Several recent Washington Post stories have focused on revelations that a high percentage of students have failed, or nearly failed, math final exams in the highly regarded Montgomery County Public School system every year over the last five years. In fact, a majority of the 30,000 high school students in the county taking several end-of-semester math exams flunked — and no high school in the Maryland district was spared. Furthermore, final exam scores for some high school biology, English and history courses in Montgomery County show failure rates of 37 to 50 percent, according to this story.
So what’s going on?
Superintendent Joshua P. Starr, noting that course completion rates are high even if students flunk their finals, is setting two work groups the task of finding out. But in the following post, teachers in the Math Department at Poolesville High School explain in an open letter what they see as the systemic reasons behind the exam failures.
An Open Letter to
The Parents of Montgomery County Students
The Montgomery County Board of Education
The Washington Post recently published a series of reports on the high failure rates on high-school math final exams in Montgomery County Public Schools. When final exam results in a content area are poor system-wide, it is important to look for system-wide causes and solutions. These problems are not primarily caused by the students, the families or the teachers. The failure rates are the result of policies that have been in place for many years and are having a cumulative effect. The mathematics teachers at Poolesville High School would like to offer our perspective on some of the causes and possible solutions.
County-wide policies that impact math:
Major curriculum changes are already underway, but any real improvement will take time, effort, and policy changes. As the educational experts on the front lines, teachers must be more deeply involved in decision making. When new curriculum is rolled out, it is critical that teachers receive the necessary training and support, and that a transition plan is in place for both students and teachers. Any system-wide policies that have negatively impacted student performance need to be intensely scrutinized. Our students and our community deserve nothing less.
Davis, Bradley M. Bradley_M_Davis@mcpsmd.org
Dobbs, Garrett Garrett_Dobbs@mcpsmd.org
Flowers, Jeffrey L. Jeffrey_L_Flowers@mcpsmd.org
Gesterling, Julie A. Julie_A_Gesterling@mcpsmd.org
Herndon, Kimberly R. Kimberly_R_Herndon@mcpsmd.org
Loomis, Linda L. Linda_L_Loomis@mcpsmd.org
Maloney, Janice A. Janice_A_Maloney@mcpsmd.org
Moore, Sharon M. Sharon_M_Moore@mcpsmd.org
Moulding, Laura E. Laura_E_Moulding@mcpsmd.org
Pulupa, Rene G. Rene_G_Pulupa@mcpsmd.org
Stansbury, Jack John_W_Stansbury@mcpsmd.org