Evaluation For Quantitative Research Term Paper

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Germantown Friends School (GFS) in Philadelphia introduced ninth-grade physics (replacing ninth-grade biology) in 1999. I have studied the effect of this change on the mathematical performance of students on standardized tests taken late in the eighth grade and early in the tenth grade. I examined data for six classes, three that did not have ninthgrade physics and three that did have it, including in the survey only students who were enrolled at GFS in the eighth, ninth, and tenth grades. There were no significant differences in the performance of the six classes on the Quantitative Ability sub-test of the CTP III test in the eighth grade. However, all three classes that had ninth-grade physics performed significantly better on the mathematical section of the PSAT in the tenth grade than did the three classes that did not have ninth-grade physics. This result is not entirely surprising, since the ninth-grade physics course, despite its conceptual focus, did make use of some algebra and a small amount of geometry. INTRODUCTION AND METHODOLOGY In the fall of 1999, Germantown Friends School (GFS) "inverted" its upper-school science sequence from biology-chemistry-physics to physics-chemistry-biology, joining about 150 other schools which, at that time, had opted for "physics first"1. Although the arguments in favor of the inverted sequence1-8 are persuasive, they are based more on the intellectual logic of the sequence than on measured outcomes. I do not know of any quantitative studies that explore the effects of teaching physics in the ninth grade. I set out to explore one small facet of the GFS changehow replacing biology by physics in the ninth grade affects the math skills of the students. Setting The students attending this K-12, co-educational, private day school are from Philadelphia and surrounding suburbs. Although many are from
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