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Fluffy math has consequences

May 5, 2013 by

Thousands of students in Montgomery County failed final exams in high school math courses last semester, according to data that raise questions about how well students have learned the material and whether there is a disconnect between the test and the course work.

Recently released figures show failure rates of 62 percent for high school students taking the county’s geometry final and 57 percent for those taking the Algebra 2 exam. Among students taking the same courses on the honors level, 30 percent to 36 percent failed the end-of-semester tests in January, according to data from the school system.

The numbers have alarmed parents in the high-performing school system, where nearly 16,000 high school students in seven math courses did not pass their finals — a majority of the roughly 30,000 students taking those tests.

Schools Superintendent Joshua P. Starr said a work group would begin meeting this summer to unravel the reasons behind the poor test results, which he said could involve issues of teaching, student support, or alignment between the curriculum and the exam.

Starr said that he did not know how long the problem has been going on that he has requested historical data showing exam failure rates for the past five years.

“It’s certainly a concern to me that this many kids failed,” Starr said, adding that “exam failure does not mean course failure.” School officials said they did not have data on course failure but noted that two-thirds of Montgomery’s students earn a C or higher in Algebra 1 by the end of ninth grade.

via Thousands flunk math finals in Montgomery – The Washington Post.

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