on May 19, 1998
HS Algebra: short vs long term results
I was fascinated by the report of the PRIME project, posted under
"Reports from the Field," on Emerging Student Outcomes."
One finding was that students using the PRIME materials scored lower
than the comparison group on Algebra procedures after the first course,
but surpassed the control group after the second year course. The PRIME
group was also higher than the comparison group in conceptual
understanding after the first course.
This finding represents the dilemma faced by teachers in high stakes
accountability systems. The PRIME evaluators were fortunate to be using
an objective measure which assessed understanding and application of
mathematical knowledge as well as procecural proficiency. All too often
teachers are being held accountable for rapid, one year gains in
procedural proficienty with no measurement of understanding or
application. In that situation is it any wonder that our district is
seeing students who do find on state tests of procedural proficiency,
only to "burn out" in upper level math and science courses because they
are not developing adequate conceptual understanding at the same time.
The PRIME data also indicates it may take more than one year to see the
gains in procedural as well as conceptual knowledge.
How 'bout the rest of you? What are your teachers experiencing from
accountability measures re what is important for students to learn in
math? Are you finding any assessment tools that are useful in measuring
conceptual understanding and application, as well as procedural