Paging John Konop

Nevermind, I’ll save him the trouble:

“I told you so.” – J. Konop.

Teens fared so poorly with Georgia’s newly accelerated sophomore math curriculum last school year that state officials want to put the lowest performers in an easier course in August that more can pass.

Only 52 percent of the students who took the End of Course Test for Math II in May passed, the state recently reported. Many students in metro Atlanta schools who took the tests squeaked by with barely passing grades, earning modest average scores of C’s and D’s for their districts.

The freshman class, meanwhile, fared somewhat better on the Math I End of Course Test, with 64 percent passing.

The benchmark scores reflect what several educators and parents have been saying all along: The new math curriculum, souped-up to get teens competitive for college, is leaving some students in the dust.

Discuss. Or not.

29 comments

  1. John Konop says:

    I just hope and pray for all of us no matter who wins this year we all agree to put aside differences and fix the problem. I am sorry if I offended people when I was warning about this irrational idea (math 123). I felt like I was watching a car wreck and could not stop it.

    • polisavvy says:

      I remember you foreseeing this problem. It’s past time for education to be fixed. Cookie-cutter education serves no purpose and leaves a whole lot of kids behind in the process. I, like you, hope that whoever becomes the next Governor of Georgia zeroes in on this HUGE problem.

  2. Lady Thinker says:

    John,

    I am so glad you didn’t let this issue go. As you well know, colleges are having to spend millions of dollars teaching remedial courses in English and Math to college freshmen before the students can take college level courses in these subjects. We have to come up with an educational plan to move Georgia out of the forties and higher up across the nation.

  3. Dickson says:

    do any of you other 50 somethings remember the ‘new math’ that was introduced to GA elementary students in the 60’s? – so new, the teachers weren’t able to teach it

    • polisavvy says:

      I do remember ‘new math’ all too well. I am a product of new math. My teacher absolutely could not teach it and told us she couldn’t — she told our parents, too. From that point on, I was lost as last year’s Easter egg.

  4. kdoc says:

    I’m principal of a private high school, and we have been seeing the fallout of this Math 1/2/3 system in our transfer students. While, in general, students coming to us from public high schools have always been somewhat weak in math, the problem has gotten significantly worse with the new curriculum.

  5. gopgal says:

    While I know plenty of parents who readily admit their children are struggling with the new curriculum, I have also heard from several folks that the transition was too quick which did not allow the teachers adequate time to grasp the material and prepare to teach it.

  6. Doug Grammer says:

    I am not a fan of the match 123 program, and neither is the GOP nominee for School Superintend, Dr. John Barge.

    http://www.electjohnbarge.com/

    There are some things that I like about NCLB and more things that I don’t like. As a concept, I’d like to see bulldozers knocking down the U.S. Department of Education and leaving it as a state by state function of government. As long as it’s still standing and money has to go to DC (sigh) (paying a bunch of bureaucrats) before it comes back to our state, I’d like assurances that the money is being well spent. NCLB doesn’t do that very well, but I think it’s better than watching government spend the money without any measuring of results. It was OK to try it, but I’m ready for something new.

    • ACCmoderate says:

      I think the bigger problem is that we have so many “standards” coming from so many different places.

      The one advantage to the DoE would be their ability to say, flat out: these are the things our children need to know in order to be competitive in college and in the workplace after they graduate.

      We need to come to some sort of agreement about what our kids need to know in order to compete with the rest of the world. The problem is that we have the federal government saying one thing, states saying another, and local school districts saying another.

      Once voice. Clear goals. A firm desire to make public schools in this country the best in the world.

  7. ACCmoderate says:

    Someone help me understand this.

    Kids don’t perform well in one math class. So instead of evaluating what is wrong with the curriculum and the teacher’s teaching the curriculum, we put them in an easier class so that they can pass (and help teachers/administrators save face).

    Remind me again why we listen to the teacher’s unions? It seems that they only complain when people want to make them do their jobs.

    • Harry says:

      It’s not a “teachers union” issue. Individual teachers know that one size doesn’t fit all. Why consign a non-academically proficient child to failure in school and life? People like John Konop and others have been advocating for multi-track approach, which is more realistic than NCLB, Math 123, etc. It’s a waste of time and resources to force every student into a college track. One reason we don’t have a globally-competitive workforce is because we’re making failures out of too many of our youth by forcing them into one-size-fits-all, rather than helping them to become self-sufficient, contributing individuals.

      • John Konop says:

        Harry this was debate between Maureen Downey and I about this issue, you might find interesting.

        Friendly debate: A single academic track or multiple tracks?

        …..A Cherokee resident, Konop was one of the early critics of the state’s new math curriculum. He sees the math reforms as a symptom of a larger problem: Forcing all students into an academic track that is not relevant to their dreams, may exceed their abilities and pushes them to drop out.
        As a CEO who monitors job trends, he questions the mantra that high level math skills are essential to most future jobs. He advocates options outside college prep for students so they are not done in by early failure and give up on school….

        http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2010/01/27/friendly-debate-a-single-academic-track-or-multiple-tracks/

      • LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

        Good points Harry, or in other words, somebody has to pick up the garbage and dig ditches.

        • Icarus says:

          I think the other words are, with a decent technical track diploma, some of those currently being forced out of the system because they can’t hack the “college track for all” could be auto mechanics or welders earning high five figures or even low six figures instead of picking up trash or digging ditches.

          • John Konop says:

            Icarus,

            Well said!!!!

            I also think we have an issue with educational elitist like Kathy Cox. I happen to be very good at math yet had struggles with writing and reading skills via my dyslexia. Like most people we all have stuff we are good at and other stuff we struggle with. This is why a one size fit all system is irrational.

            Also I have tremendous respect for people who have skills I do not have. People with dyslexia tend to be good executives according to studies because they learn at an early age to depend and work well with others to survive in school.

            The educational elitists tend to look at anyone that is not in their box as less than them and or cannot understand why they do not fit in the box. We need leadership that is focused on working with a students God given skills not rejecting them for fitting into a size fit all box.

            • John Konop says:

              LoyaltyIsMyHonor,

              I do not think Icarus took it that way nor did I. But the educational elitist use statements like that as weapon against multi-track education.

          • polisavvy says:

            We will always need good plumbers, electricians, welders, and brick masons (to name a few). These are the types of courses that should be taught in high school again. People have to remember that we need blue collar workers just as much as we need white collar workers. Without the blue collars, the white collars would be sitting on the ground out in the open. Just my opinion.

  8. Hooray for me being in that 52%.

    I think I scored an 82% or something like that. It was a relatively easy test. Then again, I’m not your average teenager 😀

    • polisavvy says:

      That you are not, Kyle. You appear to be wise beyond your years. You remind me of my younger son (he’s almost 24).

  9. Dave says:

    Can someone educate me here? What is the new education plan (Math 123) and why is it considered harder? As an approaching “50 something” guy, I’m not sure I even remember the “new math” that I was surely taught. I know it might sound simplistic but isn’t math just plain ol’ math? Thanks!

    • John Konop says:

      Dave,

      This is one of the warning articles I wrote years ago.

      Sonny Perdue Must Stop Kathy Cox

      Georgia’s State Superintendent of Schools, Kathy Cox, has imposed a dramatically different high school math curriculum without properly reviewing it with teachers and parents. She is replacing the traditional structure (Algebra I & II, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Calculus) with vaguely-titled Math 1, Math 2, and Math 3.

      There are currently four math tracks available to high school students. They vary in difficulty to accommodate a broad range of math abilities. Under Cox’s proposed change, freshmen, sophomores, and juniors will now only have two tracks (Math 1 and Advanced Math 1, Math 2 and Advanced Math 2…). Cox’s new mandate may be well intended-but the devil’s in the details.

      Lobbyist-Driven Education Policies

      Politicians like Kathy Cox have been promoting programs like this to help fund their political campaigns instead of being straight with parents. David Chastain, Director of Georgia Libertarian Party, claims Kathy is bought and sold by the educational lobbyists who represent the companies that provide the consulting, textbooks, and testing materials needed to implement the new program.

      Kids would be better served if we had far fewer heavy-handed state and federal mandates (which they aren’t responsible for implementing or funding), and instead gave more money directly to the local school district and let local voters hold them accountable. In fact, if we eliminated these kinds of pork-filled bureaucratic misadventures we could raise the proportion of education funding that goes to classrooms (versus administration) to 65%. Please click here for more information.

      Problem #1: Cox punishes gifted and advanced kids

      As part of her new math program, Cox wants to stop giving gifted and advanced middle school math students the chance to earn high school credit in math (algebra). Currently, these advanced junior high courses (that Cox wants to eliminate) make Georgia students eligible for college math courses in their junior year, which helps them get placed in the top colleges.

      The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Cherokee County School Superintendent, Dr. Petruzielo, said this aspect of Cox’s new math program doesn’t make sense. “One of the things Cherokee County is proud of is the number of kids in middle school who take algebra. Next fall we will have ninth-graders in high school taking algebra for credit. Why not have seventh- and eighth-graders take algebra? And if they can pass the end of course test, why in the world would they not get credit?” In fact, 95% of Cherokee County’s junior high Algebra 1 students pass the Cox’s own, state-required, EOCT test.

      Problem #2: Students will suffer under unrealistic goals

      Cox spokesperson and Georgia’s math program manager Claire Pierce told me that a goal of the new math program is to have 85% of Georgia’s students graduate having completed the equivalent of Algebra II. I believe this goal makes the same mistake as President Bush’s unpopular No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program: not all high school students should prepare for college. As reported by the AJC, it is wildly unrealistic to expect that they should, and it damages the self-esteem of kids that would be better served by a vocational program.

      It’s more likely that 85% is the proportion of students she wants to buy new textbooks for, as a favor to her education-industry campaign donors.

      Problem #3: Unrealistic goals for the teachers

      I support high (yet realistic) expectations. But Kathy Cox’s unrealistic plan to graduate 85% of our high school students with the equivalent of Algebra II will destroy the morale of math teachers. Georgia’s high school classrooms face an explosion of immigrants with very poor English skills, pregnant teens, drug users, and kids with parents who don’t support academics.

      Finally, Cox needs to double check her math-if currently 44% of Georgia’s high school students drop out and only 29% (nationally) graduate with math proficiency (which doesn’t include Algebra II), how can she possibly meet her 85% goal? The only way is to hide watered-down standards behind the vaguely titled Math 1, 2, and 3.

      Problem #4: A rushed and careless policy

      Cherokee County’s Mark Smith says Cox’s new math program hasn’t been reviewed with any colleges except those within Georgia’s state system. Meaning no one knows if or how colleges from other states will accept it. “This is a sea change in the way registrars look at stuff,” Petruzielo said. “I’m not comfortable [with the new courses]. We wouldn’t want our kids to be at a disadvantage.”

      The state has also failed address how to handle students transferring into Georgia public high schools. Since the new curriculum is mandatory, advanced students transferring into our systems could be forced to sit through math classes they have already mastered. The same holds true for middle school students who have taken advanced math courses.

      http://controlcongress.com/uncategorized/sonny-perdue-must-stop-kathy-cox

        • John Konop says:

          poli,

          What is the biggest travesty is I had numerous conversations and sent many e-mails to the DOE, Governors office and state school board and nobody could give any straight answers to the issues I brought up. I also know many parents, administrators and teachers brought up the very same issues and once again no answers.

          I am still in shock how Katy Cox and the DOE could charge forward like a raging bull knowingly without dealing with the issues brought up by many of us!

        • polisavvy says:

          Personally, I think it happened for two reasons: (1) no one understood your idea (which I certainly understand); or (2) there are some who don’t like anyone suggesting anything to them at any time for any reason. I hate to say this but some educators think that, unless you are an educator, you can’t possibly know more than they know. I encountered this with some of my kids’ teachers. The arrogance and heir of superiority was sometimes extreme. The same holds true with many in government — they think that they know what is best for us and act like we don’t have a clue.

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