Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

November 16, 2006

A Flexible 4 by 4

Filed under: High School, standards, Terri Leo, Texas State Board of Education — texased @ 10:17 am

MySA.com: Metro | State:

AUSTIN — High school students will face a tougher curriculum beginning next year, but likely won’t have to take the highest level of math and science to meet the new fourth-year requirements.

A blow to full employment for Physics and Pre-Cal teachers, a blow against watering down their class content.

MySA.com: Metro | State:

Drew Scheberle with the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce said he doesn’t think the new curriculum will better prepare students for college.”We’ll give more credits for the same content,” he said.

First of all, we were probably already doing that which caused this problem to begin with. Second, nobody is preventing students or the parents of students from taking more demanding classes. Don’t parents work in the same world that needs these more advanced classes?

MySA.com: Metro | State:

The plan still would allow students to take algebra 1 in middle school, meaning they could avoid any math during their senior year. Some speakers had urged the board to count only math classes taken during high school.

Aren’t most students who take Algebra I in middle school college bound? If they don’t take math in their senior year, don’t you think they and/or their parents have good reasons for doing so? But what really bugs me about not counting Algebra I in middle school is that I’m willing to bet that the number of students who took Algebra I in middle school and subsequently end up taking remedial math in college is far lower than those who don’t take Algebra I until high school. Has anyone bothered to check on this? No. But that won’t stop people from dictating policy anyway.

MySA.com: Metro | State:

Board member Terri Leo, R-Spring, argued that the integrated class should be phased out because it is not sufficiently challenging. Mary Helen Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi, said the class can be a “bridge” that allows students to succeed in other science courses.

Again, does either side have any evidence for their case? Texas is supposed to have one of the better data collections on students in the nation, why don’t we use it? Oh, yeah, we wouldn’t want anything like facts to get in the way of decision-making.

For the record, I took Algebra I as a freshman and then took the first semester of geometry in summer school so that I could catch up to the math standards of the magnet school I was transferring to. I took Physics and Chemistry my junior year (so they wouldn’t count because I didn’t take a science my senior year?) and I took calculus my senior year which made taking it in college much easier. I made my son do Algebra I as a eighth grader and he’s doing geometry and biology as a freshman this year.

However, I don’t think it’s necessary for everyone to follow that track. My cousin went for air condition installation/repair instead of college. He owns his own business as a contractor and employs more people than I ever will. And I’m pretty sure he didn’t need pre-calculus to do it.

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