Originally posted on Figuring It Out by J. Bevacqua
I’m frustrated and angry.
Just today I read a Mathematics 10 Provincial Exam Study Guide written by two Canadian educators (one from BC and the other from Alberta) published by a large, well known, publishing company.
In the section titled “To the Student”, there is an explanation of and rationale for provincial exams. It states:
Most provincial exams are designed to evaluate a students proficiency in the curriculum at different levels. In some jurisdictions, for example, a mark of 50% denotes competence, and mark above 80% is considered to indicate excellence.
It is expected that students will demonstrate different levels of competence. In fact, most jurisdictions design exams so that:
- 20% of of students who write exam do not pass (score less than 50%)
- 60% of students who write the exam score between 50% and 80%
- only 20% of students who write the exam demonstrate excellence (score above 80%)
For this reason it is important for individual students to set personal goals and use this goal to help them decide which questions are within their ability. For example, if you expect to score at the 70% level, then 30% of the questions on the exam or test are not written for you.
This is disgraceful.
Where do I begin?
This is a required exam for students.
So much for standards based grading. The bell curve is alive and well. Somehow engineering what success looks like is good for students, teachers and the discipline of mathematics.
Assessment for Learning? Forget it. We use assessment to label students – 20% of them as failures and 20% as winners.
The growth mindset? What’s the point – some students will forever “decide” their ability in Math. Apparently, some students will always be failures.
And we wonder why so many students struggle with and/or “hate” Math.
I could go on – but I’m afraid I might write something I will regret.
I am not aware of the design standards for the Mathematics 10 exam in British Columbia, but I hope that the above design elements are NOT used here.
IF these are the design standards for the Math 10 Provincial Exam, please stop. The discipline of mathematics, our students and our teacher deserve better.