Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Algebra NOW symbolizes broader issue

From the Sacramento Bee


Does anyone ever consider variation in the human population in these broad sweeping edicts?


Anonymous said...

This is one more example of media failure - this article simply covers too much to be of any use to a casual reader.

For instance, why is it important that algebra be a requirement for eighth grade students? There are excellent reasons, but none are explained by the author.

If it were a requirement, what curriculum currently in use would fulfill that standard? Again I would argue that none of our current choices meet the standard, yet this is not discussed in the article.

To make this article even harder to comprehend, you have

Jack O'Connel (D) who created the California High School Exit Exam against raising standards because it will increase the drop out rate which according to this new study has been under-reported.

Adopting the eighth grade algebra standard has been in the works for over a decade. Is that doable? Yes, but not with the DOE's recommended list of textbooks.

what could be done to make the curriculum work?

1. Stronger elementary curriculum
2. Textbooks must be comprehended by English dominant minorities. What works for this group, will work for all students. This has been thoroughly proven and documented. This can translate into content reading strategies, SDAIE, or BCLAD combined with using traditional textbooks (Califronia's strategy). Singapore would be a less costly method and wouldn't require teachers modifying the content (time saver).
3. Direct teaching methods
4. Standard sequence of traditional, mainstream topics.

I agree with O'Connell, you can't put the cart before the horse. Prove something works, then make it work, then make the requirement. The other way, you've failed before you succeeded.

I think a closer look at High Tech High's math results will show just how bad our current math textbooks are. Those folks should be listening to parents and not just be shrugging their shoulders, saying oops we dropped the ball.

Charter schools aren't any better than public schools. The difference might be enthusiasm but that does not imply working harder makes you smarter, at least if you use US textbooks, like Core, IMP, EDM, ...

College Preparatory Math matches most closely with Singapore. Course 1 Algebra is designed for eighth grade. This is the only one of the DOE's recommended programs that does so.

Main drawback is its grades 6-10. However, a grade 10 student is thoroughly prepared for more advanced math, like math analysis or pre-calc. You could easily take physics in the 9th grade which is a standard in most civilized countries (except in the US).

Anonymous said...

The fact that there is human variety only makes the arguments of critics seem even more idiotic.

Are not children and teachers in Singapore as diverse as children or teachers anywhere else in this world?

Are there not poor parents in this world and not just in America?

We should stop focusing on standards for content and behavior (values-based) and start looking at what companies want, what parents and children expect, and which curriculum (only one) can stand and deliver.

This is not difficult, because the curriculum, including standards, has already been written. This is a problem about optimizing one's use of the classroom. Not a debate over values clarification.

This is more like asking what is the best operating system for a computer? It isn't Microsoft, yet we all agree that it is, because we all use it. That is what is meant by a socially-constructed truth or a step closer to creating a myth and one of the conditions for a myth to exist is that it provides a convenient model for answering questions.