Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mathematics Pathways 2009

On paper the new courses next year look to be improvements on the existing 2008 MIPS/Foundations/Intro Calculus/G&T combinations. In 2008 MIPS was for weaker students, Foundations for mid tier students and Intro Calculus/G&T was for the capable students (think Maths 2/3 if you're from my era). In Year 12 MIPS lead to Modelling, Foundations lead to Discrete, Intro Calculus/G&T lead to Calculus/Applicable mathematics.

There were definite issues with the old structure. First MIPS was very language oriented which caused serious difficulties for low literacy students. The Foundations course was more difficult than the year 12 Discrete Mathematics course that it lead to. Many capable students opted to take the easier option (Foundations/Discrete) rather than Intro Calculus/G&T students as the scaling was never quite right for(although Intro Calculus/G&T students did get the benefit of satisfying many pre-requisites in university and avoided bridging courses)

The new courses for 2009 on paper better cater to a range of students. These courses are semesterised and labelled 1B-3D (eg. 2C in semester 1 and 2D in semester 2 year 11, and 3A in semester 1, 3B in semester 2 year 12). Each year 11 course (if necessary) can be sat again in year 12 (eg. if a student failed 2c/2D in year 11 and repeated 2C/2D in year 12). There are lower courses aimed at students with learning difficulties (PA/PB/1A).

Weaker students have a more traditional year 9/10 type course in 1B/1C/1D/1E or 1D/1E/2A/2B (replacing MIPS/Modelling)
Weak mid tier students now have 2A/2B/2C/2D (replacing Foundations/Discrete)
Strong mid tier type students now have 2C/2D/3A/3B (replacing Foundations/Discrete)
Capable students have 3A/3B/3C/3D & 3A/3B/3C/3D specialist (replacing IC/G&T/Calc/Applic)

The strong/capable students are typically university bound, weak mid tier students may use their score for low requirement university courses or TAFE. Level 1 courses are generally for vocational students.

The real benefits are for mid tier and capable students that now have real options in selecting 2A-3A as a starting point in year 11. Students that sit higher end mathematics are now promised a more equitable scaling factor than was in place under the old system. The general opinion is also that the new courses are easier (in general) than the courses they replace. Only time will tell.

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