. They sign away their right to do this in order to work. Please Opt Out and advocate for Parental Opt Out.

    Thanks! Keep up the good fight!
    Leila

    P.S. A Special Shout-Out to CCProf … What? You didn’t get the news item that Pearson is now designing an on-line version of your course? Hope you’re near retirement age and you’ve paid attention to your retirement account.

    P.P.S.A Special Shout-Out to CCProf… made you Google it, didn’t I? You would be surprised how unimportant your “vast knowledge” might be to corporate reformers who target your profession to take your job from you. Yes, “We should eliminate most standardized testing and send these companies packing.” What’s your plan?

    P.P.P.S.: A Special Shout Out to Chickadee Deedee: WOW.! How Special! We all wish we were you, huh? What is the purpose of your post?

    P.P.P.P.S. If you are a parent reading this, go to your window, open it, and shout, “I’m tired of this and I’m not going to have my child/children take these tests anymore!” Then Opt Out. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Dear Ms. Blaine:

    Oops! it is “its” not” it’s” when I wrote “it’s grip.”! Would you please edit this for me while you are moderating it? Thanks!

    See how beneficial it would be for Pierson to have people check their stuff?

    Leila

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I teach 5th grade in TX and we are using the TX version of EnVision. There are SO many mistakes in it, it’s incredible. Math mistakes and spelling mistakes. A whole lot of money given for a crappy product. We SHOULD be worried.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Wow! I keep coming up with misteaks, mistcakes and mistakes. If I was Pearson, I would hire extra editors. Then people would calm down and let me indoctrinate the young.

    Leila

    Like

  24. After reading this I am appalled that someone could make such a big deal about nothing. Yes, they may administer tests that do have deterministic effects on your child’s life. However, like you said this exams are widely administered, therefore they would quickly become aware of a mistake like that on an exam as so it could never have an negative impact on your child’s results. This “problem” you had is actually exactly the same as a misprint in an answer key. There are so many other problems with standardized testing and the fact that you chose something as stupid as this to comment on really shows how unaware you are….

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I’m a private test prep tutor on the side and chuckle every time I see an incorrect answer in the answer sheet. The most egregious offender in the market is Princeton Review, especially on their GRE material. I took the GRE back in October of 2011, so I was one of the first to take the revised GRE. Princeton Review’s 1017 question bank had well over 50 wrong answers on the math, and ~30 wrong answers on the verbal. 3 years later, the problem persists because my student using the 2014 version also ran into many incorrect answers on the answer sheet.

    For companies trying to profit in the “high stakes testing” scam, they need to do a better job and put out better products.

    I actually ended up running into one of the question writers for Kaplan’s GRE/SAT math back in 2012. He told me people working for these companies don’t really care about the job and jumps ship when a better opportunity arises (most stay for 2-3 years, tops). With this kind of mentality, it’s hard to not have mistakes in the answer key.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. I don’t know if it will make you feel any better, but as an “assessment professional” this isn’t anything you need to worry about. After 1,000 students take this test, data will show that EVERY SINGLE STUDENT got this question wrong. This will raise a huge red flag with a nerd somewhere, and they’ll flag the question for a human to review. That human will find the bug, and the question will be pulled. So NOBODY’S answer will matter at all.

    Basic testing and grading. We watch for outliers, see what causes them, and — if necessary — discount the results.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. What concerns me is why didn’t the teacher go over the test when she handed it back? I always recall my teachers going through each answer, explaining why it was that answer. And if anyone didn’t understand, they could raise their hand and ask the teacher why they had the answer wrong. It’s the teacher’s responsibility to show their students why they got the wrong answer. Not just throw a test back at them with x’s all over the page. What are they learning then?

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Why does Pearson not allow people to see the tests and answers? Why the secrecy when so much is on the line? The concern comes from the “high stakes” and not revealing the questions and answers. Pearson’s curriculum and assessments used in the classrooms is riddled with errors. The concern is that the testers have no oversight given that we know there have to be errors. Pearson has not earned my trust that one of their nerds will prevent errors in the scoring.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s not a Pearson thing to not release the tests – it’s a Government thing. The government opts to development the test once. If they release the questions, they will have to pay another company to develop more.
      And I always thought that Pearson Assessment was separate from Pearson Curriculum? Did you even check on that?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ” the New York Post and Daily News reported that the Pearson-developed New York State ELA sixth- and eighth-grade assessments included passages that were also in a Pearson-created, “Common Core–aligned” ELA curriculum. This meant that students in schools that purchased and used instructional materials from Pearson had an enormous advantage over those who didn’t.” Read more at http://edexcellence.net/commentary/education-gadfly-daily/common-core-watch/2013/pearson-crosses-a-line.html

        Like

  29. I wouldn’t be so confident that there was a highly paid/qualified team editing this. These are private companies and it’s all about money. Even in the textbook industry, editing jobs are being scrapped, and the ones left are overloaded with work and definitely not paid enough to put in the hours they need to ensure a quality product. We used to find simple grammar mistakes and spelling errors on practically every page of our $300 law textbooks. I’m sure Pearson spends way more money selling their products than insuring their accuracy.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. There is a disconnect between those coming up with the curriculum and children. The curriculum seems to have been written by people who have no children, have never taught and, possibly, have never spoken to a child. There are some who like CC and use the “higher thinking” buzz words, but unfortunately, CC has taken out all flexibility of teaching out of the classroom. Not every child learns the same way and or grasps ideas using the same formula. Having the flexibility to show students a variety of ways of coming up with the same answer is key to not only engaging children in their education, but also preventing them from being discouraged for forced concepts they are not ready to learn.
    I am also concerned about incorrect answers in the curriculum. With the start of CC, it is my opinion that the textbook industry has scrambled to be the first to have their curriculum available. There are teachers who are piecing together work, because there are school districts that have yet to purchased a curriculum.
    Someone is making money on. It is happening. Multi-billion dollars will (are) exchange hands in the process of implementing CC. With that much money on the line, hire a good editor.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Everyone needs to see the film “Race to Nowhere” about the insanity of the testing requirements that have taken over our education system. Just released, it’s currently screening on PBS and available for purchase. http://www.racetonowhere.com/ “Shown nationwide and internationally in more than 7,000 schools, universities, cinemas, hospitals, corporations and community centers, “Race to Nowhere” has become the centerpiece of a nationwide, grassroots movement for the transformation of education.”

    Liked by 1 person

  32. SERIOUSLY?!?! Someone spent all this time writing this ridiculously long, stupid, pointless blog post complaining someone, somewhere made a mistake?The horror! Only thing worse was the 5 minutes off my life I wasted reading this. Guess what? At some point in his life, the president of the company I work for made a mistake. And he makes even more money than some editor at Pearson’s since apparently income level determines whether you can make a mistake our not. Big whoop. We’re all human and learning from our mistakes and mistakes of others are a part of life. Get over it and move on. Sheesh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think the point is that someone made a mistake, I think the point that there are blatant mistakes on the parts of the educational materials that we can see and there is are bound to be mistakes on the parts not open to the public. There is secrecy surrounding the testing, but is is looming over our kids. Whatever happened to transparency? We expect it of our school board, our city councils and our state and federal leaders, but we don’t expect it from those providing the educational materials and foundations to the next generation? What are they afraid of? What scares them about being scrutinized?

      Like

      1. Secrecy??? Really??? Bahahaha! Yes, they must be a part of the educational materials mafia. “Shhhhh…..don’t let anyone know, but we purposely made the answer incorrect. And if anyone comes asking questions, lie. We can’t let anyone know and we don’t want to be scrutinized.”

        Like

  33. I’ve worked in the world of standardized testing, and known textbook and test editors myself. The commenters posting about the low pay and ridiculous workload are more than correct, and while that may not seem a valid excuse for some, it is in fact, life. Human error is a part of life and these editors are HUMAN. Due to this fact, there are statistical analyses done on each test, and all the answers provided. If a single question comes back “wrong” on a statistically unlikely amount of tests, which one would assume would happen if a mistake were made, the test administrators go back, look at the question and determine if there was a mistake. It is usually then stricken from the test, meaning it does not count toward the grade. The only time this would not work is if a statistically significant amount of students mark the “right” answer (aka the one in the book) which is in fact wrong. In this case however, those students would be receiving positive credit toward an incorrect answer, something I haven’t heard many people complain about…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s ironic that a math test is the subject of a complaint that shows little understanding of either the inevitable likelihood of wrong answers despite the diligence of editors, or the statistical methods that are used (fairly effectively) to compensate for those errors.

      Liked by 1 person

  34. For anyone interested, who has an investment in school math, be it worries or praise for the common core, or any topic, I urge you to read “A Mathematician’s Lament” by Paul Lockhart. Only 140 pages and you could get through it in an afternoon. Great stuff about MATH curriculum and instruction in general.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. Don’t forget that we can also opt our children out of these nonsense high stakes testing! They can be opted out of every test through their primary and secondary schooling. They do not have to take one test from pre-k through 12th grade. It is a long and very difficult process, but possible!

    Liked by 1 person

  36. The online system for that program is terrible, especially for college students.
    At my local college, even if the answer was correct, if you “input” it wrong, it would constantly tell you you have the wrong answer, and you drive yourself nuts because since you’re not that great at math, you have no way to tell if you’re correct, but the teacher won’t confirm or deny your answer because “you have to figure it out for yourself”.
    What happened to your teachers being the ones to double check your answers? And for the ones you had wrong, what happened to them reviewing it with you?
    For TWO semesters, I was forced to take the remedial class which required us to complete the 9 modules Pearson has; what a waste of my money.
    Not to mention, the teachers themselves don’t even know how to work that program, let alone explain how it’s wrong!

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Pearson did make an error on the specific quiz question in a lesson in the Envision Math textbook and we sincerely apologize for this mistake. We corrected the error for future editions of Envision, but failed to adjust the question in editions currently in the field. We owe it to our students and teachers to ensure these types of errors do not happen in the future, and are committed to adapting new protocols to fix mistakes before they happen. Trust in our products and services is key and we have to earn it every day with students, teachers and parents.

    Thank you,
    Brandon Pinette
    Pearson

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Brandon,

      I simple apology does not suffice. I want to see heads roll within Pearson… I want you to personally go remove the incorrect editions from each classroom in America ( I don’t care about other countries)…. I want Pearson to pay for therapy for these children who have been traumatized by this humiliation. After these actions are complete, we can discuss an apology.

      Like

      1. Sorry the first sentence should say “A simple apology”… see what Pearson’s mistakes can lead to??? That was Pearson’s fault.

        Like

    2. Your apology is not enough. This child’s confidence in her math ability was harmed by your mistake. Apparently, you do not understand the importance of that. As a former teacher I have personally seen this kind of thing happen to a child, and it’s almost impossible to repair. Pearson has lost the public trust, and your apology is weak and un-convincing. Pearson does not deserve to be trusted with our children’s futures.

      Like

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