Thursday, August 14, 2008

Algebra expansion - $3.1 Billion

Jill Tucker, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer with lots of reader comments
August 13, 2008

SACRAMENTO -- California's schools will need an additional $3.1 billion annually - $2,100 more for every middle school student - to implement the governor's new eighth-grade algebra testing requirement, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell said Tuesday.
What a concept. First, it's silly to assume that 100% of eighth graders are ready for anything, not to mention algebra. From the Newsweek article on Teach For America,
Locke High School in Watts. At Locke, a school hemmed in by competing gangs, 2 percent of ninth graders are proficient in algebra; 11 percent read at grade level. Too many can't read at all.
so we're now going to accomplish state-wide algebra proficiency at the 8th grade level instead?

Second, spending that much only to realize that a large percentage of the students are not ready for algebra seems somewhat counter-productive.

Thirdly, that's a heck of a lot of money and I doubt that much of it is going to any teachers. I think it more likely that some testing company is scoring a big, fat juicy contract here (assuming the number isn't wildly inflated to score PR victory).

Most troublesome from my perspective, the unintended consequence will be that algebra 1 will have to be watered down to the level of the test that 90% of the kids COULD pass.

Of course, they could always set the passing score to 30 out of 90. That seems to be the way of the world these days.

1 comment:

  1. In the backlash against "constructivist" math, California got a heavy dose of back-to-basics, much directed by math professors.

    The pendulum swung much too far (from one bad place to another, without pausing). You can find some of the background in the perpetrators' own words at the dormant Mathematically Correct website

    nb, I am not taking the side of their opponents, who in many ways made a worse mess. But having an algebra standard without an associated grade would be a huge improvement.