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

After 10 years of testing, the results are essentially the same from one
year to the next, and do not deviate more than about 10%. The results are
depressingly similar no matter who the math teachers are. Actually the best
math teachers have been chased out of the school and they claim that public
school students are better in math. This is consistent with the metastudy
comparing private and public schools. The private schools do not do better
when the SES effect is accounted for, and Catholic schools are lower in

John M. Clement
Houston, TX

Hi all-
Such numbers are meaningless, as are all experimental results, unless one
knows the statistical and systematic uncertainties associated with the
results.. When the experiment falls in the realm of the social
sciences, as research attempts in education must, the systematic
uncertainties merit extensive discussion and are difficult to quantify.
Among the systematic uncertainties are the effects of the time and
placement of the experiment, the precise definitions of the categories
compared, and the identification of relevant factors.

The art of estimating systematic uncertainties seems to improve when the
experiment is repeated many times and the deviations in quantitative
results are accounted for. When systematic uncertainties are under
control, numerical results from different experiments will fluctuate
in accordance with statistical predictions.

On Sun, 13 Jul 2008, John Clement wrote:

My estimate comes straight from the Lawson Piagetian test published in
book. 75% of the honors students do exhibit proportional reasoning
only 25% of the regular students exhibit proportional reasoning. Since
really low students do not take physics 30% is a reasonable estimate for
proportional reasoning.

John M. Clement
Houston, TX


I would venture to guess that the students in your private prep school
probably are more likely to be at the formal operational level than
in average public schools, so your 30% estimate may be a bit high.

Mark Shapiro

-----Original Message-----

According to Shayer & Adey students need to be at the formal
level to be able to understand a 3 variable equation such as F=ma.
only about 30% of US students are capable of understanding
when they are seniors in HS, algebra is literally impossible for most
students even in HS. Pushing advanced abstract concepts down to lower
grades is absurd when students do not understand proportional reasoning
conservation reasoning.

Incidentally the 30% figure comes from my testing of students in a
prep private school in Houston.

If this seems a bit late on the topic, it is because I have been on a
boat tour of Russia for 2 weeks.

John M. Clement
Houston, TX

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