Standardized tests and "cultural bias"

Is SAT angst easing off? Here are some tips for dispelling pre-test terror.
by Jay Mathews
Washington Post Education column, 2015-09-06


I have a few tips from an accomplished college counselor
on the changes in the math sections of the PSAT and the SAT.
The advice from Perry Youngblood of Southern Pines, N.C.,
was originally sent to me by Shirley Bloomquist, a private college counselor in Northern Virginia.
She used to be the guidance director at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology,
which has the highest SAT average in the country.

Youngblood said he found few surprises in the new PSAT,
usually taken by 10th-graders as preparation for the SAT.
The emphasis will be on algebra, particularly on linear and quadratic equations.

“Students really need to understand what makes up a linear equation,” Youngblood said.
“They should be able to explain in words what a slope of a certain value means in the context of the problem.
Many problems in the new test deal with these concepts.”

He found many more surprises in the prep book for the new SAT released in June.
“Several of the math concepts included
are typically taught in pre-calc [or pre-calculus] as opposed to Algebra 2,”
Youngblood said.
“Students need to understand the remainder theorem of polynomials.
[ f(x) = g(x)q(x) + r(x), where degree r(x) < degree g(x) ]
They need to understand the relationship between the zeros of a polynomial
and its binomial factors.
They must be able to take a quadratic equation
or an equation of a circle in whatever form
and convert it, perhaps by completing the square,
to a form so that they can analyze the graph.”


[If anyone claims that the math topics mentioned above represent "cultural bias",
then they are asserting that math itself is culturally biased,
for those topics are among the basic topics of mathematics.]

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