# New York sample algebra questions

October 30, 2007 am31 7:30 am

The New York State Integrated Algebra Test Sampler is on line here. The sample exam is the first link.

Take a look. I don’t know that I’ve seen a better example of “a mile wide and an inch deep” before. Yeccch.

I can’t think of a better argument for national curricula than the garbage that individual states produce. Once upon a time NY State’s math exams were top notch. But once upon a time smoke stacks belched prosperity and mercury was fun to play with…

(The South Platte is also a mile wide and an inch deep. For a recreational stream, that’s a good thing. For a math curriculum? Nope.)

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How old are the students who will be tested with that exam?

It varies. One of our problems is the purpose of the exam – we don’t know it. It is required to finish high school. But it also may be a measure of mastery of the course content. But we don’t have a course outline.

My students will be 13 or 14 or a few 15. In other schools, some children will take this when they are 16 or 17 or older.

Well, there is a big difference between a 13 and a 17 year old student. One can take it when he wants? Or is the teacher who decides when the student is able to take the exam?

And what if the student fails? What happens then?

(Sorry to bother you, I’m trying to understand your system of education. Here in Italy we have this problem: what to do when a student is considered “insufficient” in one or two (sometimes three) courses).

A few questions:

How long do students have to take the test? Are students familiar with using a graphing calculator? Lastly, how is it scored? I saw the rubric, but what is considered “proficient”?

The exam is 3 hours, and graphing calculators are required. Individual schools decide who takes the exam, and when. But it is designed for the first or second year of high school, for most students (so 14 or so).

If the student fails, they take it again (it will be offered January, June, and also August for Summer School). Students cannot graduate from high school without passing this exam (and four more: English, Global History, US History, and one science exam)

Most of the 30 multiple-choice questions are an exercise in substitution and elimination, not math. So as long as life consists of 4 neat choices (2 of which are obviously wrong and one which can be eliminated), we’ll be OK.

Yikes.

I grew up in NYC and attended Bronx Science. I have the amusing memory of getting into the Roth Math Program (summer Math geek camp) and needing to be a day late to the program because I had to take the NYS Regents exam. It was so ironic that here I was, going to geek camp to work my tail off studying Number Theory, and I had to stay “after school” to take a test where I got to demonstrate that I could add big numbers together without too many mistakes. No, calculators were not allowed, not that many of us had or could afford calculators in the late ’70s.

Sol