Thursday, October 1, 2009

End-of-course: algebra pilots in Kentucky and elsewhere

Last year, Kentucky students participated in two math test pilots, joining four states for an Algebra I test and thirteen for an Algebra II assessment that is also intended to gauge readiness for college math.

The results, freshly released by Achieve (here), provide a remarkably blunt assessment of where the participating students and states stand. EdWeek summarizes:
More than four-fifths of students in all participating states wound up in the not-prepared category in Algebra 2. Massachusetts had the highest share of students scoring in the combined well-prepared and prepared categories, at 19 percent, though fewer than 600 students were tested. North Carolina was among the highest-scoring states, with 18 percent of its 2,551 tested students scoring in those categories. Indiana, which tested more students than any state, saw 17 percent reach either the well-prepared or prepared mark.

Minnesota, which has fared well on federally administered tests, had only 6 percent of students in the top two categories, though only 1,164 students were tested in Algebra 2.

In Algebra 1, Achieve judged students’ performance in four categories: “advanced,” “proficient,” “basic,” and “below basic.”

Of the four participating states, Kentucky had the highest percentage of students reaching proficient in Algebra 1, at 21 percent, though only 520 students took the test. Rhode Island, where 2,416 students took part, had just 8 percent reach proficiency. At least 54 percent of students in all four states scored below basic.

That sounds to me like a test that isn't sugar-coating our national situation on mathematics. It sounds like the blunt facts, bluntly stated, giving us a clear sense of the uphill effort we're beginning to get all students ready for college or work in future years.

Mind, I think it can be done. But doing it will surely require big shifts in how high schools address mathematics, backed up by elementary and middle schools with a far more effective approach to providing the student foundations.

1 comment:

  1. I've had some interesting conversations with college freshman amazed that they are learning PEMDAS (order of operatons) in their college level math class. That's in both community college and university classes.


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