Friday, April 13, 2007

Nova Scotia High School Math Results

72% of English schooled Nova Scotian Grade 12 students failed the provincial math assessment, according to this year's Ministers Report to Parents. The Chronicle Herald reports:
Only 28 per cent of students in English schools passed the Grade 12 provincial math exam in 2005-06, down from 31 per cent the year before, say results released Thursday by Education Minister Karen Casey.

The average mark was 39 per cent in regular math, a drop from 41 per cent in 2004-05. Students taking advanced math fared a little better — 52 per cent passed, compared to 57 per cent in 2005. The average mark for the advanced students was 51 per cent, down from 54.

Should we be concerned? Yes. I for one am very concerned. High school math is necessary for citizens to evaluate the economic policies of their political leaders. It is my belief that if more students understood math, Nova Scotia wouldn't be in the economic hole it is in today.

Without a foundation in math, we end up with dozens of economic development boards that do more harm than good. We have people who stand by as spending outstrips revenue year after year. Since so many fail math, Nova Scotians just don't comprehend how much debt they put their children into. It isn't even possible to talk to people about the importance of capital formation, multiplier effects of banks, free trade, etc.

Another interesting fact is that 41% of English students took the advanced math exam, even though it is meant for the top 20% of students who head into the sciences or engineering. In other words, too many kids think they're smart and teachers are afraid to demote students to more appropriate levels. It makes me wonder how many unqualified students roam the halls of universities today, deflating the worth of degrees for everyone else.