Saturday, February 24, 2007

Canal Locks and Education

A section of a canal or a river that may be closed off by gates to control the water level to enable the raising and lowering of boats that pass through it.

While having breakfast with my parents, my dad looked up from reading the paper and said "I don't understand how this article says kids are getting dumber. I thought test scores and graduation rates are going up. How can this be?"

I then proceeded to tell my dad about the subject I know best--the NYS math A regents. I asked him what he thought the passing grade was. He said "When I went to school, it was 65." I told him it has been changed. "80?", he replied. My husband then chimed in "Not even close. To pass the Math A regents you only nee about 36 out of 85 points (or 42%) and you can get graduation credit with an even lower score."

It took a while for an 85 year old man to get the whole picture. He finally realized that education today is like being in a canal lock. You just lower the water level to let the boats pass through.


Anonymous said...

While Math A is history (this June and August, then next January and June, and I think that's it) it will be interesting to see where they set the passing grade for the Integrated Algebra exam. Probably around the same place.

This would be so much easier if they hadn't taken away the RCTs from most students. Now they force everyone to take Regents, and since those who should be doing RCTs instead can't pass, they lower the score for everyone, essentially making them meaningless.

Of course the content of Math A makes it pretty close to meaningless anyhow. Looks like Integrated Algebra will at least be an improvement in that respect.

Pissedoffteacher said...

Since no one knows what the Integrated Algebra will be like yet, I have my doubts about it being an improvement.

CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

I was appalled to realize that a passing score for some of the teacher certification tests in California are in the 60% range. That explains some of the colleagues I encounter...

Anonymous said...

They've got some of it on line, and there are some decisions made. They are keeping the 2 point open response questions, which burns me up. No high school teacher, as far as I know, thinks they are appropriate. There is no choice. Graphing calculators are required.

If you really want to read, you can (I've read, but I would have survived just waiting for the tests)

Here's some useful links, if you want to plough through the stuff:

NY State Ed: Watch out for them - they are trying to claim that nothing has changed (to avoid admitting have screwed up royally). Skip their protests, and just go for the content.

There is useful stuff scattered across their site, but that link goes to their listserve, where you get to hear and share, as you like, information, queries and complaints with teachers from around the state.

Outside of our immediate suburbs, the rest of the state math teachers have much more in common with us than I would have realized.

Pissedoffteacher said...

I heard that they won't even have percent equivalents until October. This is going to be another Mickey Mouse production. I think I might be gone before they come into play.

Anonymous said...

You are right, forgot that. They call it post-equating. In other words, they know how many kids they want to pass - and that will determine their standard.

That's how the geniuses set the Math A scale: they post-equated the first year when schools kept their weaker kids working towards Course I. So when Math A was finally mandatory for everyone (June '03) the scale had been set for stronger kids... and they failed in every school across the state (not just in NYC, where they wouldn't have cared). So they panicked, threw out the results, and set a new, super-low scale.

Mickey should sue you, by the way. It's McGraw Hill, I believe, who si running the show.

Pissedoffteacher said...

how about Prentice Hall? they seem to have a major stake in this too.

Anonymous said...

Prentice Hall will likely pick up the NYC book contract.

Once upon a time they had a really weak series: Algebra: Tools for a Changing World, Geometry: Tools for a Changing World, Alg 2/Trig : Tools...

New York starts Math A, and publishers scramble. What can they do?

Prentice Hall knew what to do. They put new covers on their "Tools..." series. You now know them as PH Math A, PH Math A/B, PH Math B. They added some NY-specific front matter, but that's it. Same books, new cover.

So guess who already has an Integrated Algebra, Integrated Geometry, Integrated Trig series? That's a lot of new covers! And I bet the City buys the books, even though the content will only be tinkered with. Smart schools will try to pass on the new math books, since they are almost the same as the old math books, and try to move the money. I bet the Board makes that impossible.