Thursday, November 24, 2005

Information Gap

I will charitably assume that the high schools in my region are unaware that they produce graduates who, after three or four years of getting As in college-prep math, struggle and fail in the lowest-level math classes at my university. What's the other option? That the schools are silently conspiring to cover-up poor achievement with high grades? So that the students (and their parents) will complain to me instead of to the local schools?

My school is fairly regional in terms of its student body; few students come here from far, far away. I'm sure that a fairly manageable number of high schools produce a substantial number of our freshmen.

Wouldn't it be nice if I could ask every freshman taking a math class (maybe on the cover sheet of the final exam) at which high school(s) the student took Algebra I and Algebra II? Then I could take this data, match it with placement data and course grades, and come up with a rough measure of how well a school prepares its students for college-level math.

And then what to do with the findings? Share it with the schools, for sure. But then what? The community? Our admissions office?

Unfortunately, this is the sort of trouble-making that is probably best left to those with tenure.