Sunday, January 25, 2009

Math Graduation requirement -My thoughts

I've been in vehement opposition to Advanced Algebra as a graduation requirement.

The State Board of Education is in favor of this. Superintendent Dorn is not.
First let me state that a certificate of achievement stamp should be placed on the diploma.
This lets those employers or colleges who care so, to determine if the kid learned much in k-12.

It seems to me that if a kid can not pass an Algebra I test in spring 2010 they should not get the certificate.

If a High School can not bring a senior to algebra I competence in grade 12 during the 2009-2010 school year, it is likely the kid does not know much arithmetic.

I think that requiring Seniors in 2011 to have passed both an Algebra and a Geometry test is very reasonable.
If this prevents Spring 2011 graduation with the certificate then the student should learn the stuff during summer of 2011 and pass the tests to graduate with the certificate.

If integrated math is doing the job teaching the important stuff, 12th graders will know this stuff.

The really big difficulty with math education is .....
years of social promotion of unskilled students at all grade levels.
I would also eliminate the statistics portion of the Algebra I standards, which have Zero to do with Algebra and move the "additional key content to Advanced Algebra" where most of it belongs.

If we are expected to raise current students to Algebra 1 proficiency, we need to focus on that task. The Statistics is an unneeded an unnecessary distraction from accomplishing the task of teaching the students algebra.

One step at a time .... let us show we can actually accomplish something before enlarging the task. Waiting beyond Spring 2010 for even a minimal math requirement seems like an ill advised plan.



Anonymous said...

I'm one for supporting no changes until the state has adopted one unified curriculum (k-14) that yields satisfactory results. Lets see graduation rates and enrollment numbers go up. Lets see if we can get more homeless teenagers off the streets and into school first, before we create more hurdles. I'm all for reforming schools, but lets leave the kids alone. They've had there fill of BS.

Public schools have not provided adequate evidence that they can educate all kids. Far from it, school officials have set new records in arrogance and incompetence.

A stamp on a diploma saying this person passed the algebra portion of the WASL is inconsequential and kind of moronic. Why does Washington have to be first?

How many years did this person take mathematics while they were in school?

Most employers have an entry level math exam anyway, because they don't trust high school teachers or students either. Grades and test scores are two measurements, but no employer relies on just those two indicators. Even a cashier should have an ability to use numbers in their head.

dan dempsey said...

I do not think that the state needs one curriculum. I think the state needs a set of standards that resembles clear specifications. My trust that the state could adopt one curriculum that was in any way adequate is very low. Field testing and data analysis would be required and that takes time. Education seems to be all about hurrying into the next big mistake.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data. ----- have you seen any evidence of this during the last decade of education for math achievement?

Professional Development that produces no positive results continues.

The belief that best practices are being taught persists at districts. When in reality the only thing that could be considered a best practice is the use of example based instruction.

Anonymous said...

"Developing curriculum takes time and....we always seem to be in a hurry to change."

This is where the reform movement stopped making sense. They had the time and resources and unluckily for them, things went from bad to worse. States have reformed standards how many times? NEVER has a revision resulted in an improvement in student academic achievement. Even the NCTM is at a loss for words.

Singapore is one curriculum and the standard. Why can't the US do that? If you want to end social promotion then schools have to end tracking.

Anonymous said...

Your policy position (multiple curriculums aligned to one state standard) matches too closely with the opposition's tactics. That is why this ruckus gets painted into a war between academics and parents. If you want to gain popular support then cut out the confusing parts involving committees and alignments and use a curriculum model like Singapore that works!

A strong centralized department of education focused on designing a curriculum similiar to Singapore's, complete with exit exams makes much better sense, it would be impartial, and it breaks a stalement that's been going on for decades.

I would get rid of every part of the WASL except for the math portion. It would give you a better indicator of school achievement than any other subject.

Anonymous said...

I'm still thinking this reluctance by some Republicans to be rid of the WASL has something to do with Heritage College and the Adventist Online Learning Network (Walla Walla).

The state is heavily invested in technology that is worth billions in contracts. Computerizing the WASL will increase profit margin (built at taxpayer expense) but its not likely going to reduce costs substantially.

Dorn's deal is a compromise. Senator Hewitt didn't need to bend over a second time.

dan dempsey said...

Anon said:

"I'm one for supporting no changes until the state has adopted one unified curriculum (k-14) that yields satisfactory results."

Have you checked the state's ability to select anything that works?? (as in yields satisfactory results) Hell may freeze over before the above happens.

Politics seems to trump actual sound mathematical planning at every corner. It appears that the folks think that persons who actually know mathematics are not needed. Then those with some math connections are sometimes compromised by NSF funding connections. Check UW's pushing of IMP the worst text series that OSPI reviewed .... but great stuff according to UW's Dr James King. The fact that Cleveland has horrible WASL scores over the last two years with IMP does not even seem to phase these IMP zealots from UW.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of the relevant data.

Health warning: Do not hold your breath waiting for that intelligent application.

Anonymous said...

The state has to made to understand that teaching algebra begins with the textbook and most of a student's future in education rests with the math track that they graduated from. Not everyone can be an exceptional teacher, not even in Singapore, but an exceptional textbook helps in any classroom.

The reform divas should stop making excuses for their stupid textbooks. The issue is not about math curriculum, its about access to superior curriculum. Why can't we just say Core Plus is contributing to global warming and give it a deep six.