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Math A – out with a whimper

January 29, 2009 pm31 5:57 pm

This afternoon at 4:15 Math A will be history. And very few of us will care. Surprising?

Seven  years ago, as Course 1 was being offered for the last time, displaced by Math A, schools across the state scrambled to get their kids into Course 1. There was wild overtesting in some poorer-performing schools as every kid without a 55 (that was passing, for a while) took or retook that Regents, ready or not. The schools were, in a way, right. Course 1 had predictable content. A weaker student could be trained to take it, could learn to identify different types of questions, could be taught enough math.

Many schools in New York State, perhaps most, adopted Math A only when forced to. And they were right. First June administration after Course 1 was gone? Boom. Statewide disaster. It took 6 more years to dump the mess. But here we are.

The replacement is “Integrated Algebra” but it’s not really algebra. It’s a shortened version of Math A. Doesn’t tell us how much a kid really knows. Same stupid math in (poorly constructed) context. Same wide-ranging vocabulary. Same ideosyncratic New York math questions. Same arbitrary scoring guide, with unfair deductions. But less content overall.

Both these exams were designed to do double duty: to tell us if a kid is ready to graduate (high stakes tests) and to tell us if a kid is ready to move on to the next course. They do a horrible job of both. So bad, that the State now denies that they tell us about readiness to move on.

These exams tell us nothing about top kids, but do create a graduation hurdle for weaker kids. So we sigh, and choose the shorter one. And no one will miss Math A.

For those of you taking Math A – good luck. If you don’t know a multiple choice, bubble in something. And for 31 – 39, write down something, even if you are not sure. Can’t figure out how to write the equation? Write another one, and solve that instead. Give us something. When you leave, there should be absolutely no blank pages.

For those of you taking Integrated Algebra – same thing. It’s really just a shortened version of the same test. And good luck. (I have a few students sitting for this one).

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 30, 2009 am31 1:02 am 1:02 am

    I give my students the same advice. I tried that advice for the math B test only this one was so wierd the advice did not help. My school always has clsoe to 90% passing. This term we are just about at 50%. I did not even bother to look at math A or algebra exams before I left today.

  2. Eric permalink
    January 30, 2009 am31 4:00 am 4:00 am

    I think the Math A was pretty reasonable this time. Didn’t care for the combination question towards the end, and I always hate box-whisper questions.

  3. January 30, 2009 pm31 10:09 pm 10:09 pm

    As we return to a 3 year sequence after the failed Math A and B experiment, I can’t help but wonder if there is some credence to what several teachers have at times affirmed — that a driving factor in rearranging the curriculum is the book publishing companies(Prentice Hall et al) who are only to happy to print and sell new books! I know that this is a cynical interpretation and I’m sure that this is not the only factor driving the cyclical recreation and near duplication of content (back to three years with the new integrated sequence), but as we come full circle (almost) I do wonder who thought Math A and Math B would work. At least, New York can say that there is reason that algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II are all given a full year dedicated to each!

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