Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Let's make Algebra II mandatory - that'll learn them.

From Mother Jones and The Washington Posted reform has gone to this:
Of all of the classes offered in high school, Algebra II is the leading predictor of college and work success, according to research that has launched a growing national movement to require it of graduates.
In recent years, 20 states and the District have moved to raise graduation requirements to include Algebra II, and its complexities are being demanded of more and more students.
....One of the key studies supporting the Algebra II focus was conducted by Anthony Carnevale and Alice Desrochers, then both at the Educational Testing Service. They used a data set that followed a group of students from 1988 to 2000, from eighth grade to a time when most were working. The study showed that of those who held top-tier jobs, 84 percent had taken Algebra II or a higher class as their last high school math course. Only 50 percent of employees in the bottom tier had taken Algebra II.
....But not everyone is convinced that Algebra II is the answer. Among the skeptics is Carnevale, one of the researchers who reported the link between Algebra II and good jobs. He warns against thinking of Algebra II as a cause of students getting good jobs merely because it is correlated with success. “The causal relationship is very, very weak,” he said. “Most people don’t use Algebra II in college, let alone in real life. The state governments need to be careful with this.”
Holy crap!  It's so damned simple!

Calculus students do really well in jobs that require mathematics.  Let's require every student to take calculus and we'll have a nation of math geniuses.

Algebra II! As a minimum requirement to hold a high school diploma! We're literally saying that if you can't factor polynomials, manipulate complex numbers, do matrix arithmetic, and understand basic trig, then you can't get a high school diploma? Really?
The push comes from Achieve, a group of idiots would really, really need to take statistics again.

Let's think here ... smart kids take algebra II ... smart kids are motivated ... smart kids are likely to maintain their motivation and work their way up the corporate ladder ... smart kids are likely to take art ... smart kids are likely to do well in literature ...  smart kids are likely to finish college ... smart kids do well in science ... smart kids work hard ... smart kids focus ... smart kids are likely to be smart ... smart kids eat healthy foods ... smart kids play a lot of video games ... smart kids read a lot ... smart kids play soccer ... smart kids volunteer their time ... smart kids eat crappy, greasy foods ... smart kids are likely to be athletic ... we could go on.

Why is anyone making the link only between algebra and success?

Why are we so stupid?


  1. Another theory: people who like math and will do it when not required to will do better overall. So far as I can tell, algebra II is the point at which students don't have to take math any more, so, the ones who don't like it, don't take it, and the ones who do like it, do take it. If we start requiring algebra II for everyone, then the good predictor class will be pre-calc.

  2. My algebra kids can't multiply two numbers without a calculator. If they need Algebra II and Trig, they might as well drop out today.

    As for getting ahead, the old AP English bragged about failing Algebra II in high school (don't know what there was to brag abouthere) and he was a pretty big success so the two don't always go hand in hand.

  3. Welcome to Georgia. Under the current math curriculum, the class of 2012 and on will not be able to graduate high school unless they pass Algebra 2. Actually, Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 and statistics - but mixed up and called Math 1 to Math 4.

  4. Here in Texas, students are required to take Algebra II. 2012 is the first graduating class to graduate with this requirement. How's that working out?? Well, I saw the senior counselor today and she is about to have a nervous breakdown because of all the seniors who are failing algebra II right now. The state's answer to this problem? Let's make everybody take algebra I in 8th grade. That way they'll have two years to get through algebra II. Yeah, that's really gonna work.

    My prediction is these students will soon be pulled out of algebra II and placed into credit recovery where they will "earn" their math credit by spending a few hours in front of a computer. Texas will be able to say, "Hey look at us, we make everyone take algebra II." But all of us who live in the real world will know it is nothing but lies.

  5. yeah I'm surprised this hasn't hit CA yet. We seem to be just as stupid, if not more stupid than the rest of the country.

    I would love to see this go through. I have a senior Algebra 2 class this year and if it was a regular Algebra 2 class then I would be looking at 20 students not graduating.

  6. I think Lsquared hit it on the head.

  7. I am 39, back i 1986-1990 when I was in high school Algebra was not a req, I took Accounting.

    I have no need for Algebra or higher math, Currently I am trying to get a IT degree in computer networking.

    I have over 20 years computer building/repair exp, but the School I am going to and any other I have tried want me to take something that I will never use nor want to learn. If I am paying ($39k) I should decide what I take.

    I mean, If I want to learn how to cook, should I be forced to install a muffler on a car first?

    And I have an IQ of 147 by the way.

    I mean, we only live to about 80 or so, just why should I waste my time on this?

    I mean, If you want me to hook up your 20 computers to a network, do you think I am going sit down and do a formula no, I am gonna pull out a tape measure and find out how long I need to make the Network cables to be. (and I do know about wireless, this was just an example)

  8. C.S. was the foremost Christian apologist of the 20th century who became an Oxford don. He said that he never would have been admitted without being a WWI vet because his "maths" were so atrocious. It got him into Oxford because his performance in math was "waived".

    We no longer prize imagination and creative thinking in this society, especially in the universities. I believe this ultimately leads to an erosion of morality and ethics. If you aren't accomplished at math, the message is that you are bringing nothing to the table. Sad.