Washington Post editorial on Thomas Jefferson High School of Science and Technology.
The Post editorial is a continuation of the John Dell op ed about remedial math.
A simple solution to restore fairness and keep TJ an advanced school is the following.
Increase the difficulty of the math entrance exam until the number who pass equal the number of spaces available. This would probably end up partly into Algebra II.
The above exam may still be too easy to actually reduce the number of applicants to the number of spaces. But it would do a reasonable job and would filter out those who don’t belong.
The math classes don’t really include algebra I or introductory algebra II. So the admissions exam should start at algebra II level.
The math part of the TJ admissions exam is too easy.
Students at TJ could take
9th grade geometry on side
9th grade advanced algebra II, trig and analytic geometry
10th grade advanced pre-calculus
11th grade calculus
12th grade post calculus classes.
This is consistent with courses already offered. Students should really have done basic algebra II already when entering TJ. They should be ready for advanced topics in algebra 2 and then more from there.
It might be necessary to make the algebra 2 entrance exam harder than the above exam. This could include long division of polynomials and factoring.
An even better approach would be Peano Axiom proofs including those of mathematical induction and Peano Axioms. This would mean proving addition and multiplication of natural numbers are commutative, associative and the distributive law. Various successor identities also can be used as test problems and some other variants.
The math courses at TJ are exciting, but the students need to be further ahead in math at the time of the admissions test than in the current test. The current test is much too easy for the lower math courses at TJ.
Students at TJ need an exciting and quick start to math in 9th grade that gets them far along compared to the regular high schools. This means advanced algebra II, trig and analytic geometry in 9th grade.
See also the following Washington Post article on TJ.
Math and science gaps found at elite Fairfax school
By Emma Brown, Wednesday, May 30, 9:04 PM
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