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To the Math B students who have been visiting

January 29, 2009 am31 10:02 am

Thanks for coming by. I appreciate that there are kids who care about this stuff, who want to know.

First things first:

maybe you only saw one post here, there are a few:

  1. B Minus 4 (right before the test)
  2. Let the complaints begin (that’s what most of you saw. 100+ comments)
  3. What was the matter with #13? (I complain)
  4. #33 – Unfair (I complain more)
  5. Some good questions (#2, #4, #20, #21, #25, #26, #28, #31, #34)
  6. Weak gravity and other Math B oddities (bad context in questions:  #7, #30, #10)

A lot of you who believe you did poorly think the exam was hard. Many others did well and think the exam was easy. It would be better to indicate that you did well, or did poorly. Easy or hard is in the mind of each student. That 88 that you are proud of, that’s in black and white.

Don’t put your names, or even your schools. But I can see that you are coming from all over NY State. It might be nice to mention what region you are in.

Most of you didn’t notice, but this is a math teacher’s website. I teach in the Bronx, but my students didn’t take Math B.

I think that A and B were horrible exams, and I am glad they are going away. Integrated Algebra is not much better, though. And I worry about Geometry and Trigonometry.

Actually, I don’t think that the test writers in Albany are talented enough to be creating ‘high stakes’ tests. Fortunately for you, Math B is not high stakes. It can make the difference between a regular and an advanced diploma, but I don’t know if anyone outside of New York State really cares about that.

Unfortunately for many of your friends and relatives (and my students) Integrated Algebra is high stakes.

There’s more problems. IA is an algebra exam, to see if you are ready for geometry? No. Way too easy. Way too much extraneous probability and stats, and silly obscure vocabulary. Is at an exit exam, a minimum bar to see if someone is ready to be graduated from high school? No way. Grab a copy, or click over to the NYSED website. Those aren’t the questions that you’d ask to see if someone can function out there.

The conversion charts stink. You should know going in how many points you need.

Congratulations on taking an annoying, and for some of you, challenging exam. If you have to do it again, you’ll have a few more chances. And if not, no more math regents ever. Hooray. But enough with you, for now.

Tomorrow is Algebra.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 2, 2009 am28 3:53 am 3:53 am

    My son is a junior and took this Math B test, midway through his Math B year. His teacher thinks it’s a good idea to expose his students to the test. Normally, our expectation is that our son score 90% and above, honor roll. He meets our expectation almost all the time. That’s why it’s ironic that on Math B, we’re shooting for passing. Yep, lowering my expectation. At this half year mark, he got a 53% and we actually celebrated this score. I have to take this approach or his confidence will be totally shot. We talked a lot about there being four to five months left to learn the other 47% of the material needed. He says there were questions about which he had absolutely no clue. The biggest problem with Math B? It just causes my kid to conclude he’s stupid in math and insist I let him take tech math next year instead of Pre-Calc. Not going to happen, but I sure hope he does okay in June. Otherwise, it will be a much tougher argument. I hate this test!

  2. February 2, 2009 am28 4:46 am 4:46 am


    I do not believe that SED as currently configured is capable of producing acceptable high school level examinations in mathematics.

    All of them suffer from having too many topics and too little depth. SED’s answer is to get teachers involved in every aspect of what is decided, but no teacher is ever permitted a global point of view – each is given a narrow, specific task as part of a committee.

    The result, no one answers for SEDs errors. Committee judgment vs personal responsibility leads to topics being added, never taken away, from over-broad curricula. Mistakes are repeated without a chance of being corrected.

    Integrated Algebra is defined by a list of topics, again, overbroad. But it is a graduation exam, not a course completion exam. Strong students do ridiculously well, while leaning nothing from the result, as the marginal points at the top of the scale are often from arbitrary questions or strange rubrics. Weak students struggle, because there are just far too many topics, and arbitrary as they are, there is no unifying theme for them to fall back on. It is not, by the way, and algebra exam. Less than half the content is algebra.

    And middle students? Score a 75 and think they are ready to move on. And a 75 just doesn’t mean that. In fact, it doesn’t really mean anything.

    Then we have B, and we will see how Integrated Geometry looks, and Integrated Trig next year. But once again, ridiculously broad. Not B, but the other two will be linked to amorphous courses. B is linked to nothing, just a wide grab bag of challenging topics. No theme to unify, no basic skills to organize the year of study. And with arbitrary cut scores. No child should ever walk into an exam not knowing how many points they need to pass, but it happens every year with B.

    This year B included a 6-point question from outside the curriculum. Did your teachers ask you or the HS principal to forward a complaint to Katz and Abrams? I hope they did. And I hope you did. And I hope the same thing happened in other districts. They won’t fix it. Stubborn, insecure, terrified of admitting error. But they have to know that we are watching.

  3. February 2, 2009 am28 5:26 am 5:26 am

    Ah, and if I had my way, and districts listened to me, I would make junior year a normal year, no exam. Teach stuff, teach it well. And then use the first term of precalc to prepare for B.


  4. Anonymous permalink
    February 4, 2009 am28 3:03 am 3:03 am

    “Did your teachers ask you or the HS principal to forward a complaint to Katz and Abrams? I hope they did. And I hope you did. And I hope the same thing happened in other districts. They won’t fix it. Stubborn, insecure, terrified of admitting error. But they have to know that we are watching.”

    Seriously. I e-mailed both of them, and so far David Abrams is the only one who replied, and basically told me it’s my teacher’s fault that I a) didn’t know how to fully answer question #33 and b) managed to have a 90+ average all through the course and then pass the Regents exam by a single point.

    … sigh.

  5. Erik permalink
    May 20, 2009 pm31 4:59 pm 4:59 pm

    Math B is killing me now. I used to always be at the top of my class when it comes to math or math related (chemistry), but i dont know whats with Trigonometry that i just cannot comprehend. first of all, my teacher goes way too fast, one day we’ll be learning logarithms, the next, statistics. i barely understood what we did yesterday and now a new topic???!!! my chances for passing the regents is slim, only if i’m lucky with the multiple choice and/or a sudden light bulb turns on when it comes to part 2, 3, and 4 , i’ll probably pass, other than that, I’m probably going to have to take it again next year. =( hopefully not with the same teacher.


  1. My favorite bad exam target: Math B (and a puzzle) « JD2718

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