More EOC’s in math and science could prepare students better for college STEM majors

From my op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel this morning:

Imagine that your daughter, ready to start college as a science or engineering major, shows up for summer orientation to register for courses and get a fast start in the fall. Even if you’re not a scientist or engineer yourself, you know something about the courses she will need: an array of basic sciences, including chemistry and physics, and calculus.

You figure that your daughter is ready for the first calculus class in college because she earned straight A’s in her high school’s precalculus class. Right?


A statewide end-of-course exam in Precalculus would solve this problem.

But can a state that is having a rebellion against standardized testing even consider such a common sense idea?

Here’s some points that got left out of the final version:

  • This isn’t just a Florida problem.  A recently published book titled “Inequality for All:  The Challenge of Unequal Opportunity in American Schools” by William Schmidt of Michigan State University and Curtis McKnight of the University of Oklahoma illustrates “how unequal opportunities to learn mathematics and science are affecting potential achievement not only for minority and poor students but for students from middle-income school districts” all over the nation, according to Michigan State’s media communications office.
  • Precalculus is not the only high school subject in which adding an EOC would help students intending to major in science and engineering in college.  For example, our pretesting in the Physics Department at FSU shows a desperate need for quality control in Florida’s high school physics classes, and an EOC would help.


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