Requiring isn’t the same as Improving

March 23, 2010 at 11:55 am 1 comment

Here at Georgia Tech, all students are required to take introductory computer science.  For the first four years of that policy, we taught the same (single) intro course that we ever did.  Our results are similar to what Chicago is finding with its new science requirement.

A policy change that made college-preparatory courses the default high school curriculum in the Chicago public schools increased the number of science courses that students took and passed. But it also kept some students from taking higher-level science courses and did not increase the college-going rate, according to a study by the Consortium on Chicago School Research.

via Education Week: Effect of Chicago’s Tougher Science Policy Mixed.

I particularly liked this quote — taking more of the same thing just leads to more classes in which students do badly:

“Before the policy, most students received C’s and D’s in their classes,” he said. “If they weren’t being successful with one or two years of science, why would we think they would be successful with three years of science, if we don’t pay attention to getting the students engaged?”

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Alan Kay  |  March 23, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Not enough info here. Hard to believe they thought they would get improvement just from increasing the number of courses!

    Are they grading to absolute standards or on a curve? (There should be mostly C’s in the latter case — not a great idea if there are lots of good students!) The standard curve theory of grades (or anything else) says there are about 83% that are at “normal” or worse, and about 17% “B’s and A’s”.

    Presumably they are not doing this for college prep.

    And …. *why* aren’t the students doing better?

    In LA one of the biggest “odd juxtapositions” is the universal complaint from HS principals about students doing badly in 9th grade algebra and loud calls for better ways to teach this in 9th grade — with their absolute disinclination to help in any way K-8 math to be better taught and learned.




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