Thursday, December 10, 2009

Once Again, Mr. AP and I Disagree

Once again, Mr. AP is telling us our regents grades must be in line with our class grades and that kids who don't pass the regents should not pass the class. He just sent out a memo berating teachers who passed geometry students that failed the regents. I know I am at the top of his hit list.

Here are my thoughts about having the correlation he would like.

The regents is an easy exam. The kids that don't pass it, for the most part, are the kids who don't belong in a regents math class, the kids who years ago would have taken all the pre-algebra and non regents classes. They just don't have the ability to learn higher level math. But, by sitting in our classes and passing the exams we give, they are learning something, more than what they would be learning if they were in some other class. Although I haven't checked all the data, I believe that kids that repeat because of the regents end up in a cycle of constant repetition and never get to move ahead. I see no benefit in making the kids I taught last year repeat geometry. By moving into trig or into some other math class, they are being exposed to other math that might help them in college. If they fail an easy exam like that one, they probably are not headed towards an advanced diploma and will probably need remedial math in college anyway.

Then again, there are kids that cannot master geometry but will do very well in intermediate algebra and trigonometry. I've spoken to quite a few from last year and the ones I pushed ahead seem to be doing fine. There really is no crystal ball to predict success or failure.

We've been told to assess our students on a daily basis and that is what we do every day with exams, with homework and with classroom observations. I believe I've done that and that I've done a good job of it. By making the regents omnipotent, we are being told that our assessments are valueless.

The regents is one exam. It is an exam some students find extremely stressful. Some are studying for four exams at the same time. Most high schools do not hold to these standards and it is not right to treat our students differently. The regents standards are so low anyway, what difference can a couple of points possibly make?

(Picture in honor those colleagues too chicken say anything that might be deemed controversial. A "friend" told me today that I can say whatever is on my mind because of my proximity to retirement. A real "friend" would know that my mouth never stayed closed, even when I was many years from retirement.)


mathman42 said...

And if they don't show for the Regents they automatically fail ?

Why not a non Regents geometry class ? There's no advantage to passing two Math Regents. It's one or all three that matter.

burntoutteacher said...

And the idiocy is just the opposite in my school -- if a kid passes the regents, regardless of seat time, we have to pass him for the class. Complicating the problem is the fact that the English regents is not a test of a year's worth of material. It is a more general test (such as it is -- easy, much too easy) of reading and writing skills. Using the illogic that kids who pass the English regents have mastered the material and should be given class credit, then they should be given credit for 11 grades of English.

Even truants' grades are being changed by the administration if they happened to come in to the exam and pass. There is something very very wrong about this and of course the union is useless.

Does anyone at Tweed know the real definition of "rigor"? I know my principal doesn't have a clue. (Literally -- he includes accountable talk and turn and talk as evidence of rigor.)

Ed in the Apple said...

1. Regents grade of 75 or over on the 2nd Math Regents correlate highly with college success.

2. Interim/predictive assessments and the availability of prior Regents items should predict Regents success with a high degree of predictability.

3. Kids who do pass course and failure Regents can be cluster into classes in a successor math course that both preps for the failed Regents and moves forward with new topics.

4. A math course every term, even a non-Regents course is quite important for college success, i.e., a course in Sports Data, etc., not taking math for a year or two almost guarantees college failure

Pissedoffteacher said...

Peter, I agree with everything you wrote. The kids who can't pass the regents are not going to be successful in college and there is no point in making them retake the same course over and over again.

mathman42 said...

Yes Peter, there is a Santa Claus; in Burnout's school. I also agree with your observations and have been ( generally unsuccessfully ) trying to implement them in my school. We created some of those alternative math courses, had great success, and of course they have been eliminated by and large.