Most of Vermont's high school students are not making the grade when it comes to math.
"We might have taped this last year because it is really the same story as it was last year, that we really continue to be concerned with our high school math scores," said Michael Hock, the Vermont director of education assessment.
Standardized NECAP test scores released Wednesday show just 38 percent of the state's eleventh-graders are proficient in math.
"Particularly boys and particularly boys who live in poverty, that number is disgracefully low. I don't know how else to say it," Vt. Education Secretary Armando Vilaseca said.
Vilaseca isn't mincing words about the problem or what he says are the solutions. Vilaseca and Gov. Peter Shumlin want to make algebra and geometry mandatory for high school students. The secretary also wants to see licensing requirements for teachers starting at the elementary level change to include more math.
"To me it's non-negotiable, to me it's not negotiable to raise our math requirements for graduation. I think we have to look at science as well, but that's a different conversation. And I also think it is non-negotiable to look at increasing our expectations for teachers to teach math," Vilaseca said. There are some signs of progress with 2012 numbers: 51 percent of elementary students rated as "proficient" in writing-- up 5 percentage points from 2011. Middle schoolers scored at 66 percent proficiency-- up 7 points from the year before. Hock admits the NECAPs may not be perfect, but they give a uniform picture of progress across the state.
"It's the one common yardstick that we can use across Vermont where all students are measured against the same set of standards," Hock said.
Reading and math scores for all grade levels remained essentially unchanged between 2011 and 2012.
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