Mike, I think I heard this exact percentage from the folks at Oakland U several years ago, maybe that is the University you were speaking of... I think it would be a mistake to assume either that this is because the level of teaching in high school was *too rigorus* or that the alternative of some of the reform programs will improve that. By the late 80's or early 90's, math had recovered most of the groud it had lost in the last period of great educational reform ,the late 60's through the 70's (verbal skills have not yet reached their previous level to this day as I understand the SAT results). So we had returned to the success level of, say, 1965, but the college bound percentage of our population had increased dramatically. So now the 10-15% who had always taken remedial classes were to be joined by an additional influx of new students who were lower in the educational food chain, so to speak. At the same time the demands for mathematics in college had increased for many majors during the 25 to 30 year period. In 1965, for example only a rare business school required calculus for a business admin degree, today it is common, and often includes demands for one or two statistics classesas well. The surprising thing is not that 40% need remediation, but that *only* 40% need remediation, and more surprisingly; that with that level of failure, people think the solution is to ask "less" of students in HS math. The sad truth is that among the many dedicated teachers and professors who want to find a balanced direction to make meaningful improvement in math education, there are too many who have more concern about how reform sells textbooks and consulting hours than the impact on students growth. If you think you have the "Silver Bullet" to fix math education then you really are the Lone Ranger.
"Pat Ballew has left the soapbox"
Pat BAllew Misawa, Japan
______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________ Subject: Re: Harvard Calc and "feel good" Author: email@example.com at EDU-INTERNET Date: 6/3/97 8:18 AM
In a message dated 97-06-01 18:09:10 EDT, you write:
<< As an example of the absurdity of the lack of proof before implementation of reform materials, I was told of this exchange (by several people) at a HS math department chair meeting in LAUSD.
The District is very big on pushing "Integrated Math" on all the high schools. When asked for data comparing different approaches and books, the "experts" response? "I don't know." >>
Unfortunately, what I think we do "know" about traditional high school mathematics programs is that they do not do a particularly good job of preparing students for first year studies at college. In my state, the largest university typically assigns about 40% of incoming freshmen to a non-credit-earning mathematics class in order to bring their level of understanding up to what the university deems as a "minimal level of competence."
To use your analogy, if 40% of my patients were dying, I might try some other treatment.
Michael Shelly, Ed.D. Mathematics Department Chair Andover High School Bloomfield Hills MI