Friday, August 15, 2008

One Size fits all for 3 billion dollars

We're supposed to have 100 percent of kids take algebra in eighth grade, and be proficient,"

California's schools chief warned Tuesday that the state would need to spend an additional $3.1 billion to meet a new mandate that all eighth-graders take algebra by 2011.

Now the race is on to get California's 6.3 million public school students prepared for the more rigorous requirement.

"If one really believes that every single eighth-grader should take algebra and be proficient in it, then an investment of $3 billion is not that substantial," said John Mockler, the former executive director of the California State Board of Education. "Education improvement is not an elevator ride. You have to take the stairs."


There is quite a collection of opinions following this article in Mercury News.


Anonymous said...

This is unfortunate, I can't agree more. California has some very competent administrators and behind every solid math program is an equally capable administrator.

Algebra in the eighth grade for disadvantage students is possible, but it has to be done correctly - you can't just throw money at a problem (look at Fuzzington, an exceptional failure at reform) Unfortunately, the teachers and administrators capable of doing such a thing aren't leading California. You can't do it with strong arm tactics and it takes years of planning (about 7 years to do it right).

Anonymous said...

One size fits all doesn't matter so much as the curriculum (I presume you are referring to the standard. California has been teaching algebra informally to middle school students for over ten years.

One comparison - look at Latinos enrolling in colleges in San Diego County as opposed to Latinos in Seattle. Look at the difference in test scores. It might be interesting to compare students in Mexico City as well. Seattle (and Washington) are far below average.

Anonymous said...

This is commentary from John Mockler and I think this is a behind the scenes sort of person that helped with revising California Standards in 97.

The criticisms about California continue unabated and for good reason since California lawmakers rejected the reform stnadards or what some have started calling the 'structuralist approach' to learning mathematics.

College Preparatory Math (CPM) should not be maligned with the rest of the DOE's 'exemplary' curriculum.

It is most similiar to Singapore in terms of aligning to standards and their approach which is very straightforward and the goal to have eighth graders proficient in formal algebra is the same.

Furthermore, UC Davis curriculum writers recognized early that students were starting their textbooks without the necessary background skills, like algorithms for operating with fractions and irrational numbers. They were weak in using the decimal system for goodness sake. Reform mongers are ignoramuses for not recognizing these critical deficiencies that children had.

Don't be a propagandist for math reform, you'll be labeled an accidental freak of nature.

What about OSPI? My point exactly.

Anonymous said...

Simple and straightforward. Did I say that? What a concept. What if math were that way in school? What if kids weren't required to already know algebra before they took an algebra class. What if students had textbooks they could enjoy and read? Mathsmores are no better than a shiftless, bunch of doffers.

Stop blaming teachers because you can't write a simple textbook.