kitchen table math, the sequel: Education: Preparing Americans

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Education: Preparing Americans

I'm concerned that WEAK Common Core Math Standards
(especially regarding "authentic" Algebra 2) will diminish our students' preparedness to achieve their personal goals.

Here's why..

Adelman, C. 1999. Answers in the Tool Box: Academic Intensity, Attendance Patterns, and Bachelor's Degree Attainment.
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.

In the "selected findings" section, you'll find:
"Of all pre-college curricula, the highest level of mathematics one studies in secondary school has the strongest continuing influence on bachelor's degree completion. Finishing a course beyond the level of Algebra 2 (for example, trigonometry or pre-calculus) more than doubles the odds that a student who enters postsecondary education will complete a bachelor's degree"

The Toolbox Revisited "Reiterations" [p. 108]

First, there was a story about curriculum, the content of schooling, that was compelling in its secondary school dimensions in the original Tool Box, and is even more compelling now on both secondary and postsecondary stages. What you study, how much of it, how deeply, and how intensely has a great deal to do with degree completion.

Second, this curriculum story, joined by nuances of attendance patterns that turn out to have significant leverage, continues into higher education.

It’s not merely getting beyond Algebra 2 in high school any more: The world demands advanced quantitative literacy, and no matter what a student’s postsecondary field of study—from occupationally-oriented programs through traditional liberal arts— more than a ceremonial visit to college-level mathematics is called for.

The Toolbox Revisited: Paths to Degree Completion from High School Through College


Catherine Johnson said...

What does everyone think of the standards?

concerned said...

I contributed to the high school portion of the United States Coalition for World Class Math review (March CCSI draft)

available here:

Nothing has improved, in my opinion, in the June CCSI release.

In particular, from the June release, you'll find on p. 57

The high school standards specify the mathematics that all students should study in order to be college and career ready. Additional mathematics that students should learn in order to take advanced courses such as calculus, advanced statistics, or discrete mathematics is indicated by (+).

All standards without a (+) symbol should be in the common mathematics curriculum for all college and career ready students. Standards without a (+) symbol may also appear in courses intended for all students.

[Now, would you consider the following standards "stem" only or typical Algebra 2 content?]


High School Algebra -
7. (+) Understand that rational expressions form a system analogous to the rational numbers, closed under addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division by a nonzero rational expression; add, subtract, multiply, and divide rational expressions.

High School Analyzing Functions -
7. Graph functions expressed symbolically and show key features of the graph, by hand in simple cases and using technology for more complicated cases.

(+) Graph rational functions, identifying zeros and asymptotes when suitable factorizations are available, and showing end behavior.

Erin Johnson said...

So far, state standards have done almost nothing to improve the state of math instruction in our classrooms. So why does anyone think that the CCSSI math standards will do what the multitude of state standards (the good, the bad and the ugly) have failed to do: enable improvements in student learning?

If the CCSSI are good enough to prevent the use of awful programs (e.g. TERC et al.) then perhaps there might a tad bit of good. But is there any chance that a school will look at the CCSSI standards and say that they should use Singapore math? Unlikely. So why wouldn't we assume that: CCSSI = More of the Same

concerned said...

That's exactly why I have to wonder if it was EVER really about improving education.

Morning Bell: Prolonging Education’s Race to the Bottom, June 11, 2010

But unlike the federal takeover of the banking and health care industry, this time around Obama and his liberal allies are shrewdly avoiding another public fight by moving their education agenda forward without even going through Congress. The administration is supporting a move to implement national education standards, using the $4.35 billion Race to the Top grant program to secure those ends. National standards will give the federal government – not parents – more power over education. Now, instead of petitioning their local schools boards for curriculum changes, parents will have to trek to Washington to lobby D.C. bureaucrats for input in the content taught at their children’s school.

SteveH said...

"What does everyone think of the standards?"

They are focusing on the wrong end - high school.

"The world demands advanced quantitative literacy, and no matter what a student’s postsecondary field of study—from occupationally-oriented programs through traditional liberal arts— more than a ceremonial visit to college-level mathematics is called for."

The world doesn't demand anything. Careers demand something, however, and you can look at job requirements and work backwards. You don't do a "workplace analysis" to come up with some sort of pseudo-algebra II for all standard. I'm not sure where they came up with this line of thinking. Working backwards, it closes career doors for many students and tortures others to meet a vague set of algebra II goals. It provides no pressure to fix the problem of K-8 math.

On the top end, standards already exist; algebra in 8th or 9th grade and the AP calculus track, even if you never get to calculus. It's clear, however, that the CCSSI standards are trying to improve the lower end, and they do it in a very bad way.

So, the standards don't fix K-8 math and they provide no help at the top end in high school. They just torture students who were screwed up in K-8.

concerned said...

It's my understanding professor Hung-Hsi Wu called common core “the best standards that [he has] seen in the past twenty years.”

On the othere hand, Professor Milgram argues that common core’s math standards aren’t as rigorous as California’s. They would leave students unprepared for the state’s goal of having students take Algebra I by eighth grade and, according to Milgram, two years behind much acclaimed Singapore – an assertion that common-core drafters dispute.

I'm a high school teacher. And it appears to me that high school CC is just a repeat of Algebra I, leaving out essential topics (like that noted above) in Algebra 2.

Readers can compare CC to NMAP Algebra, which encompasses Alg I and II.

Erin Johnson said...

With all due respect to Wu, the standards mean relatively little compared to curricula and instruction. So even if he believes that the standards are good, it really doesn't matter much to the teachers (particularly K-6) who continue to use the same ineffective materials and methods.

Publishers are great at finding ways that their ineffective materials match the standards. In every book I see, there is a lesson by lesson explaination on how this program matches the standards, regardless of the programs effectiveness or competency.

SteveH is right in that this focus on high school is a huge mistake. The Algebra - AP Calculus track is the college track. What is missing from the standards movement is the curricula and instruction that would enable more students to be successful with that track. Does anyone really believe that dumbing down an Algebra class will still qualify students to be successful in college?

Allison said...

--With all due respect to Wu, the standards mean relatively little compared to curricula and instruction. So even if he believes that the standards are good, it really doesn't matter much to the teachers (particularly K-6) who continue to use the same ineffective materials and methods.

Wu makes exactly this point. The standards are, say, 20% of the work, and 80% is implementation: how teachers are taught to implement it, how texts are written, how testing is done. If those doing the above three know as little about math in the future as they do now, it'll all be for nothing.

I'll get a pointer to the talk he gave about this in a day or so.

VickyS said...

Years ago, Minnesota had the "Profile of Learning" standards which were fuzzy fuzzy fuzzy. Other names for these types of standards are "performance based" and "show what you know." Everyday Math was adopted in St Paul and touted as exquisitely aligned with the standards.

Then, our legislature did a complete aboutface, and put in objective, content based standards which are the envy of many other states (and I have read that MN will not be adopting the CC math standards, only the English standards).

Guess what soon appeared: a curriculum map matching the various new standards with the EM curriculum. To this day EM is still held up as aligned to these very different and much improved standards.

So much for curriculum changing in the face of improved standards.

When MN was adopting the latest version of our relatively good math standards, I asked what kind of mechanism was in place to monitor and ensure that the standards were actually implemented via curricular change. The answer was that each district did it their own way and there is no oversight or accountability. The only connection between the standards and the curriculum, apparently, is how well the kids do on state tests.

And that brings up another point. Standards should inform not only the curriculum, but the assessments. Even with good standards in place, a critical piece is making sure the assessment reflects the standards. This is where games can be played, and the drafting of assessments, if not given the proper oversight, can be a way to keep circumvent objective standards and may lean toward the fuzzy side.

concerned said...

VickyS, You make a great point that "Even with good standards in place, a critical piece is making sure the assessment reflects the standards."

On the flip side, if the standards are WEAK and the assessments do indeed reflect them, the result could be an overall decline in learning...

I ran across this recently on MN

Erin Johnson said...

"standards are, say, 20% of the work, and 80% is implementation"

The standards are more like 0% of the work and instructional materials, teaching and testing are100%.

The problem with standards is that they are used to support bad programs (VickyE's example of EM is very characteristic), without providing any support for developing or testing better math programs (e.g. Singapore). Even worse, some of the standards can be so convoluted or mistaken that they can detract from a coherent program.

So we have this mistaken notion that somehow the content of the standards will somehow improve our schools. We put all our efforts into making sure that the standards are of high quality and yet there are *no* mechanisms or techniques to develop and test better curricula and instructional techniques.

States with weak standards have not always experienced a decline in student learning. (Perhaps because standards really are ignored by all involved?) For example the FL standards are rated very poorly and the MA standards are considered very good. And yet over the past 10 years the percent improvement of the 2 states (NAEP) has been about the same; minor small improvements. So if poor standards caused a degrading of student learning, wouldn't we have seen this in FL?

So why are we wasting so much time, money and angst over the content of the standards when even the best of the standards have yet to show any effect on improving student learning?

VickyS said...

So, to ask the question point blank, is there any evidence that improvement in state or federal standards causes, or even correlates with, improved student performance? Do better standards ever trickle down to the classroom level? If so, how long does it take?

Glen said...


What a great comment about your experience in MN. Here in California, we have now had Milgram's state standards, perhaps the best in the country, for a few years, and during those years Everyday Math has taken over district after district, spreading like a foot fungus.

I have to admit, I still don't understand the politics of it. Parents all over Silicon Valley are howling about it, yet the school boards never seem to really explain why they choose EM. They often hold up grids showing topics from the standards and the extent to which those topics are covered by various curricula. EM covers everything, of course--in fact, they cover everything in every grade!--so they always qualify, but there never seems to be any discussion of why EM is considered the most likely to succeed at reaching the standards.

When parents demand an answer to this question, school boards mumble bits of this and that, that EM is "research-based", that Singapore Math "has no Spanish-language version" (whether the district has any math classes taught in Spanish or not), that "reasonable people can disagree, but a decision has to be made," and so on, but they always seem tight-lipped and evasive about how they actually made the decision.

You can't challenge their argument for choosing EM, because they never actually make one, but since they all seem to be reaching the same decision ("Let's go with EM!"), there must be something powerful that they aren't talking about that so consistently tips the balance in favor of EM. I just don't know what it is.

Is it that they feel the need to have a complete suite of student texts, teacher's manuals, classroom decorations, pre-made tests with answer keys, worksheets, etc., and there are very few such complete programs and, among them, EM is cheapest? Or is it that they are afraid that the teachers won't be able to easily handle something like Singapore and they care so much more about the comfort of teachers than about the parents who elect the board? Are they secretly threatened by the teachers' unions? Bribed by the publishers? Impressed by the pretty graphics? Do they feel unqualified to judge something as important as pedagogical effectiveness, so they look for superficial excuses to eliminate candidates until their decision is made for them (last one standing)?

In these decisions, state standards are reduced (at least publicly) to mere topic checklists, and the boards hardly even try to claim that their decisions are made on the basis of pedagogical effectiveness/efficiency, so there's something else that is the real driver of this decision. Until parents find out the real reason, we'll be left arguing points with the board that they only pretend are relevant, so even if we convince them, we'll still get EM.

Are any of you on school boards or close enough to a board member to know what is really going on?

VickyS said...

Our school board in St Paul does not make curricular decisions. All textbook and curriculum research and decision-making is done by the district's administrative staff, then summarily approved by our school board.

A few years ago I tried to figure out why on earth every district in the Mpls/St Paul area seemed to use EM, since they were supposed to be acting independently. Even the GT program in one of our suburbs, which used alternative curriculum in other subject areas, was forced to use EM.

Like you, Glen, I smelled something really fishy. The closest I ever got to a possible reason is that the U of M had one of these early NSF grants piloting the NCTM approach, and if I recall, the grant required buy in by at least 10 districts. But all that info is long gone and no longer easily available to someone just searching the web. And it doesn't explain the current stranglehold EM has on the districts.

I think once a district uses EM, it's very hard to move to something different. It's the opposite of a modular curriculum; you have to go whole hog. And it demands so much retraining of teachers.

I'm guessing (absolutely nothing to support this) that there is deep discounting up front, then some very onerous contracts which follow. It would really be interesting to hear from an insider on this.

SteveH said...

"You can't challenge their argument for choosing EM,..."

In my son's old private school, when he was in 5th grade, I loaned my Singapore Math books to the person in charge of selecting the new math curriculum. She was a very nice person and said that Singapore Math looked good, but that Everyday Math was "better for their mix of students". How can you argue with that?

It was then that I realized that all of their arguments about understanding and critical thinking were just a cover for lower expectations. How could a school not like EM? Just go through the motions and the spiral will take care of the rest. If kids don't learn, it must be their fault.

I mentioned once that this remined me of the old adage that nobody gets fired for selecting IBM. Nobody will get fired for selecting EM.

Glen said...

Nobody gets fired for buying EM.

Yes, it could easily be something like that, but I remember the IBM days, and I know WHY IBM was considered the safe choice. They were a monopoly. They controlled the standards. If you went with IBM, you could count on ongoing support; add-ons would be available; programmers and consultants would be available; you wouldn't end up with a business built on orphaned technology. You paid for the feeling of security.

EM doesn't seem to have the same positioning, because it's almost intentionally controversial. They could cut 90% of the controversy with superficial tweaks (go back to trad. algorithms, incorporate 15 minutes/year of Singapore-style bar modeling in order to claim, "Same program used in Asia by best math learners," and so on, if they wanted to win by inspiring confidence and security.

They apparently don't want to and don't have to, because they have something else that drives the selection committees switch to EM despite the complaints of parents and teachers. It still may be a sense of nobody getting fired for choosing EM but if so, I'd still like to know what factors make it such a safe choice.

I agree that, "better [than Singapore] for our mix of students," doesn't explain anything. Better in what way? For accomplishing what, exactly? What about this "mix" makes it so? If you had a classroom full of Asian-American children, would EM cease to be the best solution? To what extent are Asian children in Asia handicapped by not using EM?

Anonymous said...

I have to admit, I still don't understand the politics of it

top-down, top-down, top-down.
get back to work.

SteveH said...

I was at U. of Michigan when they broke from IBM and went with Amdahl. (Do you remember that, Barry?) However, Michigan had the resources to make it work. I suppose it could be the same with Singapore Math. A school would have to work harder to implement it than with EM in terms of training and support. This is not to say that the training and support with EM is effective, just that you can at least go through the motions. You can buy a total solution package from EM, but not with Singapore Math. I think that schools like to buy packaged solutions to problems.

" because it's almost intentionally controversial"

I see it as a marketing angle. It's their way of showing that they care about understanding, not just rote algorithms. That's a false argument, of course, but it plays well with the people who make the decision. It also says that the problems in the past were due to the curriculum, not the teachers and schools. I'm sure that angle works well too.

"Same program used in Asia by best math learners,"

I don't get the feeling that our schools look to Asia for inspiration. I think they like to see them as rote and uncreative. They kind of gloss over the fact that many of them are really, really good in math. The other argument is that US schools try to educate ALL kids, but they really only care about jumping through very low proficiency hoops. Unfortunately, some look at the questions on the NAEP test and claim that it is the "gold standard". In high school, everyone can point to the AP calculus track, but there is no model like that for K-8.

"...something else that drives the selection committees switch to EM despite the complaints of parents and teachers."

They don't care what parents think and EM is designed to appeal to the educational prejudices of K-6 teachers. If Singapore Math were bought by a major publisher with a sales force that is already in schools, then you might see some change. But then again, aren't some people saying that Saxon Math is now being watered down?

Since the time when the curriculum head told me that EM was a better mix for the students, I've concluded that K-6 schools set low standards for math on purpose. The talk of understanding and critical thinking is all just cover. The curriculum head at my son's old school saw that Singapore Math was too advanced.

I think that the College Board (not state or national standards committees) should define something like an AP algebra class for 8th grade (along with a test), and then define a sequence of classes that would lead to that goal. They could do this in all subjects, but math is the most critical. State and national standards committees are only able to define low end standards. Unfortunately, many K-8 schools like to confuse getting over a low cutoff on state tests as an indicator of a quality education.

Glen said...

If it turns out that these selection committees aren't driven by the same one or two overriding considerations but by a large cluster of smaller factors, then changing their choice from EM to something better by arguing against these ideas is unlikely ever to succeed. Even if you change their minds about an issue or two, you won't change their minds about everything, so EM still wins.

SteveH, what you're saying about so many of these issues rings true. I'd still like to hear from a committee insider someday, but for now, it appears that EM won't be beaten by arguments.

If so, only an alternative that becomes popular among, say, elite private schools would have a chance at changing things. If the public schools start losing large numbers of their best students for alternative schools (private, home school, etc.) because the alternatives are all offering some new-fangled, all-the-rage "Singapore II" or some such thing, and the media started accusing the public schools of "oppressing" their students by not offering what the elite schools offered, then the selection committees might suddenly find themselves losing interest in their own arguments instead of having to be talked out of them.

Of course, that's just the curriculum. Most of an Asian curriculum is in the minds of the teachers, who teach, not in the books they refer to. The elite competition would also have to emphasize the fact that their teachers have begun teaching again....

SteveH said...

"it appears that EM won't be beaten by arguments."

At the top of KTM is "They do what they do".

I've mentioned before that a few years ago (finally!) our middle school decided to offer the same honors algebra I class as the high school. After enough complaints from parents and math teachers at the high school, our lower school got rid of CMP because it clearly forced students to cross a big gap in curriculum to get to geometry as a Freshman. It took them years to solve a problem that was clearly defined.

Now the problem is the math track sorting that happens at the end of 6th grade. You either have to be a math brain or have help at home to bridge the gap to the prealgebra - algebra sequence in 7th and 8th grade. I don't think many parents appreciate that fact that curricula like EM cause the problem in the first place. They just assume that their kids are not good in math.

I know that our public schools are sensitive to kids leaving for private schools, but the private schools can be no bargain either. I know, and the local public schools have a home court advantage. My son hated to waste more than an hour a day on travel time, and that was minor compared to what some kids do.

As you move back to the lower grades, it seems that many more parents value the social environment rather than academics. Those who do value academics either send their kids elsewhere, of make up for it at home.

Bostonian said...

SteveH wrote:

"I think that the College Board (not state or national standards committees) should define something like an AP algebra class for 8th grade (along with a test), and then define a sequence of classes that would lead to that goal."

Would any of the PSAT, or SAT I, or the SAT II Math subject tests, or the ACT test come close to what you are looking for? I've read that the SAT I now covers some Algebra II topics, but one could still produce an Algebra I "subscore". An argument against the SAT I is that the questions are "trickier" than those of achievement test, but in real life algebra is not useful unless one can apply it to novel situations.

Bostonian said...

Another standardized algebra test is the CLEP College Algebra test .

Side question. AP tests are well-known, IB a bit less so, but CLEP is discussed much less often. Why does the College Board maintain both AP and CLEP exams? What is the difference between AP and CLEP?The Wikipedia says "the [CLEP] tests are useful for students who have obtained knowledge outside the classroom, such as through independent study, job experience, or cultural interaction", but one can take AP exams without taking AP classes.

SteveH said...

"Would any of the PSAT, or SAT I, or the SAT II Math subject tests, or the ACT test come close to what you are looking for?"

I haven't thought much about what the content would be, just the idea that some sort of third party would define and support a high level standard for K-8. There are things like SSAT, so it might be more of a critical mass or need issue. Kids who want to go to private high schools have to take things like the SSAT (I taught an after-school prep class for the SSAT in our public school two years ago), but these tests are completely off the radar screen for kids heading for public high school.

In our town, there seems to be two big tracking points. The first is the 6th grade math placement test for one of the math sequences in 7th and 8th grade. I thought there was something like that for Spanish (their only foreign language), but I think they still lump all kids together and try to get them all prepared for Spanish II as a freshman. I guess if you do poorly enough, you stay in Spanish I. If you do well in your grades, and get recommended by the teacher, you go to Spanish II.

For math, to go to geometry in high school, you have to get a certain grade in algebra I in 8th grade. Perhaps you can argue your case too. If you don't get the grade, then the middle school teachers will advise you into some other math course, depending on how much remediation you need.

The other key tracking decisions are made by the middle school teachers. That is whether you end up in honors classes, college prep, or the bottom level, for those who are at least two years behind. (mostly for kids with IEPs) Notice how there is no general phase or track anymore. If you are lazy or just don't care, they put you into the college prep group. When I was growing up, we didn't have honors or even AP classes. They just called it college prep. Now, you better be taking all honors classes.

In any case, these key tracking points all seem to happen without a lot of complaints by the parents or kids. I would expect more complaints to the school about why parents didn't know about these key points and why their kids were not prepared for them.

In high school, even my son and I wondered whether he should be in all honors classes. That is, until we figured out that college prep doesn't mean much anymore. If you call all kids above average (college prep), then you minimize complaints.

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

"Why does the College Board maintain both AP and CLEP exams? What is the difference between AP and CLEP?"
If you look at the list of CLEP subjects (, you'll see that they are mostly lower level than AP classes. For instance, in Science and Mathematics the CLEP tests are
* Biology
* Calculus
* Chemistry
* College Algebra
* College Mathematics
* Natural Sciences
* Precalculus
Note that "college algebra" and "precalculus" are both high school courses that are prerequisites to an AP calculus class. I don't know the level of the other courses, but I would not be surprised to find out that they were lower level than the corresponding AP tests.

rocky said...

Now, you better be taking all honors classes.

The sad part is when they "raise the bar" and require Algebra II to graduate, they take manpower away from teaching the kids who want to learn. Suddenly, instead of having a fast-track Honors and a slow-but-steady Algebra II, there is only Honors and the inclusive Algebra II that everyone must take. The middle kids pay the price.

Crimson Wife said...

"I don't know the level of the other courses, but I would not be surprised to find out that they were lower level than the corresponding AP tests."

CLEP and AP are aimed at very different kinds of folks matriculating at a college. AP is aimed at bright high school students wanting to impress Ivy League admissions offices.

CLEP is aimed at adults who've been out of high school a while. A lot of folks I knew who took CLEP exams had a year or two of college under their belts and wanted to finish up their degrees. They weren't taking the exam to beef up their applications but rather to shorten the time to earn an Associate's or Bachelor's.

I think there's a place for both types of exams.

lgm said...

>>The sad part is when they "raise the bar" and require Algebra II to graduate, they take manpower away from teaching the kids who want to learn. Suddenly, instead of having a fast-track Honors and a slow-but-steady Algebra II, there is only Honors and the inclusive Algebra II that everyone must take. The middle kids pay the price.

Depends on the district's philosophy. Middle and top kids are in single period, while the unprepared are in double period here. Inclusion is in their own section, because of the need to schedule the inclusion co-teachers. Top kids are in their own section because of scheduling as they are accelerated a year. The sad part is that the course content is the same for all...if a student wants the honors material, he needs to have an in-the-know parent with enough money to sign up for distance learning or purchase the appropriate textbooks. Or he can district hop.

The manpower here went to double period, tutoring, and academic intervention. The cost was all the nonrequired math classes..nothing is offered that isn't required for the diploma. This is actually a plus, as a mathy child can get true honors courses via distance learning (all at his own expense of course) for everything after Alg. II from a competent provider.

SteveH said...

"The middle kids pay the price."

That's exactly the case in our high school. A few years ago, they dropped from 4 levels or "phases" (?) to just three. They also pushed out the lazy and troublemakers from the lowest level. Rightfully so, I guess, they needed to work to bring the lowest level students up to minimal state standards.

I guess the upper-level students saw what was happening and pushed to get into more honors courses. This must weaken the honors classes a little, but it turns the middle level college prep classes into the big dumping ground.

The content in the honors classes and the college prep classes look about the same, but the honors classes are supposed to work harder and go into more theory and details. I wonder whether difference will be much greater. Do the college prep classes end up with no homework and more group learning because they have so many kids who will not do homework and need to be spoon fed? You can't flunk too many kids. If you get enough kids in a class who don't care, then you have to lower expectations or apply some sort of non-linear grading. It's not easy to do this in math.

lgm said...

The difference between honors and nonhonors depends on the class composition. In theory honors goes deeper and adds an extra unit or two in. Reality depends on the class composition, since the school has to pick a minimum number of students in order to run the class.

imhe, honors spends less time on most topics, but has more frequent quizzes. The result of the quiz determines whether they'll move on or spend another day on the topic - teacher's choice. The extra time comes out of the optional topics. No projects in honors. Another unspoken difference is the way the material is presented..honors will include more 'why' than nonhonors and proof...which I find insane as my nonhonors kid needs the why and proof as he detests memorizing algorithms. Homework load is the same.

Students that don't do homework here are dropped at the quarter into a double period section or they have the discussion on alternative school. It's still college prep though, as the course content is the same.

While it's true that everyone can't be flunked , they can't be passed on the curve either as the Regents' Exam has to be passed to gain course credit. It is quite possible for most of a section to flunk and repeat the next year. My freshman found it quite sobering to have repeaters in most of his core classes.

I asked the superintendent of curriculum what the cost savings would be if the K-6 program went back to ability grouping and mastery testing, rather than forcing the majority of students into double period for 7-11. No answer yet.

concerned said...

We look at data from AP Potential to ensure that students who want to take AP are enrolled in coursework that will prepare them to do so. A few times we've caught placement errors and contacted parents to recommend changes.

Anonymous said...

"No projects in honors."

Oh, not in my high school. Even the AP Stats teacher had some, but at least that was only for extra credit.

And several of our honors classes are split into top honors and lower honors. My son is in all top honors. It all seems like a way to lower the grades of some kids and give the "creative" ones a chance to up theirs. It seems largely disconnected from the child's actual achievement in the subject.

The honors English had mostly in-class projects like creating poems in a group. They also had a blog for one of the books so that Chatty Cathy could get an A for something. The rubrics were huge and largely subjective (and confusing.) Lots of touchy- feely, tell us how you relate.

Even honors Geometry had a coloring project for a major grade that took my son hours to finish.

This is why I'm suspicious that the pressure to assign this stuff is coming from upstairs.

I could go on, but it starts to make my blood boil. We can't get into the AP classes fast enough.


CassyT said...

We're here in MN at the MSMI2010 conference with Dr. Wu and a parent member of the curriculum committee in Minneapolis told us they just adopted TERC Investigations in Minneapolis.

Out of the frying pan, into the fire.

Catherine & Cassy