Monday, December 14, 2009

The Nation's Report Card - Math

By Pam Kenney

The results of the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) in math were released December 8, 2009. 18 school districts across the country participated in the study, and the scores allow the public to follow over time the progress of our students' math achievement.

At Nation's Report Card, you can view national, state, and district results for grades 4 and 8. The graphs and tables are excellent and allow you to compare scores from 1990 through 2009. You can look at the information adjusted according to gender, race/ethnicity, type of school, family income level, student disability status, and English language learners. Also, there are links to a press conference about the TUDA Mathematics report card and a narrated presentation on the major findings.

Everyday Mathematics is credited by Washington, D.C. public school teachers and Chancellor Michelle Rhee as one reason why students there have made significant gains in math achievement at both the 4th and 8th grade levels since 2003: "... an increased focus on the use of games, calculators and written responses -- to help students demonstrate their reasoning in solving a problem -- helped drive the gains in scores in the national assessment, known as NAEP." While I agree that deepening children's concept grasp and understanding of problem-solving is vital to success in math, I continue to be unsettled by the relative unimportance of practice and mastery in "reform math" curricula like Everyday Mathematics. My questions, then, are these: Are schools, such as those in D.C., using supplemental materials to fill in the gaps in EDM, thus contributing to the rise in scores? Or - are tests like the NAEP also so focused on the "whys" of math that even studying their results won't tell me whether my fourth grader knows 6*7=42? I don't know the answers to these questions, but I'm going to find out.


Anonymous said...

Rhee has made significant changes to the D. C. schools. If EDM is such a success, why wasn't it successful before? What changed that made it successful now?
3% more are considered proficient, and that's success? I guess if you have little expectations, this is good news.
These poor kids have had the folks in D.C. completely fail them for countless years. The fact that they continue to use the failed Everday Math program tells me they still haven't raised the bar to a worthy level. If you think success is gutter level, you will get gutter level success.

If you truly want to do these kids "justice" you'd eliminate the reform curriculum and bring in a traditional program that actually pepares students for high school mathematics.

Barry Garelick said...

I agree with anonymous. The gain is so small as to be ridiculous. Everyday Math is awful; teachers hate it. Many supplement. At least the good teachers do. I talked with Rhee's right hand person Richard Nyankori about using a program like Singapore Math. He knows the program from his days with Project Ingenuity in Baltimore. He was against it; teacher training is too steep. Actually it isn't. And believe me, DC has paid a bundle in professional development with EM. I saw the budgeted amount when the DCPS voted on it. The amount included professional development.

For more on how DCPS adopted EM without anyone noticing, read my article about it here.