This was the title to a letter to the editor that caught my eye.
"The examinations for high school graduation now sound like a college-entrance exam instead ..."
"Keep business math and general math plus general science in the curriculum for those students not planning careers in math and science."
It struck me that schools are screwing it up at both ends of the spectrum. They don't provide the needed education for those who want a technical career as an engineer or scientist, and they don't provide a proper education for those not wishing to go to college. All kids are told that they will earn so much less money if they don't go to college. Somehow, technical schools and trades get lost in the discussion. Even the Achieve organization is doing workplace studies that show that everyone needs Algebra II.
I don't agree.
The workplace studies were based on a self-serving evaluation of what kinds of tasks each job needed. These tasks were translated into a specific course in a traditional math curriculum. They did not look at exactly what math was needed to get the certification or degrees required for each job.
Schools want more rigor, but they get it all screwed up. Instead of fixing up and adding rigor to basic K-8 math, they try to impose some sort of false rigor in high school, which is usually translated to algebra I or algebra II for all. (not to mention capstone projects and portfolios) The more capable students don't get what they need and the rest get courses designed to prepare them for community college. Many just drop out of school. I can easily see why many kids think that high school is a joke.
We have a well-regarded technical school in our area and if kids can survive high school, they will find a wonderful sense of reality there; something that is completely missing at our community colleges.
I'm all for setting a goal of a proper course in algebra I for all by 8th or 9th grade. This keeps all doors open. After that, the math curriculum needs to offer courses based on specific educational needs, not vague concepts of rigor or workplace analysis. Educators love real world problems, but they can't seem to apply it to themselves.