More than half the students in these two classes do not have the requisite pre-algebra skills, but the high schools don't offer anything below algebra. But that is half of my point, kids are promoted to the next class when they should not be, then teachers have a huge disparity in skills, making it too hard to teach and unfair for all. In my scenario, these kids get pulled out and put in another math class or if there are close to learning, get individual tutoring. This is all very hard on everyone, but it does not favors to the kids to keep kicking their can down the road. With middle school and high school being different campuses, it makes it very difficult to put them in a lower class that does not exits. Not many school districts think they can do it and most probably think it is too traumatic for the kid. But the real problem is the kid got to 9th grade math when then should not have and probably got to 7th grade math before they should have and maybe go kicked down the road in second grade. It started somewhere and the only solution is to stop it where it starts. Vaccines are cheaper then the ICU, but you are now stuck working in the ICU. That is the problem. Our "system" needs to have the guts to make the tough decisions, which are not really tough if you fix them early. So let's start with math through, say the 6th grade. test them every week. Those could mostly be multiple choice. But multiple choice assumes you fill out a piece of paper and feed it through a reader. Kahn shows us you can have the person calculate the answer and input it. 2+2=? should not have a mulitiple choice option. Lets spend our money there instead of so many of the wasteful things our government does. More testing ideas: the students have to write out all their answers and show work on paper, but then enter the answer in the computer, which grades the final result. The teacher then can look at wrong answers and review student work for misunderstanding. You could see trends, like no one in the class understands this concept, and Johnny just is not getting anything, so I need to bring in help for him because if I gave him the help he needs, the entire class suffers greatly. I may not explain things well, but I have total faith that technology can revolutionize our school system and it is going to come from unexpected places, so we need to be open to seeing it. We need to create flexible environments that allow it to happen and we need to apply strict measurement techniques to very it is working. There are only a few great ways to teach something discrete and objective like math, we should be able to take the best minds in teaching and come up with a technological standard and not have 30,000 people teaching in 30,000 ways (I have no idea how many math teachers there are!) That is the idea behind Kahn Academy. Maybe it is not there yet, but it is a good start.It all sounds easy on paper, I know, but we can get there!
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