Monday, January 25, 2010

Dynamic Systems: When All the Parts are Moving

Gary Litvin on the Python Edu-sig list:

Several years ago, Maria (Litvin) asked a high-ranking College Board person whether AP Discrete Mathematics was a possibility. The answer was absolutely no. The main reason was that the College Board was looking for ways to reduce gender imbalance and minorities participation, and another math course wouldn't help. Hence AP Human Geography... When the College Board abruptly cancelled the AP CS AB exam, part of the rationale given, again, was that cancelling this exam wouldn't hurt the gender balance and minorities participation. What they meant was they could afford to cancel this small and unprofitable exam. (They also cancelled AP Italian -- no gender imbalance there).

When you create a new quantitative goal or incentive -- reduce The AP Gap -- every part of the system responds, not just the part you're hoping to change. Most people who like to talk about a "systems approach" to education reform don't seem to uderstand how complex the system is.

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