Thursday, December 17, 2009

Edublog 2009

Richard Byrne's Free Technology for Teachers blog wins again! He is a social studies teacher at Oxford Hills High School. Congratulations, Richard!

The Edublog Awards 2009

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.