Thursday, July 05, 2007

Does High School Math Prepare You For College?

If I had to answer that based on the results of CSU's Entry Level Math test, I'd say no. Apparently they're getting similar results in Pennsylvania. Their reasons seem different from ours, though.

Students are heading to college less prepared for math than they were a decade or two ago, forcing colleges and universities to rewrite textbooks and add more review work and remedial courses.

Math professors in the Lehigh Valley laid the blame on integrated math programs that don't emphasize basic skills, high-stakes testing and the push to give students higher-level math courses at increasingly younger ages.

Has the curtain not fallen on those failed so-called integrated math regimes yet?


David said...

The shots at "high-stakes testing" seem like a smokescreen. The only way to know if something is working is to measure it.

If the tests used by the state aren't adequately capturing the knowledge of conceps necessary for college math, then the professors should lobby to improve them, rather than sniping at the whole idea of testing.

Darren said...

I agree.

Next thing you know, standardized testing will be said to cause global warming.

Mike said...

Testing, in all circumstances, has its limitations. High stakes testing on the high school level cannot be used to predict potential college performance in math, for example, because that would so change the nature and focus of the tests so as to ensure that far more students would fail and would therefore not graduate from high school. It may be worthwhile to remember that high school serves important social as well as academic functions, and that it always has. The schools may well be overloaded with social rather than acaedemic functions in ways that were most likely not the case decades ago, but that is our current reality.

We might also want to keep in mind that we have made it possible for increasing numbers of kids to attend college, kids who in the past would not have attended college. We should hardly be surprised then when more students entering college are not intellectually or developmentally prepared for college level studies. It's likely, in fact, that many of the kids attending college these days are not truly intellectually up to the challenge.

I am not suggesting that they are stupid or that the can't be succesful and productive citizens, just that not everyone has the intellectual capacity, or interest, to attend college. We can't all be average, but isn't college for the above average? Or at least, wasn't that the case at one time? Yet, when we pretend that everyone can and should attend, we end up with the current state of affairs where the first year of a student's college journey may be full of remedial courses, and one wonders how much dumbing down is taking place in college. After all, if say, 50% of kids entering a given school never graduate, that doesn't look terribly good for the institution, does it?

And no, standardized testing doesn't cause global warming, Al Gore causes global warming.

rightwingprof said...

Actually, Al-Gore causes global cooling. Google Gore effect.

Mike said...

Dear RWP:

Well, he certainly causes global annoyance in any case.

Anonymous said...

Has the curtain fallen on integrated math?? Are you kidding? Not only has it worked it's way into so many school districts, it also has invaded the "high-stakes" tests.

Longmont/Boulder, CO

Ariztophanes said...

"Curtain fallen on integrated math?"

Hardly. What else are you going to do with all the 9th graders who don't know their multiplication tables?