Fear and anxiety over curricular change

May 25, 2010 at 7:56 am 3 comments

Here in Georgia in educational circles, you often hear, “Thank God for Alabama and Mississippi!”  Because without them, we’d be 50th among the 50 states in educational standards.

Over the last few years, there has been a significant effort to improve standards and create a new, more rigorous curriculum.  It has parents up in arms!  “There’s no proof that this will work!”  No, there never can be .  Replicating another state’s program might work in the next context, but might not.  “My straight-A student is now getting C’s!” Now there’s the underlying issue.  When you make wholesale change, students have to adapt and teachers have to learn.  That kind of change is leading to exactly that kind of fear and anxiety in Georgia.

We’re not in exactly the same space with respect to Computing.  In most places, we’re not replacing anything.  However, replacing CS1 curriculum, among teachers (faculty) who have no incentive to change — that may be even harder.

Under the state’s new math curriculum, lower scores plus a quicker pace of instruction equal greater anxiety for both students and their teachers.

“In my classes, I have 60 kids and only 17 are passing. You know how stressful that is on me?” said Donna Aker, a veteran math teacher at South Gwinnett High School.

It’s a problem common to many metro Atlanta schools. Nearly one in five ninth-graders in metro Atlanta last year got an F in Math I — the first year of the state’s new math curriculum in high school.

via New curriculum: Math anxiety for students, teachers  | ajc.com.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Alan Kay  |  May 25, 2010 at 8:30 am

    Tricky issues, but thank goodness these teachers (and schools) are willing to stay with their measures for now (e.g. that 17 of 60 are passing). (I’ll bet that many schools are already fudging these.)

    This is like the wonderful bio prof at LSU who got dinged for trying to maintain thresholds in her classes.

    The big tricky part is that it is very likely that the standards (and conceptions of math and science and computing) are still not very good (“harder” doesn’t equal “above threshold”).



  • 2. gflint  |  May 25, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    It would be nice to see teachers be less concerned about the number passing and more about why the kids are passing/not passing. If only 17 of 60 are working at passing, then 17 of 60 is just fine. If 40 of 60 are working their tails off to pass, then there is an issue. The local public schools here are very upset with their graduation percentage. It is the teachers’ fault, it is the curriculum’s fault, it is insufficient money, it is poor technology, it is society’s fault, etc, etc. I have yet to hear it is the students fault. Sooner or later the student must be held responsible for their own life. It seems like high school might be a good time.

    • 3. Alan Kay  |  May 25, 2010 at 12:59 pm

      I think the bigger problem is that there are certain subjects — such as reading and writing, math and science, history, etc. — where we can’t afford as a society to have more than a very small percentage fail with the bar high.

      We mustn’t lower the bar, and we must not let them fail (this is not a Darwinian selection process, but an attempt to regulate a republic via a democracy of all adults).




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