Kentucky high school students worried about the math portion of a statewide assessment test have another reason to be stressed.
The Kentucky Department of Education this week announced it will no longer allow students to use calculators that have the algebra software package Zoom Math while taking the ACT Compass test. That test is taken by high school seniors who haven’t met college-readiness benchmarks on the ACT test taken during their junior year.
Northern Kentucky University Math Professor Steve Newman helped lead the charge against Zoom Math, and says students who knew little algebra were able to use the software to get passing grades on the test.
“And that doesn’t mean they know anything about mathematics, know how to solve equations, or do all the kinds of things that colleges require them to know.” Newman told WKU Public Radio.
Newman says he helped lead several experiments at NKU that looked into the impact of Zoom Math on a test-taker’s ability to get the right answer on the ACT Compass test. The Kentucky Department of Education also conducted similar studies.
Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday is warning districts to expect low scores in reading and math when the results of new state tests are revealed. In a blog post Tuesday in a newsletter for teachers, Holliday said scores will be lower in reading and math because the tests are based on benchmarks from new guidelines the state has adopted for English and mathematics.