Monday, October 24, 2016

Why Algebra Matters and an Examination of the Hoboken School District's 2015 PARCC Algebra I scores...with State and County Comparisons

Hoboken Boat House 
It is frequently called the gatekeeper subject. It is used by professionals ranging from electricians to architects to computer scientists. It is no less than a civil right, says Robert Moses, founder of the Algebra Project, which advocates for math literacy in public schools as a civil right.  

Basic algebra is the first in a series of higher-level math classes students need to succeed in college and life. Because many students fail to develop a solid math foundation, an alarming number of them graduate from high school unprepared for college or work. Many end up taking remedial math in college, which makes getting a degree a longer, costlier process than it is for their more prepared classmates. And it means they are less likely to complete a college-level math course. For middle-schoolers and early high school students and their parents, the message is clear: It’s easier to learn the math now than to relearn it later.

 To hear the rhetoric of "great progress", one would expect that Algebra I scores are doing reasonably well. Especially since back in 2012 the Kids First/Forward Progress Board members approved an Algebra I curriculum: 

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Click to see full Board Agenda for October 2012 

 So how is the Hoboken School District doing in Algebra I when compared to other New Jersey schools with similar characteristics ("FG" district factor group) on standardized Mathematics scores? Hoboken seems to rank around 59th out of 62 or so school districts in their own factor group. I guess this is considered "progress" in an era of low expectations--- 

How is the Hoboken School District doing in Algebra I when compared to other New Jersey schools with similar characteristics ("FG" district factor group) when we view the data as graphical representation in chart form? The story may be a little clear...

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So how is the Hoboken School District doing in Algebra I when compared to other school districts in Hudson County, New Jersey?
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These Algebra scores speak for themselves. What does not speak for itself is the scholastic damage and limited opportunities that these students now face with such poor performance in Algebra I for the rest of their lives. Who is responsible? All we hear is how much "progress" is being "great" the schools are wonderful leadership has been. 
Algebra I PARCC scores are not an isolated aspect of the education students are receiving in the Hoboken Public Schools under the current board majority leadership. For instance: 
The Hoboken Public School students obtain SAT scores lower than expected by their socio-economic status, they are in a district that was designated by the New Jersey Department of Education as a "District in Need of Improvement" and this district has failed the New Jersey QSAC DPR for Instruction and Program for the past 4 years. The Newark Star Ledger gave the district high school a "D". In addition, the district was rated the 9th most violent school district in New Jersey by and the rate of violence and vandalism incidents in the schools remain very high compared to schools in Hudson County and around the state. Add to this 6 superintendents in 7 years and 4 different district configurations in the same period and we can see reason why the quality of education the poor and disadvantaged students of Hoboken are receiving under the leadership of the "Kids First/Reach Higher Hoboken!" political group might be considered a threat to their civil rights. Especially if one considers the quality of an education to be a civil right. 
Conclusion: Perhaps the civil rights of students in Hoboken are being threatened. But it is clear these rights are not being violated by an expansion of two grades by a single charter school, or enrollment restrictions, or boundary restrictions, and it is evident that proper funding is being allocated. It may be the case that the children of Hoboken are being denied the quality education they truly deserve and require and that may be a violation to the spirit of civil rights and to the 1954 decision of Brown vs. Board of Education. Whether this is a legal issue or a moral issue is an interesting question. But for those who wish to applaud the upholding of the civil rights of students by the current "Kids First/Move Forward Hoboken!/Forward Progress" majority of the Hoboken Board of may be time to closely examine the education being received by the district's high needs population and whether their civil right of access to a quality education is what is actually being violated. 
Later this week we will look at another important aspect of a child's education and how the Hoboken School District under the leadership of Kids First-Forward Progress have been doing... Literacy/Reading. 

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