Rex It puts the teacher >and the student into a 'partnership', since the teacher no longer stands in >final judgement of the student
I think this is a very important element of any system. The problem many teachers in the US have, too often in large urban areas, is that too many students know next to nothing about anything after 9-10 years of school. The reformers suggest we enliven curriculum, make it more relevant, decrease "drill and kill", work from a problem solving perspective, and move away from the individual towards the group.
And they're right...to a point. My experience tells me that this might make marginal improvement but not significant improvement. My feeling about the merits of the system you have discarded is that it might begin the syphon, particularly for kids who demonstrate NO motivation. Once we get the water running, then let's worry about its quality.
>It also has its bad points. I used to teach the 2 year senior mathematics >course in a year and a half, and then drill the kids relentlessly using past >exam papers for the last semester. I had no control over what content or >processes I taught - the syllabus told me what to teach, and to what depth.
I suggested multiple national curricula, so the market might become involved. If School A preferred a certain curricula whose assessment was totally portfolio-based, more power to them. But let's have real standards for what should be demonstrated in those portfolios. And then every three or four years, let's have common exams representing so many aspects of math instruction that it would be particularly difficult to teach to it.
For instance, I don't think the AP exam is particularly easy to teach to, although, in the past, the free response questions tended to be predictable. I've seen lots of different approaches to teaching AP Calculus.
>As a side note, I visited the US recently and bought a copy of an AP Maths >Test Prep book by ARCO, in the hope of getting some good assessment from it.My main impression, based on this book, is that AP Calculus is BORING. I >sure many of you are teaching this course in an exciting fashion, but I hope >you are not using that book as guide for designing the course! I reckon it >speaks volumes against standardised tests.
Never heard of that material. Is that ARCO, like the oil company? Only materials I've seen from a gas company are the Shell materials from the UK. There's some good stuff in there.