Friday, April 18, 2008

Discussion of Algebra 2 End of Course Exam from ADP/Achieve/Pearson - Continued...

Unfortunately, I did not receive permission from Pearson Educational Measurement to reproduce any of the released items from the Achieve website. I will respect their wishes. However, they understand that I plan to discuss some of the items indirectly without specifics. For this to make sense to my readers, you will need to download the pdf document as suggested in an earlier post and have that in front of you as I refer to individual items. Here is the link to the Achieve website that contains the released items (in the sidebar).

For this post, however, I plan to discuss the implications of this exam and related issues.

I would like to invite comments about the issues raised by a common exam that will be administered to students in 14 states (up from the original 9). I consider this to be a highly significant development in the movement toward more standardization for all students. Up to this point, the only similar kind of interstate standardized test covering Algebra 2 topics has been the SAT Subject Test - Math I. Several states now give their own end of course exams in Algebra I and Algebra 2, but the Algebra 2/ADP exam from Pearson is impacting on students from many states and this is just the beginning of this trend. For example, a similar exam for Algebra I is already under development (if not already completed) and, here in New Jersey, it will become operational shortly.

Furthermore, textbook publishers such as Pearson have already begun to publish texts (e.g., Pearson, Algebra I, 2007) that correlate with the American Diploma Project's Algebra standards (download this). Imagine that! Instead of inserts in the text that correlate to fifty different sets of state standards, we are now going to see some consistency. Glory Hallelujah!

Here are just a few of the issues that each state will have to confront as these exams proliferate:
1) How will a student's grade be determined in the course? Will the exam be worth a percentage of the final grade? What if the results do not come back in a timely fashion?
2) If a student falls below the minimum level of proficiency on the exam (great euphemism/edu-jargon for 'failing'!), how will this be recorded on their transcript?
3) Will the exam be required for graduation just as current graduation tests do in some states?
4) Can a student re-take the exam if they don't make it the first time?
5) Should the Algebra I exam have been developed and implemented before this exam?
6) Will different groups and consortia now compete to develop curricula and assessments independently as a result of the recommendations from Achieve/ADP, the National Math Panel and NCTM's Curriculum Focal Points? More splintering?
7) Will there be more than one administration of these exams each year? For the Algebra 2 Exam, the answer is found on the Achieve website:

The exam will be administered at the end of fall—December and January and at the end of spring—May and June beginning with the 2008-2009 school year.
Ironically, while this exam improves consistency of curriculum, there might not be as much consistency about how these issues will be addressed. Of course, one can hope...

Are these exams intended to impact on instructional methods, emphases, strategies, techniques just as currently occurs on the AP Calculus Exam? If you read through the pdf document and examine the Released Items document (p.4), the answer is clear for the Algebra 2 Exam (the following is an image which will appear blurry);

Your thoughts...


Florian said...

Dave, the link to the pdf seems to be broken.

Right now I'm looking for a resource
(Book or Website) that has lots of
exercises on Algebra II and/or College Algebra.

Since I'm not from the US - Maybe you or one of your reades can recommend a textbook?

Dave Marain said...

Very interesting - that link to the pdf was working fine earlier. I wonder if they took it down temporarily. I will inquire. You can still get to the main page however.

for algebra 2 texts, just Google the main publishers (Glencoe, Prentice Hall, Holt Rinehart & Winston, McDougall Littell, Houghton Mifflin, Addison Wesley, etc.) and look at samples of their Algebra 2 texts. They're all pretty much the same so I won't make any recommendations here.

Also, if the image is too blurry to read, just click on it and it becomes sharp.

I'd still like your opinion on the other points I raised.

Dave Marain said...

I did speak to a representative from Pearson and I received some updated information which O will probably post.
The link to the pdf document for the Released Items is working now. Check your desktop to make sure it appears there (or wherever your documents go). If you have several windows open, it may appear that nothing is happening but it is (in the background).

Again, I'm permitted to discuss the questions indirectly. For example, the first of the 10 items is a straightforward exponential equation (MC format).

I was told that these items all came from the October 2007 Field Test and they were all approved for the operational test. However, some had to be saved for the released items document. I guess they chose a representative sample from different topic areas, different types (multiple-choice, short answer, extended response) and different levels of difficulty. Nice selection IMO. I will have more to say about the upcoming Algebra 1 Field test in October. Also, some of you may not be aware that the exams are offered in both paper and online format. We'll have more to say about this in the future. The online format is becoming more popular but it raises some questions for me.

Anonymous said...

How will we find out how good or bad the exam is?

(I just sent the info to my state's testing guy. He won't be interested, but at least he should be aware...)