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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

March 20, 2010

FEDERAL EDUCATION TAKEOVER FLUNKS ITS OWN TEST

USA TDOAY - The basic math and reading skills of USA students have slowly, surely improved over the past 30 to 40 years, new findings show, with sharp increases among many of the nation's lowest-performing students - especially in the past four years.

The bad news? Scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, find that the stubborn, decades-long achievement gap between white and minority students shrank between the 1970s and the first part of this decade, but has barely budged since 2002, when the federal government compelled public schools to address it through No Child Left Behind .

In a few cases the gap has actually grown since 2002, according to NAEP.

Overall scores have risen across the board since then, with an average three-point gain on a 500-point scale - and 10 points since the 1970s.

But the results also show that gaps in reading between white and black 17-year-olds, which shrank 26 points from 1971 to 2004, actually grew by two points in 2008. In math, the black-white gap shrank 13 points between 1978 and 2004, but was essentially unchanged in 2008.

Results were equally flat on the Hispanic-white achievement gap, the findings show.

For more than a decade, states have focused on shrinking skills gaps between ethnic and socio-economic groups. In 2002, Washington explicitly pushed schools to address the problem, requiring them to improve scores in annual math and reading tests through No Child Left Behind, the congressionally mandated school reform law that is now up for reauthorization.


1 Comments:

Blogger Alan said...

National math test scores continue to be disappointing. This poor trend persists in spite of new texts, standardized tests with attached implied threats, or laptops in the class. At some point, maybe we should admit that math, as it is taught currently and in the recent past, seems irrelevant to a large percentage of grade school kids.

Why blame a sixth grade student or teacher trapped by meaningless lessons? Teachers are frustrated. Students check out.

The missing element is reality. Instead of insisting that students learn another sixteen formulae, we need to involve them in tangible life projects. And the task must be interesting.

A Trip To The Number Yard is a math book focusing on the building of a bungalow. Odd numbered chapters cover the phases of the project: lot layout, foundation, framing, all the way through until the trim out. The even numbered chapters introduce the math needed for the next stage of building and/or reviews the previous lessons.

This type of project-oriented math engages kids. It is fun. They have a reason to learn the math they may have ignored in the standard lecture format of a class room.

If we really want kids to learn math and to have the lessons be valuable, we need to change the mode of teaching. Our kids can master the math that most adults need. We can’t continue to have class rooms full of math drudges. Instead, we need to change our tactics and teach math via real life projects.

Alan Cook
info@thenumberyard.com
www.thenumberyard.com

March 22, 2010 2:55 PM  

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