On Oct 7, 2012, at 5:16 PM, Paul Tanner <email@example.com> wrote:
> If "the standards" means the minimum requirements for passing on to > the next grade and then graduating from high school, then the claim > that "they lowered the standards and negated the strides of the > previous generations" is a baldfaced falsity. > > There used to be no exit exam for any grade, period. Now there are for > many grades, and for high school graduation they get harder as time > goes on in that each incarnation covers more material or the > combination of end-of-course exams covers more material. (The first > high school exit exam in FL in the 1980s was just arithmetic, no > algebra at all. Now there are exit exams on every math course that > they have to have to take to graduate, including algebra and > geometry.)
This is a ridiculous statement. This is why so many college graduates are underemployed and in debt. This is like saying that people with college degrees make more money than those without. The truth is - some people with college degrees make more money than those without, many others (half of the graduates since 2005) make no more money than those without. Sure, the average will always be higher, but that isn't meaningful in this context.
Just having students take algebra and an exit exam means NOTHING if the standards are crap. There wasn't exit exams before because there was no need for them. Algebra is a tough subject and only the college bound students took it and before grade inflation, if you took it and did poorly you FAILED. Sure, there were other tracks, some of them even called themselves "algebra", but we knew they weren't and we let em be. Today though, things are all confused. Students come out of college having taken (not learned) algebra and are sad that they must work at Starbucks and pay back $40k in debt. I am sad as well, and enraged.
> There used to be no requirement to take algebra - and most students > who got high school diplomas never even took just Algebra I. Now they > all have to take Algebra I and Geometry and now in some places even > Algebra II.
Yeah, and again, that means NOTHING because the standards are baloney. This isn't my opinion, this is everyone's opinion, except yours.
> It is flat out insane to say that the average high school graduate of > 40 years ago (most of which never took even just some algebra) would > have been able to pass those high school end of course exit exams for > algebra, what all students must now take and pass.
Well, I am glad I didn't say that (this bit about the "average" graduate and other crap). What I did say is that when you refactor algebra into a course that everyone takes and passes with a stinking 32% score, you deprive the actual algebra students, those capable of much more, a real algebra experience. I have shown that the percentage of high scoring students has DROPPED since the TIMSS exam started. I am not the only one pointing this problem out Paul. Others are realizing that this focus on the bottom students has caused a drop in the performance of the top students.
> And this: The math classes in the middle school levels and the algebra > classes up through Algebra II are much harder than they used to be in > that they cover more advanced material. I already proved in past posts > this fact by comparing the content of Algebra I and Algebra II texts > from today to 40 years ago.
Which texts? Honors algebra classes use the older texts. Are you suggesting that they are using the easier texts and the dumbed down BS classes full of kids failing algebra are using the newer and harder texts? If what you said was true then this forum would be replete with stories of high performing high school algebra students. All of this math talent here and how many times have we had the pleasure of sharing news about some high performing algebra class? Even stories of MIT are soured with failure! I think you bring up a good point. There does seem to be much ignorance as to what an honors algebra class looks like and the problems they solve. I will start focusing more on that for awhile.
> That is, there is no comparison. Back then, by the end of Algebra II > we were barely starting to cover polynomial functions - this was most > like because Algebra I in 9th grade was actually just mostly what is > today pre-algebra material of middle school, since Algebra I in 9th > grade then was the very first exposure to any algebra.
So what? You took a slow algebra 2 class, hand me the violin. I can show you dozens of honors algebra classes that cover many more topics than that and they do it out of books that are 30 years old. I just posted the NY regents exams all the way back to 1865 and they tell a very different story than your "barely algebra" algebra 2 class. I just posted the CA Algebra 2 exit exam and it tells a very different story. Yes, I have heard the stories of these slow curriculums. Renfro just related his own experience. I am a believer. But I think I have offered ample proof that those slow curriculums were not the summit of algebra in american high schools. That or the NY regents were written way over the heads of american high school algebra students. I work in STEM and either STEM has gotten too complicated for american students or something is wrong with our schools with regards to STEM. The more I look at the standards, the more I believe that it is the latter. If it isn't the latter, then school probably doesn't matter at all.
> And also this: The minimum college math requirements to get certified > to teach math at either the middle school or high school levels are > vastly higher than they used to be 40 years ago.
Again, this means nothing. You are telling us the POLITICAL requirements. I am talking about the actual requirements. The requirements that a parent like me looks for. They are simple...
1. The teacher knows the subject they teach. 2. The teacher enjoys the subject they teach. 3. The teacher enjoys teaching the subject they teach.