Friday, January 8, 2016

Favorite comments of '15, CONCLUDED: Barry Garelick, and Anonymous

On Is there a good excuse for textbooks math getting easier?


Anonymous said...
"In the 1960s, textbooks had harder problems in them because the vast majority of Americans never came close to completing high school"

According to this ...

www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0779196.html


... roughly 75% completed high school in 1960. Yes, the rate is higher now, but to say "the vast majority never came close" in 1960 is not true. Is Griswold trying to imply high school in 1960 catered to group as exclusive as today's Philips Exeter?
 
Barry Garelick said...
I had the same reaction to Griswold's statement, so I'm glad you looked this up. His statement is similar to the bromide one constantly hears that "traditional math worked only for a small group of people". Yet ITBS scores from the 40's through mid 60's in math went on a steady climb for the states of Iowa, Indiana and Minnesota.

What might be a more accurate and responsible statement is that high school diplomas did not require three years of math; many students graduated with two years of math. Which meant that there were many students who took only algebra 1 and geometry, but not algebra 2 and precalculus.

Anonymous said...
@ Barry: or, two years of math that were called Business Math, which really meant two years when arithmetic skills through fractions and decimals were really solidified, word problems inched into algebra, and personal finance/business practices were introduced. I remember this; may students in my town took this course sequence. It would have been a much better option, for one of my children, in the 1990's, than Algebra 2 and Geometry. And she is not below average in intelligence.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

When I was in HS,in the 60s, even small schools like mine had a college-prep track, a general track and some vocational options (in my school, a dynamite secretarial program). Only the college-prep kids took the algebra 1-geometry-alg 2-trig path. The others took the kind of math described above. The idea that everyone should take college prep is ridiculous and unnecessary - not to mention impossible for many to handle (hence the current watering-down and grade inflation).

Barry Garelick said...

See also this article which addresses tracking practices of the past and how current system is an implied tracking system.