article N + 1

Posted on November 12, 2019




The most recent article was about math beyond developmental — college algebra.   This article is pre-developmental; it’s about high school. 

The authors aim  high with this analogy: we should be “making mathematics ‘a pump, not a filter’.

That’s worth pausing and considering.   What would that look like????    The *antithesis* of gatekeeping.   That’s a bit of a change in attitude (and probably *impossible* at most postsecondary settings).

In the foreword by Pamela Burdman:

Math class plays an outsize role in students’ lives for at least two reasons: Ideally, math learning fosters the quantitative reasoning skills students need to use in high school and college, in their careers, and in civic life. But apart from the learning it affords, math also has the gatekeeping power to determine, often in arbitrary ways, whether students can access further opportunities.

She lists “equity dimensions” as: content, instruction, assessment, and policies … it makes me happy to actually see content *and* instruction.   She mentions the recent de-emphasis of remedial coursework (but not how draconian it is, or that the results are better but still horrible   .  That data accepts with open arms that math is a filter — just not *quite* as fine and thorough if we cut remedial work from the budget (and most filter the students who score the poorest out entirely).  (At their webinar, I asked about this; I didn’t get an answer, tho’ they said they would answer questions they didn’t get to later.)

The article then describes the dismal levels of competency on tests, noting that it could be that the tests might not be  accurately measuring student achievement (in my mind an extremely convenient and harmful assumption).

This paragraph is important:

Mathematics education needs to support students’ transitions to and through college, whether they’re pursuing STEM…..or other promising majors that prepare students for careers in other fields like law, politics, design, and the media. It also needs to be relevant for students who pursue careers directly after high school, without attending college.

Especially important is that the *very next paragraph* says we have a huge problem with students being filtered out of the STEM opportunities to the “other promising majors” or “not attending college.

In 8 minutes I’m back helping students and at 2:00 (another hour) is webinar about this so… to make it quick… lots more dismal stats about how few students actually *get* to “calculus in 12th” (3.3 percent), and more than 1/3 (ten times as many) having to repeat Algebra 1.

Hello?   Swiping from that other thread

Curry D. Where to Focus so Students Become College and Career Ready. Journal Of Research & Practice For Adult Literacy, Secondary & Basic Education [serial online]. Spring2017 2017;6(1):62.

The National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) asked: What does it really mean to be college and work ready? They conducted a two-and-a-half year study to try to answer that question. What they discovered is most of the math that is required of students before beginning college courses and the math that most enables students to be successful in college courses is not high school mathematics, but middle school mathematics. Ratio, proportion, expressions and simple equations, and arithmetic were especially important (NCEE, 2013).

In other words, if we could help our students develop strong math skills at levels A through C/D in the CCR, they would be well-prepared to tackle college level classes or even ready to succeed in training required at the workplace.

Arithmetic, ratio, proportions, expressions and simple equations, people.

My quick “I’ll expand later” point:   it’s stressed that we need “rigorous” instruction, not “watered down,” but … not to put too fine a point on it, does that mean that even suggesting that students learn their times tables be dismissed because they can use calclators for that? When they talk about re-design… what do they mean? (What do they talk about amongst themselves that would get dismissed by the folks with the filtering mindset?)   How do we teach to understanding … to address the whole mess of students who add across fractions to get answers because that’s what developmental math students understand

The article at least mentions the need for more support for students to “address uneven prior opportunities and damaged math student identities,” and … oh, there are four or five other places that got circles and arrows in my annotations …  (the weather likes me… it’s snow and cold so I’m on the bus and … I’ve got something to read 🙂 )


but time to post this and see who’s out there with questions 😉