A Short Note on the 2011 New York State Math Test

Jose VilsonResources

The worst part about being the math coach (besides the internal politics about whether or not I should have to proctor exams when I’m better served in the hallways) is feeling primarily responsible for how well students do on this confounded math test. The best part is when students approach you with a question that you didn’t think you taught and found out that you did in some roundabout way.

“Mr. Vilson, you know that one with the U-shapes?”

“Yeah, the parabolas. I think it said, which graph represents the equation y = -2x² – 8?” [Not the real equation]


“Well, which one did you guys pick?”

“I know it was either B or C. [both of them were negative parabolas, or u’s facing downward for the innumerate]”

“Yeah! I picked C, but I’m not sure.”

“Well, let me ask you, if there’s a negative in the first coefficient, which way is the parabola going to face?”


“Good. And then think: if it’s -8 at the end, is it going to be at the y-intercept, is it going to be up eight spaces or down eight spaces?”


“Then I think it’s C.”

Hi-fives and groans abound. I didn’t get to do parabolas much because my class struggled so much with solving equations, but I did it for two days, mainly out of boredom with the pace of the curriculum. Every teacher in my school thought the test was harder than last year’s, but fair compared to last year’s exam, a calamitous crank of an exam.

Let’s hope Book 2 fares better.

Jose, whose feet hurt.