kitchen table math, the sequel: speaking of Bill Gates

Saturday, March 10, 2007

speaking of Bill Gates

I hadn't actually read the 8th grade math test in the TIMES when I posted the jpg of the sample problems.

Now I have.

It's worth posting in full:

March 7, 2007

An 8th-Grade Test, 180 Degrees From Easy


With butterflies in their stomachs, New York State’s schoolchildren sit down this week and next for their annual mathematics tests, given in grades three through eight.

The eighth-grade exam, to be given next Tuesday and Wednesday, is an important measure of academic achievement, showing whether students have sufficiently mastered the material to move on to more advanced work in high school. Students entering ninth grade far below proficiency in math and English are at grave risk of dropping out.

The state’s math standards require eighth graders to develop an array of problem solving skills, to recognize reasoning and proof as fundamental aspects of the subject, and to communicate their mathematical thinking clearly. Eighth-grade math includes a range of algebra and geometry skills.

Below are questions from last year’s exam. On that test, 53.9 percent of students statewide scored at or above grade level. Some of the worst scores were in the state’s largest cities, with 17 percent scoring proficiently in Buffalo and 38.9 percent in New York City. In relatively wealthy school districts, 82 percent scored at or above grade level.

The entire exam and tests in other grades can be found on the New York State Education Department Web site:

Can you do eighth-grade math? Good luck.

Reading this back-to-back with the p-for-pumpkin extravaganza foisted upon us by the TIMES this week, I despair.

What is the matter with these people?

butterflies in their stomachs?

an array of problem solving skills?

algebra and geometry?

Those poor children must be petrified.

So I guess testing is the problem.

Not the fact that a 1st grader now entering the month of March thinks the word "pea" might be "pumpkin."

Nor the fact that journalism is one of the last remaining majors on Earth that does not require the most elementary knowledge of math or statistics.


No sign of butterflies in these parts.


Eightteen percent of students in wealthy districts score below proficient??


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