Local News

North Carolina Textbooks Score Low On Accuracy

Posted May 14, 2001 8:06 a.m. EDT

— Children and teachers and parents trust the information in school textbooks, but that could be a mistake.

When Glencoe Publishing sent a biology book to North Carolina schools, publishers left out a phrase. The omission made the explanation of a molecule incorrect. Three pages later in the same book, there was another critical mistake.

Southeast High teacher Abby Stotsenberg avoids relying on textbooks in her U.S. History classes after she found errors when teaching middle school in Hoke County.

"The questions at the end of a section did not match the text," she says. "Students had ... a horrible time trying to find the answer. The answers were not there."

North Carolina is the fourth largest state purchasing textbooks, spending more than $58 million a year on them, in spite of the mistakes. The state school board is looking at using that clout to make publishers certify books.

Wandra Poke, North Carolina textbook coordinator, says the process would involve publishers saying "I have reviewed this book, I have had experts to review this book, and I certify that this book is error-free."

The school board may also have North Carolina teachers review books for errors. Teachers WRAL talked to object because they say that is the publishers job.

"I think they definitely need to be held accountable and responsible for the errors they make. The rest of us are," Stotsenberg says.

The state may also fine publishers who continue to let their books slip by without the facts.