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Re: [Phys-l] Ca mandates 8th-grade algebra test

Unfortunately the people who make the mandates do not have a clue as to the
appropriateness of the mandate, or how to test students before they go into
algebra. They have bought into the idea that noodling students will get
better results. In geese it results in spoiled livers. While this delights
the gourmets, it does not enhance the survival fitness of the geese.

Actually the students need to first learn how to do problems without
algebra. Most word problems can be done without any higher math other than
proportional reasoning and conservation reasoning. The big problem is that
they have no clue as to what a variable is. This is where Thinking Science
comes in. It first gets them to construct the idea of a variable, and then
has them use it using proportional reasoning. Finally at the end 60 weeks
later it has them generate formal models. But this is done without algebra.

There is evidence that up to 85% of adults can test at the formal
operational level after an intervention. This is mentioned in Arons book
where it is done with elementary school teachers.

Now if you want a testing program, look at Feuerstein's writings. He has a
program that tests, and then a program that intervenes. Since he has raised
measured IQ values 30% or more, his work can serve as a good paradigm.

John M. Clement
Houston, TX

I don't understand why the state doesn't mandate a screening process to
properly place students. Then hopefully the coursework could be used to
pull students from concrete operational to formal operational. I know
this still leaves room for a bad screening mechanism and does not have the
currently favored 'high stakes test' directly attached, but it seems more
appropriate to a larger number of students.

My second choice - Non-Euclidian Geometry for all 8th graders. Why not
think outside the 4 straight lined congruently right angled box? I mean
if we are really gonna push them...