Last night at dinner, a couple of friends were questioning the release time from school the district has provided due to the adoption of a new, complex math program. I understand that it's inconvenient for parents to have to make other arrangements for their children. However, math is no longer 2 + 2, as my friend so glibly asked me.
Elementary school children are expected to tackle concepts that in the past, students didn't touch until middle school, at least. Oh, excuse me, junior high. That's another thing that has changed. Further, 3rd graders (on up) are expected to prove their answers to problem solving tasks, and to be able to explain how they solved them. We are covering geometry, algebra, coordinate graphing, you name it...I teach fifth grade, and it is amazing. Let us remember that each year in Oregon the benchmark for passing the state test keeps being raised, NOT lowered, as another friend stated - baldly untrue. And just because you hear it on the radio don't make it true! (Grammar error on purpose! What would we do without teachers teaching grammar!)
Follow this link to get a taste of what fifth graders have to know these days: http://www.ode.state.or.us/teachlearn/testing/samples/math_gr5_sampletest08.pdf
There is nothing unethical about a practice test, by the way - this comes from the state, and students have to know how to deal with multiple choice questions, deal with testing on a computer instead of paper/pencil, etc.
There was a little steam coming off the top of my head...I wish I could remain calm and try to correct their misperceptions, but I work too damn hard to hear that - and these friends kn0w it.