Saturday, July 27, 2013

Trend for high school students, even in Honors, to fail math finals continues

The failure rate for Montgomery County Md. high school students in mathematics finals continues to be shocking, according to a Metro story by Donna St. George in the Saturday Washington Post, here
  
The failures were high even in honors courses.

I don’t know how many of these exam questions were multiple choice (as on the SOL’s in Virginia).
    
Having worked as a substitute teacher, I find this story shocking.  I know high school and college age students in local churches, and have not heard of any problems like these, and do not believe these students would encounter these failures.
    
I had written in some detail about failures in final exams in all subjects May 28, 2013.

The spread of grades shown in the Post story today resemble the grades I gave to my “Math 2” class at the University of Kansas at the end of the fall semester, in January 1968, just before I received my M.A. I Mathematics and would be drafted into the Army three weeks later, when I would find myself struggling with Army Basic at Ft. Jackson, S.C.

The failure for geometry was worse than algebra in some cases.  Maybe some students cannot grasp the idea of a mathematical "proof".  
   
The algebra course that I taught had been regarded as “remedial”, for students not up to college admission standards in algebra.  The grade counted, but an additional 3 credit hours would be added to the graduation requirements. 
   

I recall grading the finals while on a bus to Denver to visit a roommate-friend, and turning in the grades on my last morning on campus before flying back East before entry into the Army.  Was I acting like an “a-hole”, giving F’s to students who could lose student deferments and get drafted and become vulnerable to infantry in Vietnam, which I would escape because of my education?  Today, the story is troubling.  

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