Reverse the Damage Done by the Eliminated Algebra 2 EOC
Over the last 2 years, almost 142,000 Florida students failed their Algebra 2 End of Course (EOC) assessment, affecting their course grades and high school GPAs. The Algebra 2 EOC was never fully validated, failed more than 50% of test takers and led to plummeting participation rates in higher math courses; it was arguably the worst of Florida’s state mandated EOCs. After only 3 years, the exam has been eliminated but the damage to students’ GPAs remain. We are calling for the recalculation of Algebra 2 course grades for any student negatively affected by this awful, now eliminated, exam.
On July 1, 2017, HB7069 went into effect and, in addition to the bill’s controversial content, it put an end to the disastrous state mandated Algebra 2 EOC. Reportedly, the elimination of the Algebra 2 EOC was “scrapped at the urging of school administrators who think Florida’s public school students spend too much time taking standardized tests”, but we suspect there is more to the story. Regardless, we are happy to see this “worst of the worst” state assessment gone. Good riddance.
The Algebra 2 EOC was the worst of the state mandated End of Course exams and we have been fighting against it since its first disastrous administration in the spring of 2015. Created by AIR along with the new Florida Standards Assessments, we wrote about its “shortcomings” and called for a complete review of both the standards and assessment in November 2015 (read about it here).
In its inaugural year, 64% of students (including 85% of African American students) failed the Algebra 2 EOC. Commissioner Pam Stewart blamed the initial year’s disastrous results on teachers who “didn’t teach the standards.” Sadly, things didn’t get much better over the next two years:
- The test was poorly designed. Students answering just 22% of the questions correctly could pass this test. Students missing 25% of the questions scored in the 99th percentile. Such results hardly seem to demonstrate “mastery.”
- Even stellar math students left the exam room crushed only to learn, months later, they had passed the exam.
- The Technical Reports demonstrated that Algebra 2 EOC was more difficult than expected for the test population, with an atypical standard error curve.
- The Alpine Validity Study completely ignored the Algebra 2 EOC.
- Failure rates have remained high with 60% failing in 2016 and 51% failing in 2017. In total, 141,826 students failed the EOC those years. The slight improvement in passing rates may be due to the decline in course participation…
- Participation dramatically fell (participation in 2015: 158,015, 2016: 134,256, 2017: 120,162, a decline of 24% over 2 years) which should not be surprising since the passing rates were so low and were calculated into both school grades and student GPA. Administrators and parents would be looking for ways to minimize the test’s impact, the simplest way would be to enroll lower performing students in an alternate math class.
The Algebra 2 was a bad test, it failed many students and it resulted in fewer students taking advanced math courses in high school. The use of Algebra 2 EOC scores in the calculation of high school grades, appears to have incentivized school administrators to funnel some students away from higher level math classes. We wish the FLDOE would own up to it and admit the exam was a failure. Instead, they suggest the test was scrapped as a way to reduce testing. Right.
Over the past 2 years, Algebra 2 scores were used to calculate school grades and teacher VAM scores. They, also, counted for 30% of a student’s course grade. The 141,826 who failed the Algebra 2 EOC in 2016 and 2017 saw their class grades and high school GPAs suffer from this bad assessment. This includes:
- 91,884 11th and 12 graders: FAILED.
- 43,148 10th graders who were talented enough in math to be accelerated into Algebra 1 in 8th grade: FAILED.
- 6,733 9th graders who were talented enough in math to be accelerated into Algebra 1 in 7th grade: FAILED.
- And even 71 8th graders who were talented enough in math to be accelerated into Algebra 1 in 6th grade, FAILED.
- In total, 141,826 students were FAILED by this exam.
In addition, the way a student’s EOC score is translated to a student’s course grade varies between districts (learn more here). Some students, in some districts, have seen their course grade decline despite passing the Algebra 2 EOC. These students have also been negatively affected by this now extinct test.
Over the past two years,many students’ course grades and GPAs suffered from this bad test. These students will be applying to college with lower marks, merely because of this bad test. They will be competing for college admission against students taking Algebra 2 before or after the test was administered and ALL private school students who are exempt from state testing. They will be at a distinct disadvantage for college admissions where every point counts. This is NOT okay. The FLDOE should admit this was a bad test, come to the aid of these students and reverse the harm that was caused to them by the Algebra 2 EOC.
We encourage students, parents and educators to join us in advocating for the recalculation of Algebra 2 course grades for any student negatively affected by this awful, now eliminated, exam. Contact your superintendent and state legislator today.