Well, no, not really. But I did have “It’s a Beautiful Life” inexplicably stuck in my head in class today; inexplicable, that is, until I realized that the words “Change of Base” were being bandied about all day. (If you want to know what the change of base formula is you can click here, but be careful because following this link may cause blood to shoot out of your eyeballs. Thankfully Wikipedia comes to the rescue with a concise and non-ugly presentation of the change of base formula.) But there are more important things to consider about my Algebra class.

We took a test on Friday and nearly three quarters of the class did not finish the test. We got our tests back and the mean score was somewhere near 50%. How could so many students be struggling to the point of failure? Consider this sample from my test.

I got every part of the answer right. The table is correct. The graph is correct. I failed to show how that (1/3)^{-2} is equivalent to 3^{2}. But the next step was performed properly. Such a simple calculation as taking the reciprocal and squaring it is an autopilot operation to me. I tried my best to meet the draconian “show all work” requirements set by my teacher, but according to her I skipped a step. I guess I skipped it twice, so that’s why I lost two points for a correct answer. Okay, let’s take a look at the next problem.

How? Maybe I followed the directions and used my calculator’s graphing functionality? And insects? I leave off the word “insects” on a math test and I lose 2 points? What the heck!? And these were the questions I got **right**!

With grading like this I shouldn’t be surprised that I need to get 88% on the rest of the quizzes and tests in the class just to pass. I’m tempted to go drop the class, but I switched the grading to credit/no credit a couple weeks ago, so I guess I ought to just finish it up and give it my best shot. At least it will help me when I take the class again. Oh, and there were some people that learned today that no matter what they do they can no longer pass the class. They seemed really happy about their plight as they grabbed their belongings and stormed out of the class. I wonder how many people will end up passing. I’m guessing less than one quarter of those that started.