2013 September 04 Wednesday
More Kids In Algebra II: Done With Lower Standards

The quest to close the Great American Test Score Gap has corrupted another course in high school: Algebra II.

Getting more students to take higher level math courses may be a hollow victory. It has not coincided with students learning more math. Figure I shows the average NAEP scores for Algebra II completers (in the following discussion, “completers” include students enrolled in the course when they took NAEP). As enrollments boomed, test scores went down. Caution must be exercised in infering causality. We cannot be certain of a causal connection between rising enrollments and falling scores, but it is certainly plausible—even likely--that enrollment gains have been achieved by drawing in students who are not prepared to take the course.

This underscores the need for independent testing services to measure how much we know. High school diplomas can't signal much due to political pressures to lower standards. We need those independent tests even more beyond high school. See Audacious Epigone's "College Exit Exams As Siege Engines for Storming the Cathedral".

We need many more online testing options for practice and then proctored in-person testing to measure for businesses just how much we know.

Admissions standards to colleges have been corrupted by the desire to make all races and ethnic groups do equally well in school. As Education Realist points out in a great essay on the corruption of testing for college admissions, the big push for college exit exams is a reaction to this corruption.

There is an upside to all this. Businesses will begin to doubt the value of a UC Berkeley or UCLA degree (among others). This will increase the demand for exit testing. If the use of exit tests and later life tests becomes widespread as screens when hiring then the demand for bricks and mortar college education will go down and corrupt colleges will shrink in size.

What could help this process along: the ability to link one's online resume to validated test results so that, say, a recruiter could look at your LinkedIn, Facebook, G+, or other online profile and know you scored well by uncorrupted measures. Companies would not need to request scores. Certifications and scores would be there for anyone to look at.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2013 September 04 09:53 PM 

James Bowery said at September 5, 2013 11:34 AM:

You're under the mistaken assumptions, both of which seem to be true:

1) The market is efficient at displacing network-externality seekers (private sector rent seekers).
2) That the people doing the hiring care about stockholder value.

Taxing economic activity rather than liquidation value amounts to subsidy for wealth, which invalidates #1.

This then enables parasites to infect #2 with their own agendas not aligned with the stockholders.

I was pushing the PLATO marketing folks at CDC to pursue the equivalent of exit testing with the PLATO system back in 1979. The response was basically that to first order corporations don't care about competence so much as they care for compliant personalities as demonstrated by the acquisition of a diploma -- regardless of the field.

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