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### The impact of changes to the New York State Regents Exam in first-year mathematics courses on percentage of student’s passing the exam

Dan Fasano & Kevin McGoey

Abstract

- The purpose of this researcher was to investigate the impact of curricular changes to first-year, high school level Regents examinations in mathematics on the percentage of student’s passing the examinations.The participants for this study include high school students enrolled in 9th grade math courses in public high schools located in Suffolk County, New York in the years 1999 to 2011. Data were compiled through the use of the Suffolk County edition of Data Points (Hughes, 2012). Results were analyzed using SPSS software for statistical analyses Version 20.0. Analyses included conducting a One-Way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) to test differences among the percentage of students passing three New York State Regent Exams in Algebra: Sequential I, Math A and Integrated Algebra. A post-hoc analysis was conducted using the Scheffee and Tukey HSD tests. This analysis found significant differences among the percentage of students passing the state assessments.

Purpose of the Study

- The purpose of this researcher was to investigate the impact of curricular changes to first-year, high school level Regents examinations in mathematics on the percentage of student’s passing the examinations.Between 1999 and 2011, the New York State Education Department changed the first-year, high school level curriculum in response to No Child Left Behind and internal Standards Committee reports. As of 2014, the curriculum will again change to reflect the newly adopted Common Core State Learning Standards. These curricular changes have resulted in Regents Examination changes and realignments that saw the Sequential I Regents examination replaced by the Math A Regents examination, which was then replaced by the Integrated Algebra Regents examination.It is possible that these changes led to a difference in the percentage of students passing the exam. This empirical study uses a quantitative, quasi-experimental design to examine the effects of a changing mathematics curriculum and the overall student performance.

Rationale/Significance

- The rationale for the study was to examine the impact of curricular changes to the first-year Mathematics Regents on the percentage of student’s passing the examinations. Mathematics education has gone through drastic changes since its inception in 1866. With such a global emphasis on the need for better understanding and application in the fields of math and science it is imperative that school districts are preparing students to thrive in these areas as best as possible. Districts as well as New York State as a whole must evaluate the current system in place and make a determination as to whether or not students are benefiting from the changes in the curriculum or more adaptations are needed.

Research Questions

- Have changes to the first-year, high school math curriculum (Sequential I to Math A to Integrated Algebra) significantly improved the percentage of students passing the Regents examination?
- Does the current Integrated Algebra Regents examination reflect the highest percentage of students passing when compared to Sequential I and Math A examinations?

Hypothesis

- It is hypothesized that changes to the type of test given for the New York State Regents Exam in the area of mathematics, specifically high school algebra, will significantly increase the percentage of students achieving proficiency on standardized assessments in public school districts of Suffolk County, New York. The independent variable is the type of New York State Regents exam with three levels: Sequential I, Math A, and Integrated Algebra. The dependent variable is operationally defined as the percentage of students in each district achieving a passing score of 3 points or greater on a scale of 1-4 for each test type of the New York State Regents exams.

Review of Literature

- What students should know and be able to do in mathematics is a critical aspect of the standards debate. Fueled by international comparisons of student achievement, such as the Third International Mathematics and Science Study, national councils and commissions have agreed that all students should learn a more challenging math curriculum (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1989; Pendergast, 1989; Riley, 1997).

Review of Literature Cont.

- The New York State Board of Regents, in 1996, decided to revise their diploma system to realign with the original intent of high standards for all students. Now offering only one diploma, all students would be educated to the same standards and assessed using the same quality control system (Watson, 2010). The decision to make the change to one diploma system helped New York State comply with The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 when it was enacted.

Review of Literature Cont.

- The No Child Left Behind Act of 2011 made high stakes testing a requirement for certain federal funding (Watson, 2011). In addition, under No Child Left Behind, Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) was introduced which intended to measure a schools progress towards proficiency.
- The New York State’s Regents examinations met the requirements of No Child Left Behind and further moved the State toward a standards-based, high stakes testing accountability system.

Review of Literature Cont.

- State officials created this committee after nearly two-thirds of students failed the Math A exam in 2003. The committee found that “high schools lacked a clearly defined plan of instruction for math education. Teachers tried to develop classes that would prepare students for the Math A and B Regents exams, but content often differed from school to school around the state” (Saulny, 2005).

Methodology

- Subjects/Participants
- The participants for this study include high school students enrolled in 9th grade math courses in public high schools located in Suffolk County, New York in the years 1999 to 2011.

Methodology

- Procedures
- Data were compiled through the use of the Suffolk County edition of Data Points (Hughes, 2012). Data Points is a compilation of data from several areas of the State Education Department and separate agencies of the New York State Government (Hughes, 2012). The independent variable is the type of test administered for the New York State Regents Exam with three levels: Sequential I, Math A, and Integrated Algebra. Results of the Sequential I Regents were obtained for the years 1999-2002, results of the Math A Regents were obtained for the years 2003-2008, and results of the Integrated Algebra Regents were obtained for the years 2009-2011. The dependent variable of District Math Achievement is operationally defined as the percentage of students in each district achieving a passing score of 3 points or greater on a scale of 1-4 for each test type of the New York State Regents exams.

Methodology

- Reliability
- The New York State Board of Regents produces a detailed Technical Report on Reliability and Validity. Reliability is defined as “the consistency of the scores obtained- how consistent they are for each individual from one administration of an instrument to another and from one set of items to another” (Frankel, Wallen, & Hyuen, 2012). Reliability coefficients indicate the estimated reliability of each test item.

Methodology

- Validity
- Validity refers “to the appropriateness, meaningfulness correctness, and usefulness of the inferences a researcher makes” (Frankel, Wallen, & Hyuen, 2012). New York State Regents exams are criterion-based. The assessments are directly related to the content standards. This ensures that the New York State Regents exams demonstrate good content validity. Content-validity addresses whether the test adequately samples the material taught in class (New York State Education Department, 2009).

Methodology

- Analysis
- Results were analyzed using SPSS software for statistical analyses Version 20.0. Analyses included conducting a One-Way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) to test differences among the percentage of students passing three New York State Regent Exams in Algebra: Sequential I, Math A and Integrated Algebra. Significant differences were found among the percentage of students passing the state assessments and a post-hoc analysis was conducted using the Scheffee and Tukey HSD tests.

Results

- A One-Way ANOVA was used to test differences among the percentage of students passing three New York State Regent Exams in Algebra: Sequential 1, Math A and Integrated Algebra. The percentage of students passing differed significantly across the three exams, F (2, 170) = 51.039, p = 0.00.

Results

- Scheffe post-hoc comparisons of the three exams indicate that the percentage of students passing Integrated Algebra (M = 85.11, SD = 12.16) was significantly higher than students passing the Math A (M = 78.13, SD = 11.99), p = 0.014 and Sequential 1 exam (M = 60.91, SD = 15.35, 95% CI), p = 0.00. In addition, Scheffe post-hoc comparisons indicate that the percentage of students passing Math A was significantly higher than the percentage of students passing the Sequential 1 exam p = 0.00. Therefore, the percentage of students passing the Sequential 1 exam was significantly lower than the percentage of students passing the other two exams, p < 0.014. Similar post-hoc comparisons were also found using Tukey HSD.

Discussion

- There continues to be widespread concern in the United States about the performance of students on standardized tests in the area of mathematics. In particular, the concern focuses on student performance on various international tests. The concern is further compounded by Federal laws like No Child Left Behind (Garfunkel & Mumford, 2011).
- In reviewing curriculum and student performance, New York State has revised the math curriculum and made changes to the Regents for first-year, high school courses in the area of mathematics.

Limitations

- This study is limited to the examination of the variances between the Regents examinations of Sequential I mathematics for the years 1999-2002, Math A for the years 2003-2008, and Integrated Algebra for the years 2009-2011. The study used participants from Suffolk County, New York and did not consider participants from other sections of New York State.

Future Research Questions

- Have the changes to first year math regents courses had an impact on year two achievement that same year? Meaning, is there a gap in content from year one to year two due to the change and has this affected achievement?
- How does achievement in New York State compare with other states that did not make the same changes?

References

- Darling-Hammond, L. (2006). Standards, assessments, and educational policy: in pursuit of genuine accountability. Princeton, N.J.: ETS
- Fraenkel, J. R., Wallen, N., & Hyun H. (2012). How to design and evaluate research in education. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
- Garfunkel, S. & Mumford, D. (2011, August 24). How to fix math education. The New York Times.
- Hughes, J. (2012). School district almanac (suffolk county edition). SCOPE and Connolly-Cormack Publishers.

References Cont.

- Klein, D. (2003). A brief history of american K-12 mathematics education in the 20th century. Mathematical Cognition.
- New York State Education Department, Pearson. (2009). New york state regents examination inintegrated algebra, june 2009 administration: technical report on reliability and validity. Retrieved from http://http://www.p12.nysed.gov/assessment/reports/2009/ia-tr-rv609.pdf

References Cont.

- Pendergast, A. (Eds.). (1989). Everybody counts: A report to the nation on the future of mathematics education. Washington, DC: National Research Council
- Riley, R.W. (1997). Mathematics equals opportunity. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.
- Saulny, S. (2005, March 16). State approves new standards for high school mathematics. The New York Times.

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