Skip to comments.Students failing algebra rarely recover
Posted on 12/01/2012 2:31:36 PM PST by thecodont
California students who fail algebra and repeat the course are pretty much doomed to fail again, a vicious cycle that wastes limited resources and precious learning time, according to a report released Friday.
Just over a third of students in the 24 school districts studied had to repeat Algebra I either in ninth or 10th grade, yet even after a second year of study, relatively few were proficient in the subject.
Of those who took the class in eighth grade and repeated it as freshmen, just 1 in 5 scored at a proficient level on standardized tests. And of those who repeated as sophomores, 9 percent were proficient.
"These results provide powerful evidence that school systems are struggling to successfully teach, or reteach, mathematics to students who are not already performing well in math by the time they reach middle school," said Neal Finkelstein, the lead researcher on the study, which was commissioned by the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning at WestEd. ...
All told, half of all students in the study repeated algebra, geometry or Algebra II.
Yet many students retake the same course taught the same way, sometimes by the same teacher, according to the authors.
Researchers found that the majority of students who were proficient in Algebra I at the end of eighth grade followed an accelerated math track of geometry in ninth grade and Algebra II in 10th grade.
And those students made up the vast majority - 75 percent - of all those in their class who would ever become proficient in algebra by high school graduation.
Not a single student who earned below a grade of D in seventh-grade math went on to take calculus in high school, according to researchers.
(Excerpt) Read more at sfgate.com ...
Everyone learns math differently. If the method of teaching failed to teach, trying the same thing again is not really going to work if the student was motivated.
Now that is funny considering all the crappy stuff publik skoolz do and spend money on.
His first lesson was...."First.....forget everything your teacher said".
Let's take a look at the math teachers.
I was awful in algebra. I scored barely well enough to advance to geometry. One day in geometry I had a B.F. Skinner-type “white light” moment. From that moment on I was an A student in math and went on to major in Math at college.
You have to share. I tried looking it up but no success.
Good for you! Most people never have such a moment. How did yours happen for you?
True, so true.
1) Must want to learn it, or wasting time.
2)Instructor must be capable of explainng it in a way to enable understanding by the motivated student.
I still remember my grades in 10th grade second year algebra, 3 D’s and C. Well in college I took college algebra and earned a B. Still later four quarters of calculs and differential equations-all A’s and
Bs. Linear algebra and matrix algebra-A’s. Part of it was me, part of it was probably the book and the teacher.
But mostly I got older, more mature, and my reading skills improved.
Skinner used to say that learning can and should continue throughout life and referred to the joy of intellectual illumination as concepts became clear. And sure enough, that moment where the previous years algebra and all subsequent math learning just made sense was, as I recall, almost orgasmic. I’ve yearned to repeat that sensation but have fallen short in the following half century.
Let's tell the truth here: Teachers failing to teach algebra rarely recover.
Few public school teachers could pass second or third grade plusses, minuses, timeses, and gazintas; let alone teach eighth or ninth grade algebra or geometry.
I can't say for sure. I suspect I just recognized patterns more effectively in geometry, which is more visual. It (algebra) all beclame clear in an instant. Sorry, that's the best way that I can describe it.
Algebra is largely unimportant in most peoples lives. How to manage finances etc. should be the major emphasis of general higher mathematical education.
In college I survived college algebra, trig, analytic geometry and calculus.
My qualified opinion:
If things aren't right at home there ain't nothing gonna work - some kid's in trouble.
Get things straightened out at home and a talented person who GAF can make a world of difference for a young person.
I can recall a particular conversation I had with a gentleman who taught math at a certain university near my home that I credit with making the difference for me. It took him about 30 minutes to convince me that I could learn math.
I don't even recall the guy's name any more but he made a difference in my situation simply because he GAF.
Sometimes called an Epiphany. I’ve had that feeling several time while in flight training. All of a sudden something made sense. I did finally find about it by searching just his name.
>> Just over a third of students in the 24 school districts studied had to repeat Algebra I either in ninth or 10th grade,
That’s pathetic. No doubt a consequence of the elementary curriculum.
Maybe they reached the limit of their ability to handle the subject matter and should be tracked into practical application of basic math to prepare them for the future to the best of their ability?
Nah. That’s discriminatory. Got to clog up the college preparatory track with students who cannot grasp the subject matter, in the interest of “fairness.”
Here is the deal with this. If these kids actually did their homework they would pass it just fine. Now by homework I don’t mean just the assigned problems at the end of the chapter. You do ALL OF THEM.
Most math textbooks have the answers in the back to either the odd or even problems. The instructor book has the answers to all the even numbered problems worked out. So when quiz/test time comes...where does the instructor go to get the problems for that exam? Could it be the instuctor’s book? The exam is the even problems or some set of problems similar?
This was my experience in every mathematics class I took in high school through partial differential equations and numerical analysis in college.
You don’t do the assigned....you do them all, and you will get an easy “A” because you have seen the problem before. Problem #7 on the exam was # 22 on page whatever from the relevant chapter.
My cousin is a 9th grade math teacher...having been an engineer most of his life, he transitioned to being a public school teacher two years ago.
The stories he tells about the utter lack of mathematical ability on the part of at least 70% of his kids is just mind boggling. And through it all, the idea that any kid would have to damage him or herself so viciously by having to, say, memorize a multiplication table is just appalling. The assumption is made that a calculator will always be present, and they are supplied...but he has kids who cannot translate the symbols on paper into button pushes. He has kids who have no idea how to use a ruler to measure the width of a piece of paper. And give them a word problem and they are absolutely lost.
In my conversations with him he describes kids who have no inherent interest nor curiosity in being able to see if they can solve a problem. Their approach is simply to do the minimum work required to achieve a passing grade. But they have zero interest in doing any better than a “C”. It’s almost like his kids are in a union....where doing better is tacitly (but de facto) discouraged because it would make the others look bad. He has an emphasis on checking your work...not just to see if the process and answer are valid, but to see if the result is reasonable. IOW, if it takes 4 hours to drive from X to Y, the answer to a “mph” question ought not be 3,000 mph if the the two towns in the problem are nearby towns that everyone has heard of. And they never, ever check their work...they get an answer and that’s the end of it. They don’t really seem to care whether they are right or wrong. They don’t care whether or not they understood the question or were able to formulate the solution process.
I’d go stark raving mad under the conditions he describes.
If the student was motivated.
That's the key. I'm not here to defend the public schools, but, once upon a time, it was the responsibility of the child to get an education.
Algebra is challenging -- but not that tough if the prerequisites have been learned. A majority of the students in this school system probably passed Algebra. I don't lose sleep and I hate to lose more tax dollars fretting over the others.
Our entire country, including the education system, is being geared toward the failures. I mean, just look at the last election results.
At least 3/4 of the failures occur because for one reason or another, the student does not try and does not care.
The reasons for that are many and varied. But it’s not that hard to learn if you want to learn it.
Since you asked, IMO it’s a lethal combination causing such self destructive behavior; 1) lack of parenting and 2) culture of shunning responsibility.
Kids do not think there is any consequence for failing to give effort.
as a homwschooler, i made the decision that my son should repeat Algebra 1 (so he covered it in 8th and 9th grade)... he didn’t fail it the first year, but he didn’t ace it either... i know that math is “developmental...” he understood it at a greater level the second time... i was much more comfortable moving him on after his second time completing it... now he actually has been able to tutor college students in Algebra...
Let's go check out Facefarque instead..........maybe have a couple joints while we are at it.
I took the required Algebra courses in high school and made As. In college I took the course on sets and math theory that was referred to as “Math for Poets.”
After 50 successful years in business and education I can truthfully say I was never once confronted with a problem that needed algebra.
We don’t require folks who are interested in physics, math or engineering to learn how to do legal briefs. I’ve never understood why requiring algebra is somehow a ‘given’ in the education system.
I don't even recall the guy's name any more but he made a difference in my situation simply because he GAF.
God bless this man.
But fools multiply rapidly.
It is unrealistic to expect all students to take and pass advanced math. That’s life and we spend a lot of time and money in a failed effort to prove the lie.
It’s also a lie that all teachers are able and prepared to teach advanced acadmeic level courses. A lot of teachers are unable to accomplish the advanced math understanding and knowledge they are expected to teach. It’s over their heads.
Algebra is racist (and islamist to boot!).
I thought Algebra was invented by the Egyptians before they became Islamic.
Boolean Logic seems fairly Algebraic to me.
One thing I think should be taught, as early as grade school, is what taxes are and what they’re used for.
A child should know her local sales tax rate and know how to calculate it and apply it to a purchase. She should also know about local postal rates and how much it costs to send a package somewhere.
A parent could set up a child with a simple savings account and teach them about interest rates and how they cause savings to grow (yeah, I know interest rates on savings are almost nonexistent these days, far behind the rate of inflation).
While we’re at it: teach them about inflation, and the present value of money.
I think these things would be a good start.
Or: building a playhouse. Even if the kids are using scrap cardboard, take a ruler or tape measure and help them figure out dimensions and square footage.
If you don’t work the problems and don’t go to class chances are you will fail. If you didn’t learn your arithmetic tables in the first and second grade it is GUARANTEED you will fail. This is not a new story. we have dumbed down arithmetic and math courses over the years. It is a disgusting and pointless exercise at this point
It makes a good NASA outreach story. The name is Arabic.
I failed Algebra in 1964 and I’m still not over it.
Note, it was a class taught by the second string
foot ball coach, they used us as an experiment.
The best indicator I’ve found between an employment applicant capable of learning high-level skills while on the job is a simple test equivalent to those given years ago to pass 8th grade math.
Math requires a combination of natural aptitude and sufficient self-discipline to complete exercises commonly assigned as homework. This doesn’t attract those who prefer spending their middle school years developing their personalities through non-academic pursuits, like cliquish behavior, gossip and scheming.
I recommend math tests given upfront as a screening device.
If a candidate hasn’t focused themselves enough to take on the challenge of mastering an individual practice which gives little gratification (like math) at a young age, then it’s a good bet that even on the job they will become the equivalent of a “taker” (by attempting to manipulate other employees into doing their work and playing office politics, for example).
Not even close. The California class rooms use so damned many different techniques it is more astonishing that everyone doesn’t get it. The children failing algebra 1 in California tend to not go to class, not do the home work, and have NO ability to do simple arithmetic (you remember those tables you learned in first and second grade). Nice try though
I used to "tax" my kids Halloween hauls. It made them realize that it's basically theft.
Algebra is actually very simple...and it is usually terribly taught. I hated it until I took a college class for teaching math in the primary grades from a woman who was herself a truly gifted teacher. She showed us that algebra (and geometry) were just more ways of saying and doing the same basic mathematical operations and simply expanded on them or adapted them to different situations - 3 dimensional space, for example, or even logic operations. And we did this using the Montessori bean sticks...(plus she really loved her subject, which most math teachers do not).
So there are some subjects in which the fault really may lie not so much with the student or the individual teacher as with the method of teaching the subject.
That'll learn 'em!
Maybe algebra should be outlawed by executive order? It is so clearly divisive. Or perhaps, in the interest of the prevailing idea of fairness in America, the grades of those people who are unfairly learning it and scoring higher should be taxed of points to use in bringing up the grades of those most in need?
LOL. That word is also one of the basic constructs of Electrical Engineering, along with gozoutas.
Same for maps or navigating in cities and such. I can see the map overlay of the area as I travel down streets in my head even if I've never looked at an actual physical map of the area.
But algebra is still a mystery to me and I've tried several times over the years with computer programs and tutors. Apparently its just not something I am going to get.
Algebra is not “advanced math.”
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