Sunday, February 28, 2010

Is Teaching Algebra II Everyone's Responsibility?

There is a good thread over at Living in Dialogue about the question of whether or not teachers should or do "strongly agree that the teachers in a school share responsibility for the achievement of all students."

In general, yes, but the more I chew over the NECAP numbers for high-poverty RI schools, the less I know what to make of them in terms of evaluating the whole school. The problem is, apparently we're only supposed to look at three numbers for high schools. Reading, math, and four year graduation rate. Yet math proficiency rates typically and routinely lag the reading rates by seventy percent in a given school. On paper, that looks like like half the school. In real life, it is what, a sixth of the student's day? And if the rest of the school is functioning well enough that 60%, 70%, 80% of the kids are reaching standards in reading and writing, what can the rest of the school do to improve math achievement?

3 comments:

jd2718 said...

"what can the rest of the school do to improve math achievement?"

You really asked? Wow. Is there a limit to how many things I can list? No, but let me pick just one...

Pare down the curricula.

Math is the hardest subject. Perhaps. But for now let's accept that. And, over the last two generations, the math courses have become more and more packed.

Unpack them.

Put graph creation and graph reading back in social studies.

Put measurement and error back in the science classes.

Remove stats altogether.

Any "mathematical application of X" move out of math and into the subject appropriate for X.

OK. That was 1a.

1b. Increase time on task by "unpacking" some discrete skills into separate skills courses. Could be once a week sort of things. (a) Control of calculator - could be done with a heavy games and puzzles component. (b) Calculation? or something like that for arithmetic? (the degree a student controls arithmetic is related to the degree they will control 'more advanced' topics. (c) Games? for real.

But, in other words, not time on task to increase the time in the painful class. Time on task, low stakes, to handle mathematical objects and get more comfortable with them, outside of the regular class.

- - -- --- ----- --- -- - -

Not too likely, huh?

Jonathan

jd2718 said...

Having reviewed the released questions you linked, I do think that putting a heavy dose of chart reading (in context, not as math) in social studies makes sense, as does considerable work on units and display of data in science.

But aligning curricula is tough work, and there's much potential for resistance.

Jonathan

Tom Hoffman said...

Actually, at FHS they did come in above the district average in the stats and data analysis part, which makes sense because given their (formerly) project-based curriculum they would probably do more of that sort of thing in other subject areas.