Saturday, September 07, 2013

Algebra II

In our Thursday meeting our math department discussed Common Core standards for several courses, including Algebra II, and some of us expressed concern that logarithms aren't even in those standards.  What is an Algebra II course without logarithms?  And since our CSU/UC's require Algebra II as an admission requirement--with the expectation that logs will be covered--aren't we setting up students for failure (or at least for remedial math in college)?

Serendipitously timed is this posting from Joanne:
Passing Algebra II no longer shows mastery of algebra or preparation for college math, concludes a new Brown Center report, The Algebra Imperative...

It’s not just algebra either. “There is very little truth in labeling for high school Algebra I and Geometry courses,” Jack Buckley, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, told Education Week.
The public, and the universities, blame me and my colleagues for this.  I didn't write these standards, and I'm not trying to force 7th graders to take teddy-bear, watered down Algebra 1 (although genuine Algebra 1 should be available for those who are capable).

Update, 9/13/13:  I have a 2002 copy of the Entry Level Math test and, to my surprise, there are no logarithms on it!  One worry down, although I'm going to check with CSU just to see if their current version has logs or not.


dmjole said...

And English standards can't be much better, I predict...if my experiences with college freshmen are any indication.

Auntie Ann said...

At the end of the day, it's going to be the colleges that fix Common Core, but not until they make a bigger stink about the number of students enrolled who require massive remediation. Of course, as long as those students are paying tuition, and paying for 6+ years, they don't really care about their quality.

Perhaps it will be the science faculty that will begin screaming, but they'll just recruit more foreign students to fill their classrooms--and since foreign students usually pay full tuition, they are preferred to domestic students anyway.

So...I guess I just disproved my point. We're screwed.

elaine c. said...

Your trainer didn't actually read very carefully then.

Common core is designed to have students move past rote learning (mathemagics) to conceptual understanding (mathematics).

Rote learning is an important early step... But it should NOT be the ending step. Unfortunately, because of the way the current standards are set up, many teachers stop at rote - probably because they are spending some much time on remediation(seriously.. Check you algebra book. The first 5-6 chapters are content that is ALSO taught in pre-algebra.) And/or worried about the kids passing the state tests.

Over the last two years of teaching common core to my math students, my numbers of high proficient/advanced CST scores have jumped dramatically. I had *5* students who didn't score 75% or better on the algebra exam, and geometry was almost that good. (The cohert of kids before I started at my school Was scoring below state and district averages, to give you an idea of why I was hired!

Common core helped us go up to a 932 api score this year.

PeggyU said...

Not to be a snark, but does correlation actually imply causation here? Are there other factors that might be at play as well? Has the CST been altered recently? Have other teachers who have applied Common Core practices seen similar results?

Mr. W said...

I have gone in the opposite direction in my classes. I give multiple choice tests and weekly quizzes that are right or wrong. None of this "the journey is more important than the answer". And since I have done that my score have been 10%+ higher than they rest of the school.

elaine c. said...

I don't give multiple choice tests unless I have no choice. I call them multiple guess...

I require students to show work, not so much because process is important, but because I need to know their thought process. (It also helps identify cheaters...). I analyze their work to determine where the misunderstandings etc. Are so that I can reteach effectively. Multiple choice doesn't tell me that.

If the problem is wrong, it's wrong. I also don't give partial credit. Forgot a negative sign? Oh well. This zero will help you remember better next time! After all, if your surgeon had good process but bad results, you'd be unhappy/dead, so get the right results!

I'm the only one in my district really doing common core right now, so I don't have other teachers to compare against in that respect. (There is only one other math teacher at my school... And he only teaches Alg II. Our students then take precalc and higher at the JC.)