Saturday, June 16, 2012

Meaningless Exam

I got a chance to see the Integrated Algebra Regents today and , unfortunately I was not surprised at what I saw.  As usual, the students only needed to get 15 multiple choice questions correct to pass.  For anyone unfamiliar with scoring that means 30 out of 87 points or 34.5%.  That's right, eenie, meenie, minie, moe gets the kids passing grades.  Put this together with an AP who insists all kids learn how to guess and check with a calculator and you can only imagine how little these grades mean.

What struck me most about the exam were the number of questions that required no algebraic skills.  There were  question on bivariate data, surveys, functions.  There were scatter plots and set theory questions.  Two multiple choice questions involved the Pythagorean Theorem.

I always told my students that a good foundation in algebra was the secret to doing well in math forever.  Math would never be a problem if they could use signed numbers, solve an equation and factor.  This exam could be passed knowing none of those things.  Most high school kids lack the maturity to understand the value of mastering these topics when they are not on the test.

Next year this kids will go into a geometry class.  Good luck getting them to do number problems when they have learned nothing in algebra. And heaven help the teacher who will get them in trig, if they make is that far!

CUNY has been having problems getting kids through the first credited math class and has raised the minimum score needed to avoid remedial math. Even  a grade of 80, which is 56 out of 87 which is less than 65%.

I heard an algebra teacher telling her students how proud she was of them for doing well.  I appreciate the work she did to get them to that point and she should feel pride in what she did, but not in what they did as they know almost nothing.

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