Nearly 90% of Buffalo Students Failed NYS Math Exam

Discussion in 'The OT' started by Steve Mehs, Jun 23, 2003.

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  1. Steve Mehs

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    Low math scores stun students and teachers

    A group of Buffalo math teachers gathered in a downtown office where they poured over hundreds of exams. As many as 90 percent of the 10th, 11th and 12th graders in the Queen city who took the math A exam did not pass. The state Education Department is analyzing the results because of the unusually low grades across the state. Seniors have to have passed the exam to graduate and teachers are feeling their pain.

    Joseph Sedita from Riverside High School says, “I was just worried what are we going to do about the kids.”

    State officials have determined that one question on the test could have two answers so the scores are being adjusted accordingly. Seniors that failed the test have one more chance to pass - when the test is given again in August.

    Late Monday morning, the State Education Department asked school districts to fax in the score sheets for seniors. It's uncertain what, if any, action will be taken to adjust the scoring in such a way as to allow some seniors to qualify to graduate.

    http://www.wkbw.com/morenews/morenews.asp#1

    These NY State Regents exams are ridiculous, none of them were really hard for me except for the Bio exam, (which also had controversy due to some questions that had more then one correct answer). You can devote an entire school year to something, but the wording on the Regents is remarkable. Math A I believe is the new Math II (which incorporates, geometry, trig, and all those theroms). The Math II exam I took was tailored just right for me, I ended with with a 92%, I doubt I could pass this new Math A, with come of the questions they showed on the news this afternoon.
     
  2. RichW

    RichW Hall Of Fame/Supporter DBSTalk Gold Club

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    Well, they all must have cheated, hoping to get on the Tonight Show! :)
     
  3. Nick

    Nick Charter Gold Club Member

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    The...
    Could we say that the kids were buffaloed?

    Seriously, I am firmly opposed to state-wide testing in order for a student to advance or graduate. If a student does the coursework, passes the classroom exams and the finals, then that should be enough. Statewide testing, while well intended, is unfair to all students because they are tested on material some of which may have not been emphasized, or even taught during the preceeding school year.

    If an otherwise capable student fails the statewide, that is absolutely indicative of a failure of the system, not the student. However, the negative ramifications for the capable 12th grader who "fails" a "Regents" exam can be devastating and lifelong.

    Why any thinking person would consider statewide testing a good idea is beyond me. :shrug: Sounds like the same mindless people that came up with that brilliant ZERO tolerance disaster. :rolleyes:
     
  4. Frapp

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    Public education of today once again slaps itself in the face :shrug:
     
  5. RichW

    RichW Hall Of Fame/Supporter DBSTalk Gold Club

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    Well, I believe that there should be a minimum proficiency tests at key grade levels. You can't fix something if you can't measure it. Whether failure in a proficiency is the fault of the student or the fault of the system is somewhat immaterial. If a few fail, then it would indicate that individual remedial action is necessary. If large groups fail then it means that something is wrong with the teaching method. People keep wanting to have responsibility in public education, but then resist mechanisms that might prove certain teachers or teaching methods are effective.

    Without knowing all the facts, its hard to say what is wrong in upstate New York. The most likely cause is the test is flawed, rather than dumb students or poor teaching. At least several people are investigating.
     
  6. Steve Mehs

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    For those interested in seeing this past January's exam (or all the other NYS regents) you can check it out here http://www.regentsprep.org/Regents/math/teachres/LinkPage.htm

    The June exam won't be up for another few months. (requires Acrobat Reader)

    It's not just upstate NY, but the whole state. Most districts in Western NY are reporting passing levels of 10%-20% but an article I saw on Yahoo says the numbers are similar all around the state. IMO, the problem isn't with the teachers or students, it's with the NYS Board of Regents. Questions are worded in such a way some questions appear to have no or multiple correct answers, some questions are way too vague. And I really feel the Regents do not accuracy measure a students ability. For example that 92% on the Math II exam from two years ago, I got one of the highest grades in my class and was proud, but both my teacher and I knew that test was perfect for me. All the stuff that I didn't understand was not on the test or emphasized very little, the stuff that I was great at was on the exam. Through out Math II I was pulling 70s, my teacher would always up my average into the 80s because I tried hard, but if I would have taken that exam one year earlier or one year later, with the same exact knowledge I would have never got a 92. Another personal example, last year in English 11 I pulled high 90's, got a 99 on the final project, but on the Regents exam I only got a 70 and I wrote my hand off using every bit of info I could think of.

    I quit Math after my required two years, there was no way I could pass Math III, I took the class for a week and dropped it in favor to be a teacher assistant in a Web Page Design Class. A friend of mine, who is excellent in Math got a 32% on the Math III regents exam. In math, I always thought too hard, I would try to understand what I was doing and just get in deeper, I learned just to memorize equations and theorems, and never attempt to try to understand what they actually mean. :)
     
  7. RichW

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    Thanks for the link, Steve.

    I gather that these are timed tests and three hours is given to complete each one. Is that true?

    Since the answers are also given, I may attempt to take the test if I have 3 hours to spare - just ot see how I would score.

    It appears to me that Math B is a bit easier than Math A. What is the purpose of the two different tests. I would hardly expect 10th graders to pass Math A as many of the concepts appear as advanced algebra, probability & statistics, and even a bit of pre-Calculus.

    The tests certainly are challenging and I believe that anyone who did well certainly has mastered high-school math and would qualify for advanced placement. I also agree that some questions are ambiguous. Others rely upon terminology rather than mathematical reasoning. A couple are definitely "trick" questions. Thes tests are not unlike the "contest" tests I took in High School. It was almost impossible to get a perfect score on those babies and they were really meant to be taken only by students who were up to the challenge. I would agree that the average High Schooler would find Math A to be quite difficult. This is not a test I would use to prove a general proficiency.
     
  8. jonstad

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    Isn't our "illustrious leader" calling for nationwide testing of everything educational including schools and teachers as well as students? All this in an effort to leave no child behind? Of course what has been left behind is all the funding for these mandatory tests at a time when most school districts are deciding which courses to cut and teachers to lay off so they maybe can patch up the plumbing and leaky roof. Now we know what compassionate conservatism is all about.:mad:
     
  9. Steve Mehs

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    Yes. When taking a regents exam you have to stay in the exam room (for me it was always the Gym or Caf) for two hours, after two hours if you're done you can leave, there's a max of three hours per exam. I think the only one I had to spend more the two hours on was the US History exam having to finish up the last essay.

    I didn't read the direction page for the new exam, but in the old Math I, Math II and Math III style exams, Part I had 35 questions, and any 5 can be omitted if your unsure of the answer. But almost everyone omits the last 5 questions on the exam which are usually the most difficult. Part 2 of the exam is longer problems where you have show all work, I think you had to do 4 out of 6 of the problems. Then on Part 3 there were 2 problems and you had to do 1, both are proofs. I was really good on logic proofs. On my exam there was a logic proof on Part 2 and 3 so that was a very easy 20 points for me.
     
  10. ERSanders

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  11. juan ellitinez

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  12. Kevin

    Kevin Icon/Supporter

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    Hah. I'm so glad to be out of that hellhole called high school and their Regents exams.
     
  13. bills976

    bills976 Godfather/Supporter

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    My kids have to take these exams. One is in college at RPI, just finished his first year. If he had taken the bare minimum required of him by New York State, he would have flunked his math courses. Most colleges require freshmen to take Calc I right out of high school without any sort of pre-calculus course. Heck, my son took differential equations first semester freshman year. Quite honestly I can tell you that I think the standards are too low. If someone can't plot a stupid sine or cosine graph, you shouldn't graduate. If you can't do basic algebra, you shouldn't graduate. The Regents Exams ensure that students can meet basic standards, as well as ensuring that local curricula meet those standards as well. Otherwise a NYS issued regents diploma granted by high school X doesn't mean the same thing as the one granted by high school Y.


    Edit:

    I don't think a link to this year's actual exam was included... it's located at: http://www.nysedregents.org/testing/mathre/regentmatha.html
     
  14. Steve Mehs

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    :righton: Great news for seniors who needed this exam to graduate, a victory, and a nice blow to the NYS Board of Regents. Class work, thats how students should be judged, not by some test that in the long run doesn't mean anything. I would be interested in seeing how many students as a whole in the state passed the test.
     
  15. gcutler

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    The only problem with that is each teachers grading is subjective and one teacher might give you a B while another might give you a C for the same work. (Think of the teacher who just gives up on the kids in the back and just gives them a D, while the other teacher who tries to force the knowledge into their heads at any cost) The idea of standardized tests is to bypass all the subjectivness, but as we've discussed here, there is a flaw that way as well.
     
  16. gcutler

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    Having to remember back to my High School days (NY City, 1980-84), Am I remembering wrong that I did not have to pass the regents to graduate??? I remember a teacher saying that the only benefit of passing the regents exams was that on my diploma there was a special stamp on it. And I did get a regents scholarship ($250/year)

    But I remember my district had so many bad students that I got the scholarship, but a friend in college scored like 15% higher than me but didn't get the scholarship because he had a really great school system. Gotta love "the curve" :D A mediocre man can achieve alot if surrounded by losers :p
     
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