Making Math Tougher?

A state wide math final. . . .this bothers me. . . .it bothers me so much. I had to take a test to become a licensed teacher. I even had to take a test to be highly qualified to teach math. . . .but for high school students to take a THREE HOUR TEST?!?!?!?!?!? It bothers me so much.

In the Florida, they are doing a big math push that begins with an Algebra Test.

A nearly three-hour online algebra exam awaits more than 200,000 Florida public school students when they get to school on Monday. The new Algebra I end-of-course test accounts for almost a third of their class grade this year.

Really? Why? Three hours. . . . .I just can’t believe they would expect 14-16 year olds to sit that long and focus. I had a tough time focusing for my test that I took a little over a year ago. Is this really the best way to assess our students? The next fact shared is this:

The test, which replaces the high school math Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, is the first step by lawmakers to phase in tougher graduation requirements over the next few years. It can be taken anytime during the next three weeks.

Starting with ninth-graders in 2010-11, all students will have to pass similar tests in geometry and biology and take more rigorous courses like Algebra II, and chemistry or physics to earn high school diplomas.

WHAT?!?!?!? Tougher?!?!? You want to make school tougher?!?!?!

In a state that has gone from 5.4% high school dropouts in 1998-99 to only 2.3% in 2008-09 (Florida Dept. of Ed) that is a big move. Students are starting to feel comfortable back in school and not wanting to escape. Now they want to make it tougher? Is this going to chase students away?

But teachers are concerned that making more subjects mandatory will make graduation tougher for students who are weak or have little interest in those subjects.

Previously, students only needed three math credits and three science credits to graduate. Students in this year’s freshman class will need four math credits, including Algebra I and II and geometry, and three science credits including biology and chemistry or physics.

“For some students, algebra doesn’t have a real-life meaning for them, therefore their recall of the subject is not very long,” said Nancy Gindoff, head of the Riverview High School math department.

But administrators say the tougher requirements are needed to produce a more skilled workforce.

Teachers are worried. . . .they should be. Administrators on the other hand, answer me this. Where are these tougher requirements needed? When did jobs all of a sudden require greater skills? Yes, there may be some jobs out there that need them, but most jobs that have been around for years do not need higher skills.

Here’s a great line that supports the choice for the test.

One of the drawbacks of the new test is that it is scored by computer, said Jeff Hilt, math department chair at Braden River High. That means students will no longer get credit for showing how they worked toward their answer.

Yes! That is taking every student’s fears of not doing it “the right way” (teacher’s way) and throwing it in their face. How is this going to help students be confident? Also, what if they forget the negative sign halfway through the problem by mistake? Their answer is completely wrong!

This article and test that is happening in Florida just bothers me. It’s taking No Child Left Behind and making it worse I feel.

What are your thoughts? Is this they way we should head in education?

Please go read the entire article. Maybe I’m missing something, but right now this makes me nervous. Good luck to all Florida Algebra students.


About Anthony Purcell

I am Anthony Purcell and I am currently teaching math in Oklahoma.
This entry was posted in Algebra, Assessments, Education, Geometry, Math, School, Teaching, Technology. Bookmark the permalink.

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