Thursday, October 31, 2013

A problem with Common Core Math Standards at the High School Level

I've explained my concern about the weak high school math in Common Core many times before, but here it goes again as I’ve had many questions lately.

In the Common Core Math Standards, Algebra I is not completed in 8th. That creates a problem for students interested in stem fields, and also for students that may have latent abilities in mathematics which may not develop in high school as a result.

CC high school math (years 1 to 3) is an amalgam similar to Alg1, Geo, Alg2(light) in my opinion.

There are currently 4 years in high school. Common Core lays out 3 years but did not provide a stem alternative for acceleration during those 3 years, so this is what we have to work with:

1- CC hs math year 1
2- CC hs math year 2
3- CC hs math year 3 – doesn’t complete Alg 2 imo and would not prepare
students to take PreCalc/Trig at my school currently.
4 - Students have the following options for math during their senior year. None of these include AP Calculus. Remember, the College Board found that Common Core high school math does not “reconcile” with AP Calculus (and I agree!)

The students’ choices at this point are limited to three options:
A) AP Statistics B) PreCalc/Trig or C) try to complete both simultaneously

Option A) If they chose the AP Stats class senior year, to try to get some college credit while in high school, then they would really be two years behind in stem math progression on entry to college, and would have also had a entire school year between Algebra 2 (light) and PreCalc/CollegeAlg/Trig - (definitely not an ideal situation...)

BTW – This option is what a College Board Senior Vice President recommended to school superintendents! “If you’re worried about AP Calculus and fidelity to the Common Core, we recommend AP Statistics and AP Computer Science”

Option B) They could take precalc/trig during senior year, but as some of you know, the ACT determines scholarship money for many, many students. Efforts on that test and applications for colleges and scholarship start late junior year and finish early senior year for most students. (Ask one!)

Option C) is not viable in my opinion. The slow pace of Common Core math from 7th though 11th grades leaves students woefully underprepared for trigonometry in particular and will create an unnecessarily steep learning curve if they choose this “option” during senior year.


Anonymous said...

I went to a quite large suburban, very top of the game, high school in the 90s. The sequence was Algebra, Geometry, Alegbra II and Trig/Calculus, minus status, for many students. We had a number of Catholic school students who came over not having had Algebra and most of these Catholic school students went on to study STEM subjects in school.

concerned said...

That sequence could be very effective if the Algebra II was high quality, in which case a separate math analysis/ precalc course isn't really necessary prior to calculus.

I'm not sure I understand your point though. Did the students begin at your school during freshmen year? And did they end their high school math with trig/calculus?

What do you believe contributed most to their success in stem field?

(I will try to publish your comments later today, sorry for any delay)