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Hey Trenton! Should More Trenton Students Be Able to Answer This Math Question Correctly?

Wayne Sieloff, of the Trenton Board of Education, said he was disappointed only 63 percent of Trenton students were able to answer what he considered to be an easy math question. What do you think?

You don't get to be the editor of Trenton Patch by majoring in Math. The subject is the bane of my existence and I fear it on a regular basis, but I'm not a Trenton High School student.

Sophomores at the high school scored just one point higher than the national average on the 2012 PLAN test, a precursor to the ACT, and board of education member Wayne Sieloff said he was disappointed with the results.

On the Michigan Merit Exam, .

Sieloff expressed his unhappiness with the test scores that were presented to the board of education at Monday's regularly scheduled meeting. During the presentation a math question found on the test was reviewed.

that only 63 percent of students were able to answer a specific math question successfully. Though, more Trenton students answered the question correctly than the state average of 54 percent, Sieloff said it wasn't enough.

Trenton Patch wants to know if you agree. Do you think more than 63 percent of Trenton High School sophomores should be able to answer the below question correctly?

Let x be an unknown real number. Which of the following puts x, x-1 and x+1 in order from least to greatest?

A. x < x-1 < x+1
B. x < x+1 < x-1
C. x-1 < x < x+1
D. x+1 < x < x-1
E. Cannot be determined from the given information
Nate Stemen (Editor) July 24, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Do you know the answer to the above math question?
Scott Kloock July 24, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Honestly, I would have expected more than 63% to get it right. C
michelle July 24, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Isn't the answer always C when you are not sure? If they used that old strategy maybe more would get it right. In all seriousness, I think I will see if my future 7th grader knows this one. I'll let you know.
Carri DeMaggio July 24, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Maybe forcing kids into accelerated math the past two years, (currently phased out for incoming freshman) while not completely clear on the "trimester" system is the problem. I was very unhappy with how THS handled my daughters math curriculum, seemingly setting her up for failure and not stepping in when it just wasn't working. Her freshman accelerated algebra class had a class average of under 70%!
Essen Davis July 24, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Scary. I did pose the question to my son, a Trenton student just out of 6th grade, and he got it right and explained why he chose the correct answer so it wasn't the old guess c routine :-) He is an A student though, so it may not be indicative of the school population, but this at least means the information is being taught in the schools. I think the school's attempts to disguise math as fun or integrated into classes like fantasy baseball is not working. When basic math symbols symbols look like a foreign language to almost half of the kids - there is a huge problem. Understanding a number-line ordering type question is elementary... The greater than less than signs elementary also... and abstractions of variables middle school. It isn't even a high school math problem which is what makes it scary. How do you teach higher level math in high school if the basics aren't there?
Essen Davis July 24, 2012 at 06:11 PM
(1500 char limit) 
 Recognizing the problem area of math doesn't really take a test. (It existed years ago... even back when the current teachers were students themselves in TPS and elsewhere) I would hope that this would cause adjustments in the curriculum to the middle school and late elementary as opposed to focusing so much on 9th and 10th grade. My high school math teachers at TPS all had great math background and can only assume that is still the case, but they can only impart the information to those who know how important it is to put forth the effort and effort doesn't even save you if show up without the foundations in place. All kids need a good foundation of math and science skills... even if learning them is boring. In the 90's we had college prep pathway and within that track there was AP classes that were math heavy that started in the elementary grades in the 80's.... That ignores a whole lot of kids. And is a problem that repeats itself as the graduates come back as teachers themselves. We can do better. It's not just engineers and computer programmers that need math as adults. A kid that ends up as a road construction worker, homebuilder, firefighter, nurse, welder, machinist, entrepreneur, investor, etc. even a home buyer or consumer benefits themselves and society as a whole by having strong math skills.
michelle July 24, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Essen- sounds like our kids go to school together and perhaps we did. What year did you graduate? I agree with everything you said. I felt that I had such a great education and I'm concerned now that somehow my son is not getting the same. I would love to find out where the issues lie (and fast). He is an honor role student and definitely gets A's in math. That question above was really simple. I hope when I see him later he gets it right! I was always one of the nerdy girls in the advanced math (and science) classes. I also used to tutor math (so my "pick c" was a joke). I beat into his head how important those subjects are. However, it seems that even as much as he pays attention and does well in school, he didn't do as well on the standardized test. He doesn't get anxiety so I really don't know what it was other than him not being taught what he needed to know for it. I hope they find a solution. I would have been able to answer that prior to even reaching high school. :-(
sine-of-the-times July 25, 2012 at 02:48 AM
It's all in the notation...kids know this answer if you use regular numbers. Teachers only have so much time to teach so many things on the trimester. Then, it's a crap-shoot to guess what will or won't be stressed on the test. One year it's stem-leaf plots, the next year it's > and < ...Perhaps it was not a good question...did it test what it set out to? could it have been written better? i.e.) we know that all kids know that having $100 is better than having $10 than having $1...so what exactly is it that we are doing to these kids. AND finally...why are we putting so much emphasis on standardized testing as the only means of evaluation of kids?...oh, yeah, $$$$.
Dave Moody July 25, 2012 at 12:30 PM
I will go even farther back in to math abilities to elementary school. How often do you see the kid at the cash register or filling out a job application not even know how to give out change if they do not ring up the order right? I have a kid that does great in algebra but simple addition and subtraction is beyond her capabilities. Do not blame the high school. Blame the elementary schools if you have to.
Margaret July 25, 2012 at 12:40 PM
1) You have to know what a real number is. 2) You have to know the math symbols greater than, less than, addition, and subtraction. 3) Not have test anxiety. (like me) Taking into consideration that this is a single, non-timed question, unknown difficulty questions prior and after this question to take your math direction in a different way, it's simple for us. I know that with my test anxiety I could get easy questions like this wrong simply from over thinking. So test question-wise this is a fair question to ask. Math skill level to be able to answer this question is to be expected in my opinion.
sine-of-the-times July 25, 2012 at 12:56 PM
There is a lot of debate about "high stakes standardized testing", google it, here is an example of a movement: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/national-resolution-against-high-stakes-tests-released/2012/04/23/gIQApRnNdT_blog.html
Margaret July 25, 2012 at 01:09 PM
If there was a "Like" button, I'd click it for your response. :)
Insider July 25, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Everything in the curriculum across the entire district has been watered (dumbed) down over the past 10 years so students feel successful. Almost ALL kids at the middle school are on the honor roll. Trenton used to be at or near the top in all state and national test results...not even close now!
Dave Moody July 26, 2012 at 03:34 AM
I had an upcoming 10th grader at the High School look at the problem. She got it wrong. From what her mom said, she does well in math. Compared to what is my question?
Lynn July 26, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Wayne Sieloff is correct to be disappointed...I am in shock that we are supposed to have "great" schools in Trenton and do not get the results that we pay for in salaries. This is a crisis in the Trenton schools...
Amy Bruce-Stevens July 30, 2012 at 12:43 PM
This is a little scary to me. I'm pretty sure that if my daughters (who are going into 3rd grade this fall) were to sit down and think about that problem for a minute or two they would be able to figure it out. It's as much a common sense problem as it is a math problem! Yikes! I guess my decision to send my children out of district for school is still a good one...
donna dunaway July 30, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Honestly? My ten year old grand-daughter got the correct answer on the first read through...pathetic.
Amy Bruce-Stevens July 31, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Yep... asked both of my 8 year old soon to be 3rd graders this question when I got home yesterday. Didn't even give them the multiple choice option. Just told them "You have 3 numbers, x, x-1 and x+1. Put them in order from least to greatest using less than and greater than symbols." They both wrote it straight out without even thinking about it. Took them each about 15 seconds. And these 10th graders that didn't know it made it to 10th grade... how?!?
Dave Moody August 01, 2012 at 11:39 AM
My 10th grader was more in a panic because she did not understand the greater than and less than part. It made her freeze up. Yet this is the same kid who is getting an "A" in algebra. She is being moved to Monroe Middle College in September. I grew up in Riverview and was always told Trenton schools were the best. So when the opportunity came to move here we did - specifically because of the schools. Now with them opening up some of the enrollment and things like this I guess it is time to move them to a better school district if I can find one
worried mom August 02, 2012 at 12:36 AM
In fifth grade my daughter took a district wide test that was to go in her file. She told me she did good becuase she didn't get hers back? Come to find out if the students in her class got more than 3 wrong the teacher gave them the test back and had then correct the wrong ones. This is the problem with trenton schools.

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