One of the persistent education trends in recent years has been the ratcheting up of graduation standards in high schools. The end of social promotion, piling on language, science and math requirements and stacking standardized tests on top of standardized tests.
Part of this is a natural reaction to the realization that our teachers have simply not been doing a good job teaching students. Since we can't trust the word of teachers that students are learning the right thing, we set up objective tests.
But have we gone too far? In our generous and egalitarian urge to make every child above average, we now require a very high level of performance for students graduating from high school in many areas of the country. In California, for instance, graduating students are now required to take Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II. Now understanding these subjects is probably the minimum requirement for many jobs in our new economy, it's not clear that every student in, say, Los Angeles—where only 10% score above 500 on the math portion of their SAT—is really capable of passing the requirements.
Writer Steve Sailer thinks raising the requirements to this level is, well, a little bit nuts.
I suspect that the mathematicians who dreamed up these standards wish that they had been taught like this in high school. They wouldn't have been so bored if their courses had been geared at a much higher level of abstraction.
So, this is how they get their revenge on the assistant football coach who bored them so badly when he taught them Algebra I -- by making him try to explain, on a hot day in early September, the closure properties of the irrational numbers to high school freshmen who add and subtract on their fingers.
Most of DealBreaker's readers have a facility with numbers. It's a job requirement for much of Wall Street. So we might be the best qualified to judge whether everyone is capable of passing something as basic of Algebra II. But we're curious what the general opinion of our readers is of this level of math requirements in high school. Is every child a budding quant, just waiting for math teachers to get their act together and start assigning Fermat's Theorem as homework?
Are they nuts? The State of California's Algebra I standard [iSteve]