Dr. Stat

Dr. Stat is a Statistics Professor. This blog is his opportunity to share ideas and opinions about education (especially math education), politics, and whatever else comes up.

Friday, March 18, 2005

New York HS Math Reform

March 16, 2005, The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York)
REGENTS APPROVE MATH COURSES; THREE NEW MATH SEQUENCES REPLACING "MATH A" AND "MATH B" TO BE PHASED IN.

By Debra J. Groom and Maureen Nolan

A new approach to learning math was approved Tuesday by the state Board of Regents.The board decided to replace the high school courses "Math A" and "Math B" - each a year and a half long - with three yearlong courses called "Algebra," "Geometry" and "Algebra 2 and Trigonometry."

"A New Approach???" Isn't this how practically everyone else does it?

The state says the course titled "Algebra" will include some geometry, measurement, statistics and probability in addition to algebra, while the "Geometry" course also will include some algebra, measurement, statistics and probability, in addition to geometry.The Regents said this will ensure that at the end of ninth-grade algebra, students should know as much math as they do at the end of Math A."This is not a lot," McSweeney said. "High-performing countries already ask their kids to do this. And if we're going to compete globally, we have to have rigorous math courses."

The article points out that there were problems under the old curriculum with different schools doing different things, so that students who transferred were missing topics. "Math A" and "Math B" were actually exams, rather than courses, and schools designed courses to prepare students for the tests.

Math curriculum is a difficult problem, or perhaps all curriculum is. There is not good agreement on what should be included or how it should be taught, and it is very important to have some uniformity because of students transferring and also because of college expectations. There does seem to be a trend to combine the threads from algebra, geometry, and such things as measurement and statistics, into one sequence rather than separate courses. I have nothing against the approach, in fact I think it is good to integrate these things so that relationships can be discussed and the topics can be used to strengthen each other. It does, however, make things more difficult when students transfer. It used to be that if a student had Algebra I or Geometry you could be fairly sure what he studied. Now it is much less clear, and much more difficult to decide what courses to place a transfer student into.