Today was the first day back to school after holiday break. Tomorrow, my Algebra 1 class has their end of year exam to determine whether or not they are proficient enough to move on to Intermediate Algebra.

Why does our school have such a test? As math teachers, we’ve found that different teachers grade different ways, and as a result, some students aren’t as proficient as they should be as they enter the next level of mathematics. To overcome this, the math department created a test, over a decade ago, in which all Algebra students need to pass in order to advance to higher math courses. By doing so, the math department can be sure that students in upper level math courses are proficient in their algebraic fundamentals. On the downside, students hate it because if they don’t pass, then it’s another year of Algebra for them, no matter what their grade is in Algebra. Counselors and the Vice Principal in charge of scheduling hate it because it puts a huge number of students back into Algebra, instead of having them go on to their pre-scheduled class.

Why was the test scheduled on the second day after returning back from holiday break? I have no clue, but I think it has something to do with scheduling.

After meeting with my Algebra class today, one thing is certain; a majority of my class either didn’t study, or they studied a minimal amount; which is a bit disappointing, since I spent so much time creating a YouTube playlist that includes videos for each of the skills on the test.

For the last couple semesters I have incorporated a standards based grade book. For my Algebra class, I have aligned the grade book with the skills that are seen on this end-of-year test. One thing that I am going to try, that I have never attempted, is to use the degree of error to determine how accurate my grade book is compared to this test. I intend to only use the assessments portion of my grade book. I think it will be interesting to see individual student’s degree of error and also the class results.

Stay tuned for the results…