kitchen table math, the sequel: Wu: Arithmetic to Algebra

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Wu: Arithmetic to Algebra


I was just taking a look at the link, and it reminded me of the time C. asked me, "Does algebra have numbers or only letters?"

I remember posting that question & laughing about it; then Tracy W explained to me that that was a correct question/observation....


SteveH said...

I've mentioned this paper before related to the non-linear or discontinuous jump that usually occurs between 6th and 7th grades. Only the best students or those who get help at home (or with tutors) will make this transition. K-6 math curricula set lower expectations (lower slope) and schools just don't see that or they just don't care. They are caught up with vague things like conceptual understanding and problem solving. Then they turn around and give students a skill-based math test in 6th grade to determine which math track they will get on in 7th grade. Schools should put sample 6th grade tracking tests on their web sites so that parents won't be surprised when it happens. Maybe they will start to see that many K-6 math curricula just don't get the job done.

Catherine Johnson said...

Schools should put sample 6th grade tracking tests on their web sites so that parents won't be surprised when it happens.

I agree

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see such a sample test. Does anyone know of a district that does this?

le radical galoisien said...

Why start fractions so late?

lgm said...

Re: sample test Every district has its own qualifications to determine who is admitted to the honors or accelerated program.

My district doesn't have a specific test to get into 7th honors math. There are no published criteria for parents to view as there are in other districts (google and you'll find many). According to guidance: The pool of students considered are all those who acheived a 95 or better grade in 6th grade math.

Students are then ranked according to:
1. their state test scores for all previous years (the current 7th grade is the first NY cohort that had yearly state testing)
2. their grades in math for Gr. 3-5
3. the gr. 6 math teacher recommendation
4. CogAt score for math and nonverbal
5. teacher assessment of motivation - getting help at home does not count, active member of math club does not count, but frequently using the school help session does

Starting at the top, the class is filled in. To stay in the class the student must achieve an 85 or better grade, or they will be dropped at the quarter.

Note grading is brutal thru middle school - formative assessment counts as much as summative in our experience. 6th is the first year numeric grades are given in the system. The only way I've seen to 'get the grade' when one has a poor teacher (particularly one who can only teach to a verbal learner) is to do the course the summer before and/or use a file. There is simply no time to reteach to mastery every night (in order to get the grade on the pop quizzes), given the rest of the homework.

Also note that much material necessary to score the '4' on the yearly state exams are not covered in class. One must tutor one's child. Even a 'mathy' child won't pick up the necessary nomenclature without exposure.

Probably needless to say, this approach does not lead to spectacular math acheivement. Calculus is not even offered on the high school campus.

Tracy W said...

What did I say about algebra? I don't recall this at all.