Jeff Meadors: Math mastery eludes many Georgia students

Jeff Meadors

Jeff Meadors

Does area math performance build a case for college math?

Content mastery for high schools is derived from performance on End of Course Tests. Of the eight EOCTs, two focus on math. Targeted performance is 100 percent. Area schools are listed alphabetically.

Alcovy High earned 68.1 percent on Math I and 56.9 percent on Math II. Eastside earned 77.3 percent on Math I and 62.6 percent on Math II. Heritage scored 67.1 percent on Math I and 51.7 percent on Math II. Morgan County High scored 72.3 percent on Math I and 63.7 percent on Math II. Newton High earned 68.9 percent on Math I and 51.5 percent on Math II.

Oconee High school students scored as follows: Math I, 83.6 percent, and Math II, 81.4 percent. Rockdale High earned 76.2 percent on Math I and 45.4 percent on Math II; Salem High scored 51.9 percent on Math I and 57.6 percent on Math II, and Social Circle High earned 67.6 percent on Math I and 36.8 percent on Math II.

As points of comparison, Forsyth County's Lambert High scored 97.2 percent on Math I and 95.3 percent on Math II and Gwinnett's School of Math, Science & Technology earned 100 percent in both areas.

So while excellence is possible, a preponderance of poor math performance fuels the debate over the value of integrated math (Math I, Math II, Math III and Math IV).

One Minnesota district, Wayzata Public, outperforms the state while employing the controversial curriculum. Wayzata ranked better than 97.3 percent of all districts in Minnesota on test scores.

So what is happening in Georgia schools?

More and more, high school students seek alternatives to integrated math. Many end up warring with public school officials in their quest to opt into dual college credit math and out of integrated math.

Students gain eligibility to a local dual enrollment program with a 3.0 core GPA on a 4.0 scale and one set of eligible test scores. Since most high school students lack the trigonometric foundations to initially perform high on SAT math, the ACT test is a preferred gateway to admissions. Dual enrollment students automatically place into college algebra, and most succeed with good effort and a strong work ethic.

After admission into dual enrollment, many students want to take a math placement test to place into Math 1113, but even for those who place above 1111 few are ready for that level and show signs of struggle by college midterm. College algebra is typically the right starting point.

Dual enrollment students can complete four units of high school math if they start a dual program as a junior, graduating with Math 1111 (College Algebra), Math 1113 (Pre-calculus), Math 2431 (Calculus I), and Math 2432 (Calculus II) completed. Each course returns to the high school as a full Carnegie unit, generating four units of high school math, all transferable college credit within the University System of Georgia, assuming a grade of C or higher. Students are positioned well to take the SAT after a year of college math to aim for Zell Miller eligibility.

Don't students in schools with chronically anemic math performance deserve some avenue through which competition with Lambert graduates is more equitable?

Jeff Meadors has served in elected and appointed positions in public education and may be reached at pjeffreymeadors@gmail.com