Best case scenario: My daughter gets out of elementary school (two more years) with a solid foundation in arithmetic and a little bit of measurements (forget about data, probability and statistics, ignore most of geometry, don’t worry about algebra until you take a real algebra course). This will require parents who work with her at home every night and will require good math teachers who recognize the gaps in Everyday Math and continue to supplement that program. In addition, it will require that the additional supplementation she gets via the teachers and at home does not confuse her as to the “right” way of doing math, and it will require that whatever transition curriculum is invented to mash Everyday Math into the Common Core State Standards has some coherence and focus (I gave up on rigor a long time ago). NOTE: my editor, aka my mother-in-law, asked if I meant "mash" or "mesh" in the previous sentence. Mesh would imply that Everyday Math fit well into the CCSS. Mash is more appropriate, given the hammer likely required to pound the square peg (EDM) into the round whole (CCSS).
Many things need to go right for this to happen, some of which are outside of my control.Worst case scenario: She loses her interest in math because of the bizarre program offered over the next two years. With this loss of interest, she drops into the track which takes Algebra in ninth grade (right now about 40% of students), and then needs only two more credits in math to graduate. This leads to remedial math in college, which means no science or engineering degree.
Is there a more-likely middle ground? This, actually, is my greatest fear.Middle-of-the-road scenario: She gets by with good grades (or what passes for grades on the new standards-based report card) in a subject she now accepts as a necessary evil. She does algebra in eighth grade, and calculus as a senior, and is judged Proficient or even Goal level on the CAPT. She then gets accepted to a reasonable school with the intention of studying engineering or science. Then, surprise, her math skills are not sufficient to do the work demanded of a real college education. Of course, by then I am sure that the college level courses will be dumbed down to allow most of the entering freshmen to succeed. If you doubt that, read some of the posts I have made regarding Dr. W. Stephen Wilson at Johns Hopkins.
Why is this my greatest fear? Because this scenario is likely happening to a significant number of students. See my post on the number of students needing remedial math: http://greenwichmath.blogspot.com/2012/01/ready-or-not-here-they-come.htmlThe end result is either shattered dreams (for those who realize they can’t make it when their high school told them they were ready) and/or a waste of time and money.
But wait, our high schools would not lead our students down such a path. Well, obviously, I am hoping GHS does not do that, but read the following e-mail from a college mathematics professor to the principal of a high school in California. The name of the high school is College Ready Academy High School #5. I’ve edited out a few lines.______________________________________________________
“Please share with everyone relevant - Principal Marolla, counselors, and the Department of Mathematics at the very least.On March 14, I interviewed/advised a recent graduate of your school before approving his request to become a major in mathematics with career goal of teaching mathematics at the pre-collegiate level. Regrettable as it is, I was compelled to give him an accurate prognosis of his success toward that goal; extremely negative.
Assuming what he told me was true, he had taken Pre-calculus and AP Calculus simultaneously (an appropriate schedule for only the most gifted and hard-working of students, not the situation here by a wide margin). He claimed to have received grades of A in both courses followed by a 1 in the College Boards national exam for real AP Calculus [that is, he got a one (1) on his AP Calculus test].
Not only was he misplaced by allowing those two courses to be taken simultaneously, his grades were an absolute disconnect from his general math competence. He came closer in English, although some remediation was required, but mathematics was ridiculous. He not only failed to perform well enough on the CSU-mandated ELM [Entry Level Mathematics Test], he could not test out of the lowest remedial (noncredit) mathematics class that we offer. Far more likely than graduating with a degree in mathematics is that he will drop out of college entirely; at best, only after five or six years.
Assuming everything he said is accurate, we have grade inflation run amok and the title of the school, College Ready Academy High School #5, deliberately misleading to well-intentioned students and their parents.
These kids are not close to being college ready. I would be happy to offer my advice as to what to do to change things but, I assure you, moving students along with good grades and horrible performance is not a recipe for success.Wayne Bishop, PhD
Professor of Mathematics
California State University LA”
The school’s website indicates that 124 students in the class of 2012 took the SATs. The average math score was 363, with a maximum of 580. The school’s website also highlights: ACRAHS
Now granted, this is an inner-city high school with a significant number of students who are economically disadvantaged. But is it fair to misguide students about what they have accomplished, and what they can do?