Math curriculum support workshop number six

Math curriculum support workshop number six was held on Friday 01 March 2013 at Madolehnihmw High School. The session began just after three in the afternoon.

With the COMET test and the term completed, a change in schedules for the final term shifted the instructors to junior year algebra II. The seniors do not have mathematics in their final semester. This may also reflect the importance of the COMET and the weight given those areas which are tested - English and mathematics. MHS redeploys their best senior year mathematics instructors to the junior class after the COMET administration and . Whether that is coincidental or COMET driven is not stated. 

The COMET drives curriculum in the high schools of the FSM. Expanding the COMET to include social sciences and natural sciences would likely help drive curriculum in those areas as well. 

Shifting to looking at student learning outcomes accomplished by the high school students in their courses would be the ideal. Short of that, valuing and assessing high school transcripts would be useful first step. The seniors at MHS might benefit from continuing contact with expository writing and mathematics, but post-COMET the only English class is a literature class. With COM-FSM the only college on the island of Pohnpei, and the COMET being the sole arbiter of admission (as ably demonstrated by student KJ this spring), post-COMET there is no institutional impetus to continue preparing the seniors for college work.

With no specific need for curriculum support, both instructors being quite comfortable in algebra II material, I worked a series of enrichment problems given to me on a sheet of paper. I also tackled and failed to resolve the decomposition of a fourth power equation into two quadratic equations with imaginary roots. The latter problem was on a sheet of paper related to another mathematics program underway in the state. The problem was completely artificially contrived to be a decomposable fourth degree equation and I remain completely baffled as to the potential application of such mathematical jigsaw puzzles. Cleverly constructed, they appear to have no application beyond being a puzzle, and certainly kill any joy that can be found in the field of mathematics. 

I did ask how the COMET went and was informed that after a late start, the COMET went well. The COMET ran from about 10:00 to just after 1:00 in the afternoon. Knowing that breakfast is not always available in a family home in Madolehnihmw, and that being hungry impairs performance on tests, I asked whether the students had become hungry. The instructors answered in the affirmative. The college test administration team is a capable and dedicated team, but they are not trained to consider all of the variables that impact high stakes test performances.

The group decided that in light of the curriculum changes this term, the sixth meeting would be our last meeting of the support group. I suggested that the next meeting should be of the larger mathematics curriculum bridge group after the COMET is scored and analyzed. 

At this time I do not know if the college will approach me to work on an analysis, but any analysis done must provide section level data. Simply reporting high school averages is not sufficient to provide an understanding of whether curriculum changes in the academic A and B sections at MHS have made a difference on the COMET. The same is true for PICS, NMHS, KHS, YHS, and other schools. 

Based on past experience, I do not expect an analysis to be available prior to sometime between late April and late May. 


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