Sunday, November 29, 2009

If Algebra = "X", and careers = "Z", then find "Y".

A story in today's "Baltimore Sun" has a troubling headline: Algebra II test indicates 15% ready for college.

I'm amazed that a mere math test can determine a person's readiness for college.  I guess based on that one test then maturity level has nothing to do with college readiness. I also guess being self-motivated and goal oriented have nothing to do with college readiness either.  I could go continue on with other examples of what I think determines college "readiness" but I will admit that was not the main focus of the article.

However, it does seem that many educational "experts' and politicians have decided students who can't handle Algebra II are unfit for college. It wasn't until recently that I realized what a "gatekeeper course" Algebra II has become.

Is Algebra II really a vital course for every college major? Aren't there many careers which require a college degree that don't involve such high level mathematics as Algebra II?

Personally, I never attempted an Algebra II class, but I believe I have been successful in both the technical job marketplace and in my career as a teacher. But in retrospect, if Algebra II had been a requirement for me, I most likely would have chosen a different career path that didn't involve a college degree.

If Algebra II is such an important course to every student and every career, shouldn't our educational "experts" and politicians provide some insights and real support on different ways of teaching Algebra II so more people can truly learn it?