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EDUCATION: Dorn on horns of a dilemma

Letter by Roger E. Freiheit, Tacoma on Sep. 17, 2010 at 10:38 am with 4 Comments »
September 17, 2010 11:10 am

Randy Dorn, the state superintendent of public instruction, stated that “we’ll have students taking end-of-course exams in algebra and geometry one to two years after having taken the course. Doesn’t seem fair, does it?” (Viewpoint, 9-5).

For years, educators have told the public that students’ curriculum memories will transfer outside the classroom and be applied in new situations. Educational psychologists know otherwise. In only one year, students forget two-thirds of their algebraic knowledge. Imagine what they will forget in two years.

However, Dorn was very careful to be implicit and never to explicitly talk about forgetting. That would be contrary to educators’ claim of transfer.

Trying to deal with the problem of end-of-course exams and forgetting, while not revealing the public educator’s contradictory claims, is Dorn’s dilemma.

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  1. geeterpontiac says:

    Good article.

    Students need to be tested for knowledge of the subject at the time of class completion, not one or two years afterward.

    Any person with an ounce of brains know that people forget due to disuse of a skill.

    Students need to be tested for competence as they move through the public education system on a class by class, year by year basis.

    Not only is it the only fair way, but, it means you can’t pass the problem on without it be acknowleged and worked at the time appropriate.

  2. I’m sorry, I can’t resist: it looks like the state SPI is caught on the Dorns of a hilemma.

  3. geeterpontiac says:

    Uh, cute, bugme! :)

  4. I remember each math class building on the skills learned in the previous class. So for instance, if you take algebra I in the 9th grade you should still be able to pass an algebra test at the end of 11th grade because in those two years you’ve been taking geometry and algebra II, thereby using your algebra I skills regularly.

    I think the only kids who will have a problem with a delay between the class and the test are the kids who quit taking math so they quit practicing their math skills.

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