Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Impost of Mathematics NCOS in our schools

Let's look at the impost on schools and students for the introduction of NCOS in mathematics.

Firstly handmedowns instantly become useless to families. Old textbooks cannot be passed on as new courses are semesterised and the curriculum has changed. Students are at a significant disadvantage if using hand-me-down graphics calculators next year and old calculators cannot be resold relegating $147 calculators to $20 adding machines.

Next comes the impost of new texts. Each course (two per year) requires a book at $22 each (thank goodness Saddler books are reasonably priced) - $88 over two years or $8800. In year 11, students need to purchase a new CAS calculator at $187 - adding to another $18,700. In a school that supports 100 senior school maths students, this means that parents of senior school students as a group need to find $27,500 to cover costs just for mathematics.

Now knowing how hard it is to get $6 out of students for an excursion in difficult times, we should not discount the impost this is causing families. Suggesting to students that working and buying calculators rather than MP3's and PSP's may be the only way that some of these kids will be able to do mathematics. Perhaps this needs to be the christmas present for a number of students.

That it has come to students picking other subjects because they are cheaper says poor things about our schooling system. I know that some families have to make great sacrifices to find that $187 on top of requirements for other subjects, stationery and uniforms.

Then we look at the cost of implementation - PD, adjusting to new texts and calculators, course redesign, lack of available TEE materials, adjustments in subject selection, timetabling issues, preparation of new tests/ assignments/ worksheets/ homework /investigations, adjustment to non-calculator sections, the unpreparedness of 10 new courses all implemented at once. The time available for senior teachers to mentor junior teachers over the next couple of years may be severely limited. There will be very few knowledgable in the intricacies of these courses for some time. For confirmation of the limits of knowledge ask a mathematics teacher how the level 2/3 courses are treated in calculating TER scores. Good luck understanding the answer (it's here).

Course change is not something to be taken lightly- nor something that should be done in a rush.

I hate to think what will happen as books and calculators go missing or courses go awry next year - there are going to be some very sad parents, teachers and students.

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