Monday, May 18, 2015

algebra common core regents

I wonder if I should bother writing about the algebra regents when this is a chinuch homeschool blog.  But I have a few thoughts to share.  Chana sat down for 3 hours to take a practice test today.  As I suspected, she's solidly in the 70s.  She had one crying fit an hour in, but soldiered on and finished the test.  Preparing for the test is causing her pain, anger, and frustration.  And I don't think it's actually teaching her any more math.

I recall back to my experience with Sarah and the algebra regents.  I had major problems teaching the statistics and probability portion of the regents.  It didn't make much sense to me and I had Ari do a lot of it with her.  Guess what.  It's six years later and that subject is no longer on the regents.

I suspect that the problems that Chana is dealing with may end up with a similar fate within a decade.  Some of it is statistics.  Some of it is knowing how to use the calculator (I taught Chana algebra without a calculator and she had to learn to graph everything by hand).

I wonder why I am making her sit through this test.  I had wanted to prove to me and to herself that she could excel in the academic standards set forth by society.  Instead, she will get an average score and we've spent hours doing problems with her saying "What does this have to do with algebra" and "I can't remember how to do this because it's arbitrary."  And now she despises math.  She doesn't want to do any math next year.  It's going to take a year before I can convince her to do geometry.  And will she ever have the joy of learning algebra II and trig?

The 75% that she does know indicates, in my opinion, a pretty decent grasp of algebra, with some careless mistakes and some forgetfulness.

The other disadvantage that Chana is working with is that there are only 2 official tests for her to study from (the test was changed this past June, and there is only June and August).  In addition to learning algebra, Chana had to learn how to take tests.  When Sarah was taking the regents, there were years and years of algebra regents for her to practice from.  We went to the NYS regents website and printed test after test after test.  Chana had a little booklet with 4 practice tests and 2 actual tests.  She did the 4 practice tests already in order to learn what types of questions are on tests.  And she took one regents as practice.  I'm saving the last one for after she studies some more.  But what should she study?  The best way to learn how to take the test is to take more tests.  It's mid-May.  She has a month which would actually be ample time for her to take more and more tests to improve her test taking skills.  Unfortunately, those tests aren't available.  I think this, too, will affect her grade.

It's a good thing that the state is perfectly satisfied with a 70 on the regents, and that this test is actually meaningless in terms of her life and her educational goals.  From a homeschooling perspective, I do feel that a professional teacher would almost certainly have done a better job at teaching this course than I did.  If it were truly important, I suppose I could have gotten her tutoring to better prepare her for the test.  I believe that she is good at math, and has the brain capacity to score above a 90 on this test if she had been taught more adeptly.

Perhaps this is an indictment of homeschooling, that a student with the capacity to excel is doing average work.  Or perhaps this is an indictment of testing, where a student with the capacity to enjoy math ends up despising it.

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