Monday, December 28, 2009

Middle schoolers fail at math

My local Si Valley newspaper has two articles today on the importance of math education in middle school.
A section B1 article said:
Valley eighth-graders who attended a four-week summer class aimed at preparing them for algebra improved in math proficiency by 20 percent, the class's sponsor has reported.

Organizers are so pleased with the results that they hope to expand the Stepping Up to Algebra program from 400 students last summer to 750 next summer. That would provide a badly needed boost to education, as a tight budget squeeze is expected to cut summer school programs in districts throughout the county. ...

The foundation and others have focused on math and science education, particularly algebra, for several reasons.

One is to better prepare students to join the high-tech workforce.

But another is more basic. The greatest single predictor of college success is whether a student has become proficient in Algebra II. And to enroll in that high school course, a student needs to pass Algebra I, normally part of the eighth-grade curriculum.
An op-ed said:
Thirteen-year-old Kayla Savage was failing math. Like many of her classmates in middle school, she hated the subject. Stuck in a large seventh-grade class with a teacher who had little time to offer individual help, Kayla was lost among rational numbers and polynomials.

Her frustration led to a phobia of math, an all-too-common affliction that often starts in middle school and threatens to derail students' future math studies in high school and chances for college.

Kayla is like thousands of students across America who struggle with math. The struggle in California is borne out by this grim U.S. Education Department statistic: Students in California rank 40th in eighth-grade math, a critical year in math learning that sets the path for math success in high school and beyond.
I had a CPS worker, Sally Mitchell, tell me that it was child abuse to teach math to a girl. And Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph took my kids away (in part) because I had entered my daughter in a math contest that was above her grade level. He made a big point of it in his judgment.

The daughter's school barely teaches math at all. All of the teachers hate math. They can't hire any men to teach, because all men are suspected child abusers. The female teachers are good at certain aspects of teaching, but not math.

We have a lot of Chinese and Indian families in Si Valley. If the schools are bad at math, then they teach their kids after hours or have them tutored. They are not content to just have their kids learn pattycake at school.

I still don't see how Cmr. Joseph or anyone can object to the math contest. The contest was sponsored by the County and open to all students. All except my daughters, I guess.


Professor Hale said...

Students in California rank 40th in eighth-grade math...

A worthless metric. Anything as well defined as math can surely be graded on a more objective scale than "better than Mississippi". Math should never be graded on a curve. This also applies to grading the performance of schools teaching it.

Good observations on the competency of math instruction. It could have something to do with teacher's colleges not requiring it (or any other real academic content) to get your certificate. Teachers colleges tend to have the lowest performing students in all areas as measured by entrance exam scores.

Anonymous said...


you're right about the math, but it's never been about math contests, vegetable rotation, hairbrushing, alarm clocks, etc..
It's been about them going after assets/income, down the road !!!

Your points have been well made. Further debate only feeds into their characterization that you're rigid, argumentative, and have a strong desire to be "right"

You're right, but don't allow them to bait you into proving it.

Maybe it's a're a sort of "christian, libertarian, mathmatician" Your sent to a gay psych., who critisizes your long hair. Then, to a school that immediately brings up spanking. Then, you're critisized for the math contest issue.

Very sorry to generalize about you, but my point is that, maybe they know your "buttons" and push them, to set you off ?

Do you think that it's common for comm. joseph, and cps to attack parents for placing them in academic contests ?

For you, it's always been about what's best for your kids. For them, it's always been about what's best for their wallets, now, and especially in the coming months and years !!

George said...

There are other situations where Cmr. Joseph and CPS have gone after parents for trivial complaints. If they did not have a math contest to complain about, they would have complained about something else.

R33Mag said...

If there is anything consistent about Commandant Joseph, it's that his decisions defy logic.

Anonymous said...


I think that you and the other person commenting, lost my point.

Agreed, the would have come up with some other trivial issue other than a math contest. My point is that they didn't. They used the math contest in particular.

Does this "defy logic" or is this actually, logical ?