Disturbing, not surprising…

Ah good…at least it’s not just me.

Chaperoned a field trip with the freshmen to a community college today.  Granted, they have an “open admissions” policy, so anyone with a high school diploma applying to the school gets accepted.  The data is slightly skewed because of the clientele being served, but it’s not as far off from the mainline as one might expect/hope for.

The former chair of the math/science division was talking about placement exams for all incoming students, as a part of the requirements for acceptance and class scheduling.  Math 050 is algebra.  Math 020 is pre-algebra.  These courses can be taken for college credit.  They will count towards the degree.  Math 010 is more basic than pre-algebra.  Working with fractions, decimals, negatives, proportions, etc…

Anyway, she said that over the past 5 years, an average of just over THREE PERCENT of incoming students place above pre-algebra.  Really?  Pre-algebra?  The most advanced we get in pre-algebra is like…solving 1, maybe 2 step equations?  Proportions?  Percents?  Fractions?  And less than 3%?

OK, so a lot of people say “well I’m an adult, and I forget how to do algebra.”  Point taken, not necessarily smiled upon, but taken.  But these, in the majority of cases, are students fresh out of a high school career where they probably are not more than 1 year removed from doing algebra as part of a higher math class.  And if they are more than 1 year removed, chances are they were on a faster track and not likely to forget how to do pre-algebra.  Blah, it’s just frustrating.  Someone who wanted to be a nurse said to me the other day, “I’ll never use algebra, why do I have to take it?”  Really?  So if that IV you’re placing needs to be released into my fragile, sick body, at a certain rate with not a huge window for error before I become a rich man from suing the hospital (if I live tot tell the tale), you won’t have to figure ANYthing out?  Just stick it in and hope?  I sure I hope that some of those 3% went on to be nurses, or else I better look at becoming a hermit.

No math.  Psh.  In what universe?


About Mr. T

Well, I'm interested in math. Teaching it, learning it, describing it, living it. Creating it. Most importantly (to me) is helping others appreciate it as much as I do.
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