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.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Algebra I dumbs down

See, it's happening already...

Philadelphia Inquirer, 18 May 2006
“New method of algebra solves an old problem”

The Philadelphia school district has developed a new algebra curriculum designed to make the subject more accessible to all eighth graders.

Called Algebra8, the curriculum melds portions of the ninth-grade Algebra I curriculum with the traditional eighth-grade math curriculum. Students use manipulatives like Algeblocks to visualize problems and algebraic principles. The Algebra8 instruction is added to their daily 90-minute math period three times a week.

At the end of the year, eighth-graders will take an algebra proficiency exam. Those who pass will move on to Algebra II or geometry in ninth grade, and those who fail will take Algebra I.

Did you catch that? the new curriculum is "more accessible" (easier) for "all eighth graders" (easy enough for the bottom eighth graders). Not only that, it includes "portions" of Algebra I (hmm, I thought 8th grade math already did, but then I'm from the Dakotas) not all of Algebra I, and if students pass they move on to Algebra II--which now has to be dumbed down, as well, because the students who pass the 8th grade proficiency test haven't had all of Algebra I.

Yup, it's the appearance of raising standards without the substance of raising standards, moving things earlier in the curriculum but reducing their complexity, in other words, politically motivated dumbing-down.