Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Algebra 2 End of Course Exam - Latest Info

Math teachers, math supervisors/curriculum leaders/specialists as well as students and parents should be interested in reading the latest information regarding this assessment that can be downloaded from the achieve.org website. School leaders should have already received this during the summer when it became available. The links are given below. Several months ago I posted information on this historic consortium that was formed via the American Diploma Project and Achieve. Nine states signed up to participate in this project, including my home state of NJ. Several districts in my state signed up to be part of the pilot project and students in these districts will be taking the assessment in the spring of 2008. There will also be a Field Test this October. As anticipated, a detailed enumeration of the core content for this assessment is now available and can serve as the basis of a syllabus for Algebra 2. From a cursory reading of the core content and the test specifications, I am impressed by the thoroughness of the development team. Moreover, I am struck by the balance struck between a traditional and reformed view of math curriculum and instruction. For example, the test will be in 2 parts, one allowing a graphing calculator and one without. Further, the core content repeatedly refers to student proficiency with multiple representations of functions - graphs, tables, verbal and symbolic expressions - what I've been calling the Rule of Four. Function modeling and problem-solving are considered central themes in the curriculum and the assessment will reflect this.

The core exam will have 60 questions, 50 of which are one-point multiple choice questions, 7 short answer (2 pts. each) and 3 free-response questions (4 pts. each). The non-multiple choice questions therefore account for about one-third of the point value of the test, a significant portion. In addition, schools, districts or states can select optional modules which will expand the assessment. These include Data and Statistics, Probability, Logarithmic functions, Trigonometric Functions, Matrices, Conic Sections and Sequences & Series. Since most algebra 2 curricula include several of these additional topics, I would expect some states to eventually select some of these.

There is no doubt in my mind that this is a positive step for raising the level of mathematics curriculum and instruction in these states and, hopefully, across the country if other states sign on (which I'm sure they will). The test will be developed by Pearson. I will be very interested in reading sample assessment questions when they become available. They will have a definite impact on change in curriculum and instruction. Teachers in courses leading up to Algebra 2 as well as the courses depending on Algebra 2 skills and concepts should also be vitally interested in this project. Algebra 2 is viewed as the gateway course to higher mathematics. The purposes of this project and the assessment are clearly stated in the document you can download (see link below).

Important Links:
Algebra 2 Exam Content and Overview from Achieve
Note: Click on the links under Related Content on the right side. The second link will download the complete pdf document enumerating the standards and detailed test specs. Save this document and share it with your colleagues at upcoming department and school meetings!

ADP Algebra 2 Benchmarks (with examples)

Achieve and the American Diploma Project Home Page

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