Do Common Core State Standards Play a Role?
News articles about 2016 ACT performance in individual school districts are starting to appear, and a comment from the Henderson Gleaner’s coverage of the Henderson County Public School District’s scores caught my eye.
Per the Gleaner:
“While Algebra II is a graduation requirement, most Henderson students don’t take the class until senior year.”
That is a huge problem.
This means that “most” Henderson County students don’t have a ghost of a chance of moving on into real STEM career areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Students who want to go on to STEM careers, in fact students who want to go on to a number of other careers, need to get Algebra II out of the way around Grade 10 so they can take more advanced math such as trigonometry and pre-calculus while still in high school.
Waiting until Grade 12 is just too late.
Furthermore, the Kentucky Department of Education informed me recently that most students in Kentucky take Algebra II in the 11th grade. That is still too late to get ready for STEM, but it is clear that Henderson falls behind even this inadequate rate of progress.
The really cruel joke in all of this is that the Common Core State Standards for math don’t call for anything more advanced than Algebra II, so state KPREP tests cannot test for anything higher. Henderson might not get penalized for its abnormally slow math progression on KPREP because the assessments cannot detect such slow progress (students can take KPREP Algebra II in whatever year they complete the course, even the 12th grade, without penalty to the school).
Meanwhile, Kentucky Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt has called for adding trigonometry and math all the way up to calculus to the state’s current, Common Core only standards.
Let’s hope Commissioner Pruitt is successful. Until he is, many Henderson graduates could pay an opportunity cost they may never overcome.