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# Math Placement Test Without a Calculator?

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## Replies to: Math Placement Test Without a Calculator?

Well, if that happens, being ticked off at the college will be a totally appropriate response.

Well, how else should she go about getting those basics?

Just because she's an early childhood education major doesn't mean that she shouldn't have a basic level of math competency.

For your square root of 95 example, she should be able to at least know that the answer lies between 9 and 10.

I do concur that the statistics class would probably be the most interesting and most importantly the most useful for someone who is not going down a sciency-mathy type of path.

It is very important for someone who is going to be a teacher of young children to easily understand how to perform these simple types of calculations. IMHO it is unacceptable to graduate students from elementary teaching programs unless they have a strong understanding of math through Algebra. I applaud the college that the D of the OP attends for insisting upon this!

I'm sorry that your D has to take an extra course, but I'm even more sorry that she arrived at college with this deficiency in math.

I had to use a trigonometric table, a thick book to interpolate values for sine, cosine, tan,...

I've never asked my students to do that. I've also never asked them to crank-start a Model T.

My own d's hs calculus teacher came out of retirement tonteach calc again this year. No graphing calculators allowed. No formula sheets allowed on the exams. It's rough, but my suitemate thinks it's great. She'll know her calc.

You should be ticked off at yourself, the middle school, the high school, and the college! You should be asking the middle school why your D did not learn basic middle school math (I am assuming she did ok in middle school math). You should ask the high school how your daughter was allowed to take advanced math courses without being required to have a basic understanding of math. You should ask the college why they accepted your daughter when she wasn't prepared for college level math. And last but not least you should see what part of this was something you didn't look into. Did D get standardized test results back during grades 6-11 that showed her math skills were weak? Many parents choose to ignore this information and chalk it up to being invalid (after all D is in advanced math so she must know what she is doing).

Sorry to sound so negative but until parents start demanding that their children are college ready (and not just college eligible) the problem will continue. Parents need to demand that their A students get top grades on standardized tests and not listen to any half baked excuses given by high schools (I work at one, I've heard them all) as to why they aren't. If colleges refused to accept any student that needed remedial classes, I guarantee you would see a jump in the quality of the high school program because the parents would demand it.

At my hs we work very hard to get students to pass Alg II so they can get into a state school--no one seems to care (including the parents) if the student is ready to take the next course in the sequence (Trig) or not, it's all about getting in.

So bravo OP for questioning what is up here. I can guarantee it is not a calculator issue.

Standardized tests that allow calculators can easily obfuscate the assessment of math proficiency. Instead, these tests are assessing something different, even on the ACT and SAT, which are putatively constructed to make calculator use a minor advantage (if any).

An egregious example, perhaps, would be K-6 math here in NJ, where, until the spring of this year, calculators were used extensively in the assessment tests (called "NJ ASK"). The use of calculators on the test was reduced to 20% of the questions (from essentially 100%) when it was discovered that "this practice has obscured our ability to measure with confidence students grasp of foundational math skills in mathematics operations." (quoting the NJ Dept of Ed)

BTW, the GRE will start allowing calculators in August, 2011.

My math major was fine, but my humanities guy really struggled til he went back and re-learned what he should have been taught the first time around. (His Alg II and AB Calc teachers were MIT grads. Both had major portions of their tests where calculators weren't allowed.)

S1 hasn't had a math course in college where a calculator was allowed.

OP, a lot of school systems started pushing 7-8 years ago to get more kids into Algebra sooner, but in a lot of schools, the net effect was to water down Algebra I. We're now seeing the results. A lot of kids were done a disservice, and unless parents happened to be pretty attuned to what good math instruction looks like, it is easy to think your kid is doing just fine. Let me be clear, I'm not knocking acceleration -- one of my kids definitely thrived on radical subject acceleration -- but in the process to get more kids into higher math, the basics went by the wayside.

GRE is now going to allow calculators? Bet S1 will be glad he just took the current version of the GRE!

Umm... what purpose would be served to have a math question like that and then allow a calculator? To show the student knows how to press the square root button?

I actually do have some sympathy for need of calculator on a word problem with complicated calculations. But not for that example, for the reasons give by prior posters.

I do think it makes sense to firm up basic math concepts like that before attempting college math classes. It is too bad that the MS/HS math teacher didn't catch on to this. OP has a right to be annoyed, but not annoyed at the college.

PS - Perhaps anxiety factored in there too, with lack of the familiar calculator (whether used or not). Good luck!