The implementation, of the MD HSA Algebra (and Data Analysis) test as an end-of-year exam and and as a graduation requirement, will likely result in a major dumbing down of math education in Maryland. Read: Beware the MD Algebra Test - (Presented at the Nov., 2002 MD-DC-VA Sectional Meeting of the MAA.) Montgomery County Public Schools may be taking the lead:
"State and county math standards hurt student performance" in Silver Chips, (Dec. 18, 2003), the student newspaper of Blair High School (Silver Spring, MD) Two quotes: "MCPS [Montgomery County Public Schools] mandated changes to the Algebra I curriculum to align the course with the tested material [MD's Algebra Exam]. 'We don't think the material is what they need to know to be successful [in Algebra II and Precalculus],' said Blair H.S. algebra lead teacher Maria Costello".
"Changes in the curriculum are cited as a main cause for students' deficiencies
in basic algebra, which are manifesting themselves in higher
level math courses that require an understanding of concepts taught
in Algebra I. 'Our Algebra II students are worse than ever. Our Pre-Calculus
students are worse than ever. It's falling apart as we go up the
ladder,' said Costello."
Really Qualified Math Teachers Should be Required (My presentation at the Oct. 28, 2003 meeting of the MD State Board of Education.)
Do the Math: Easy Test for Teachers Will Hurt Students Washington Post PG Extra Forum (December 4, 2003)
Relatedly, on the importance of having qualified teachers: Certified Teachers Needed .
2. Much wrong Algebra and misleading Data Analysis. The MD Pretend Algebra and Pretentious Data Analysis exam includes much misleading and wrong Algebra and Data Analysis. Some examples in Beware the MD Algebra Test (Items 4 and 6 and end of #3)
3. Adding 3 + 5 and solving 2x = 200 without a calculator not required.
MD's Pretend Algebra Exam Versus Students Learning Simple Math The overuse of trusty calculators on the exam will lead to their overuse in MD high schools and middle schools which in turn, will result in more students needing to take remedial math when they enter college as well as high school graduates not fluent in Arithmetic. Relatedly, "With 'Pretend' Testing, a Poor Imitation of Preparing Students" by Karin Chenoweth in her Dec. 25, 2003 Homeroom column in Montgomery Extra Section of Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A28031-2003Dec24?language=printer) She writes: "I now call the test a 'pretend algebra' exam and fear that it will undermine mathematics instruction throughout the state."
4. If Johnny can't read, then he can't pass MD Algebra exam. The reading level of the students, demanded by the MD Pretend Algebra and Pretentious Data Analysis exam is higher than the math level required of the students. Large numbers of students should not be flunking a math exam because of reading. Two reading problems masquerading as an Algebra problem and a data analysis problem are listed in When It Comes To Math, Words Count , Washington Post. Outlook Sunday September 8, 2002.
5. Math Level on HSA Algebra Exam NOT a Step Up
The math level required of the students is not clearly a step up from that of MD Functional Math exam. It should be. If one looks at just the level of the math done by the students, then the MD Pretend Algebra Exam is a step to the side. The exam sidesteps the math; this includes, but is not limited to leaving the bulk of the math to the hand calculators. Also the exam includes misleading and wrong Algebra and Data Analysis, which is counterproductive. Students no longer need to be able to add 3+5 without a calculator.
6. The California Path to Remedial Math. The math section, of the Maryland State Dept. of Education (MSDE), has been colonized by the MATH Reform movement, which is lead by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). During the period, when "Reform" instruction was becoming official state policy and was being increasingly used in the California schools, with "pretend" Algebra replacing real Algebra, the remediation rate in mathematics (Algebra) skyrocketed from 23% in 1989 to 54% in 1998 for freshmen in the Cal. State University System. Absurd.
7. Cover-up for the Algebra the students are not learning.
As stated, the official title "MD HS A on Functions, Algebra, Data Analysis and Probability" is such a gross exaggeration as to highly misleading to parents and students. Needed a "Truth in labeling" law for state exams. At least rename it the MD Math Exam.
Arithmetic problems are also Masquerading as Algebra on the MD Algebra test, in Free For All in Washington Post Saturday, September 7, 2002.
"State math test dumbs down curriculum", Viewpoint, Prince George's Journal, July 3, 2001
Easy arithmetic solutions to five of the more difficult problems on the sample MD HSA Algebra (and Data Analysis) test are presented in Supposedly Difficult Arithmetic Word Problems mentioned below.