Math Fair gives warm-up to Graduate Exit Exam

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Press Release

LAPLACE – More than 300 sophomores at East St. John High School competed in a Math Fair this week, taking on algebra and geometry problems they are likely to face again next month when they take the state’s Graduation Exit Exam.

School organizers say it’s was a fun way to help direct the students’ attention on some of the subject material they need to know in order to graduate high school.

“Students in tenth grade aren’t necessarily thinking about the impact that their grades now will have on them later as a potential graduate, but the state’s Graduate Exit Exam is given to tenth graders, and passing that test is a must to receiving a high school diploma,” said East St. John High School Principal Debra Schum.

“We want to prepare our students so they can perform their very best on this test,” she said. “Our teachers are reviewing with our students the types of questions that tend to be on the exam, and we’re trying to find as many ways as possible to reinforce that material.”

The Graduate Exit Exam, which tests students on math, language arts and English, science and social studies, will be administered during the week of March 15-19. Students who pass the test are eligible to receive their high school diploma once they meet the remaining degree requirements. Students who fail the test, or parts of the test, can re-take the failed sections over the next two years in order to qualify for a high school diploma.

Sixteen-year-old Louis Lee, who said he has an A in his geometry class, said he’s not worried about the exam, particularly the math section.

“My teacher has been going over the areas he says will be on the test. I’m taking geometry, but we’re also reviewing algebra equations, because that’s important,” Lee said, waiting his turn in line the school gymnasium to compete in the speed math competition of the fair. When his turn arrived, he received an algebra word problem and was one of the first three students to answer it correctly.

“I’m enjoying math. It’s becoming my favorite subject in school. I know I’m going to pass the exam,” he said.

Nicole Oubre, who said she has a C in her geometry class, isn’t quite as confident.

“I’m getting nervous,” she said. “I took algebra last year, and this year I’m taking geometry and finance math. I like math, but I have to get into it to understand it. I’m glad the teachers are doing this fair and taking time to review the problems with us.”

Classmate Willie Morgan agreed. “I’m not going to lie about it. I’m nervous about the exam, because it determines if I’m graduating or not. I’m glad we’re going over this stuff,” he said.

Claude Hill, Jr., who teaches geometry and algebra II at East St. John High, said he has been highlighting items that tend to be repeated on the test every year. He said the Math Fair also was an opportunity to focus on those items.

“I’ve learned over the years the types of questions the kids tend to have problems with, and I’ve tried to take time to review those with them. I know the test has a heavy concentration on geometry, so I emphasize that material in my class,” Hill said.

The Math Fair focused on math equations, vocabulary terms and theories. Students competed in speed contests, a quiz bowl competition, and a free-throw-shooting contest. Students had to determine the percentage of the shots they made as part of the contest.

Joshua Woodard said he’s confident that his math skills are more on target than his shots – at least on this day. He didn’t make any free throws.

“I was just goofing off on my shots. I do a lot better with the (basketball) team when I have to,” he laughed. “I feel OK about the test. I’ve been studying the sample booklet and taking the sample tests. I think I’m prepared. I’ll do OK.”