Archive for the ‘math’ Category

Do weaker math students end up with weaker teachers?

math (Medium)We’ve spent a lot of time on this blog discussing the under performance of Georgia students in math.

We’ve debated the controversial and now abandoned math reforms introduced by former state school chief Kathy Cox, which stumbled in part because teachers were not adequately trained. We’ve talked about whether the problem owes to what’s being taught or who’s teaching it

Here’s some fodder to further our debate. Education Week has an interesting piece on new research on math instruction and teacher assignments. Please read the full piece in Ed Week before commenting.

An excerpt:

In many schools in the United States, students struggling the most in mathematics at the start of high school have the worst odds of getting a qualified teacher in the subject, new research finds. Succeeding in freshman-level mathematics is critical for students to stay on track to high school graduation, with students who make poor grades in math in 8th and 9th grades more likely to leave school …

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New study: Boon in Algebra I in middle school doesn’t lead to higher math performance



A new study suggests pushing more kids into Algebra I in middle school may not pay off. (AJC photo)
A new study suggests pushing more kids into Algebra I in middle school may not pay off. (AJC photo)

A new Brookings study that is part of the annual Brown Center Report on American Education suggests that states have not seen the academic boost they expected from introducing Algebra 1 to a broader range of students in middle school.

This practice has been widely embraced in Georgia under the assumption that Algebra 1 in middle school better readies students for the more rigorous math now being taught in high school.

The study by researcher Tom Loveless seems to end up in the place that much education research does: The concept may haven been good in theory, but the execution stumbled because the Algebra I  was watered down to accommodate weaker students who normally would not have qualified for advanced math in middle school.

According to Education Week: (This is an excerpt. Please read full piece before commenting.)

A new analysis, however, suggests that increased …

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A double dose of algebra improves math and verbal skills as well as college enrollment

Doubling up on algebra classes in high schools has big payoffs, according to a new study.

Doubling up on algebra classes in high schools has big payoffs, according to a new study.

Interesting study out of Texas A&M on the impact of increased algebra exposure in high school:

When students’ time learning algebra is doubled, both their math and verbal skills improve and their rates of college enrollment increase, reveals a study conducted in part by a Texas A&M University researcher.

Kalena Cortes is an assistant professor at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M, and along with Joshua Goodman, assistant professor of public policy at Harvard University, and Takako Nomi, an assistant professor at Saint Louis University, studied the “double dose algebra” policy at Chicago Public Schools, implemented in 2003. The study, funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, “Doubling Up: Intensive Math Instruction and Educational Attainment,” will be published in the winter 2013 edition of the Education Next …

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Teachers refuse to give test, but aren’t there some tests that are worth giving?

crcted.0920 (Medium)Teachers in Seattle are taking a stand against standardized testing by refusing to administer a required district-wide test.

What’s odd to me is the test Seattle teachers are choosing to protest, which is the Measure of Academic Progress. The high performing City of Decatur Schools uses MAP testing as well, giving it three times a year to see where students begin, where they are mid-year and where they are at the end of the year.

My kids attend Decatur schools and are not intimidated by MAP testing as it has been part of their education for a long time.  Nor are they overly concerned with the scores, which they get instantly as the test is taken on a computer. I would be interested in what other Decatur parents out there think about MAP.

As to the comment within the news story below that algebra students see geometry on the test, my kids tell me that the challenge of the questions on the MAP test increases depending on how well a student is doing. If they get a question …

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The power of school music programs: Students come for the music and stay for the math

Melissa Walker, a professional jazz vocalist and president and founder of Jazz House Kids in Montclair, N.J., and Peter Smagorinsky, Distinguished Research Professor of English Education at the University of Georgia, joined forces to write a piece on the benefits of music education.

Here is their essay:

By Melissa Walker and Peter Smagorinsky

Public schools, in general, have become incriminated in the public mind for having failed society. They must be re-envisioned, restructured, reassessed, and refinanced if they are to serve the public good, according to commentators ranging from folks waiting in line at the post office to governors and national policymakers. Given that schools provide the one common experience that all Americans have, it’s easy to blame them for anything that might follow from attendance, no matter how tenuous the connection. If something’s wrong with society, it must be a problem that schools and teachers are responsible for.

One approach to …

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Does a STEM degree guarantee a job? Not always.

math (Medium)Does STEM always spell success for college graduates?

Whenever I write about the efforts to bolster U.S. graduates in science, technology, engineering and math, readers send me notes about their problems finding work despite a STEM degree. And that includes math teachers.

(If you are interested in this topic, take a look at this Duke study on which countries produce more engineers and the job prospects for those graduates. The report concludes: Our research shows that companies are not moving abroad because of a deficiency in U.S. education or the quality of U.S. workers. Rather, they are doing what gives them economic and competitive advantage. It is cheaper for them to move certain engineering jobs overseas and to locate their R&D operations closer to growth markets. There are serious deficiencies in engineering graduates from Indian and Chinese schools. Yet the trend is building momentum despite these weaknesses…The calls to graduate more engineers do not focus on any field …

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Common Core Standards: Sky is not falling, but ground is shifting

Mel Riddile is the associate director for high school services at the National Association of Secondary School Principals. His work in turning around schools in Virginia earned him the 2006 MetLife/NASSP National High School Principal of the Year award. This is his first piece for the AJC Get Schooled blog

By Mel Riddile

To answer a couple of the education questions on the minds of Georgia citizens these days:

Yes, we can expect to see a significant drop in the first year of the new Georgia Performance Standards assessments.

No, the sky is not falling.

But the ground is shifting.

Previous Georgia standards and assessments aimed merely to validate a high school diploma. Nothing more.

The new Georgia Performance Standards, which incorporate the Common Core State Standards, call for a much higher level of student performance as indicators of college-and-career-readiness.

Georgia was one of the first states to adopt the new Common Core standards in English, language arts and …

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Southwest DeKalb High does have math teachers. Just not enough.

DeKalb says it is adding two math support teachers this week at Southwest DeKalb High (AJC file)

DeKalb says it is adding two math support teachers this week at Southwest DeKalb High (AJC file)

I was puzzled when I saw the Twitter comment yesterday from a Southwest DeKalb High School mother that the school lacked math teachers, which sounded impossible. And, in fact, the high school has math teachers, 15 of them.

However, the school did not have the two math teachers needed for an elective class called math support. And that was what alarmed a mom who discovered her daughter was in PE rather than math.

(Two teachers are supposed to be starting this week, according to the county. I am now hearing from other teachers that their schools are also down math teachers and kids have been having long-term subs.  Isn’t this what was supposed to be resolved by the closer alliances between k-12 and the public colleges? Can’t Georgia Tech help with math teachers?)

The mother expressed shock that a high student would go a semester without any math, but that is not uncommon in block …

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Algebra for all: A dumbing-down of U.S. math classes that hurt the most elite students

Jacob Vigdor, a professor of public policy and economics at Duke University, wrote an interesting essay earlier this year challenging the conventional wisdom about school discipline. It led to a lot of discussion here on the blog

I suspect we will see a lot discussion around his latest report about U.S. math instruction. In a report for the American Enterprise Institute, Vigdor explains what has gone amiss with American math education.

In a recent essay based on his research — “Does Your Job Really Require Algebra ? — Vigdor writes:

Unfortunately, the misguided transformation of algebra into a course for the masses has proven to be a cure worse than the disease. The transformation has resulted in a less rigorous course. Introductory textbooks have slimmed down considerably over the past century, omitting some subjects entirely. The primary victims of this dumbing-down are the elite students themselves.

Among the most recent cohorts of college graduates, the proportion …

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Not all math classes are the same even in the same school

math (Medium)Researcher William H. Schmidt believes education has become a game of chance in which the odds of success are predicated on factors outside the control of the students, including where they live, the schools they attend, the teachers they have and the textbooks they use.

An internationally recognized researcher on effective math education, Schmidt says that U.S. students lack equal opportunities to learn math, something he saw firsthand when he took sabbatical from Michigan State University to spend a year at the University of Virginia.

As an author of Michigan’s math standards, Schmidt knew his second grader would have been learning multiplication tables up to the number five back home in East Lansing. In Virginia, multiplication was not taught at all in second grade, reinforcing what Schmidt already realized from his international comparisons: All math classes are not equal and students do not have the same opportunities to learn math.

In his new book “Inequality for …

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