Weekly Math Updates
December 13, 2008
Be sure to watch next week as I'll have a little Christmas present for you... :)
2007 TIMSS Results Made Public
This past week the scores from the last TIMSS exam were released. They were of special interest to see what would happen with Singapore's scores since they switched their curriculum a few years ago from Primary Math to "My Pals". Interestingly, they dropped a little bit and no longer hold the top spot in the world, giving some level of evidence that Primary Math is indeed the very best curriculum.
The NASA math bill being written for this legislative session mandates that those who apply for and receive grant money to participate, will use the Primary Math series for 1-6 (Kindergarten will use the relatively new "Earlybird" book since Singapore doesn't do Kindergarten with their children), and "New Elementary Math" for 7-8.
To see the details on the TIMSS results, you can visit these sites. The United States did move up slightly in comparison to the top ranking countries.
Stupid in Utah
For those of you that missed last Saturday's "Red Meat Radio" with Howard Stephenson, it was two hours of exposing some of the problems that exist within the Utah education community, and specifically in the Department of Education. Senator Stephenson did point out that most of the people are great people interested in the real education of our children. It's just those other bad eggs that give educrats a well deserved title. Among the things mentioned was how the legislature is trying to make the education community transparent and give parents the ability to see their children's scores shortly after an exam. The Ed folks don't like that because it means accountability and there are people within the department specifically working against the State Superintendent and the legislators who are trying to enact this.
The Tribune carried an article last week that talked about the show and you can read it at this next link. What you need to know is that Senator Stephenson is one of the best advocates and most principled legislators you could ever get to know. Having worked with him for a couple years now, it has been a privilege to have his support and friendship.
World Class Math Study
This study was recently pointed out to me and it's a great resource. The authors of this study state:
Unsurprisingly, this was the list of why the U.S. curriculum was suffering compared to top performing countries.
Examining the widening test gap, the researchers found the same thing all of you know, that these fuzzy math programs favor wealthy parents who can afford tutoring and supplementing for their children. They actually increase the education gap between the rich and the poor.
The researchers then looked at what California has done over the last few years when their standards were raised and the impact that has had on education in California. The results are impressive and if you look at the graphs in the document above, you'll see outstanding increases over the 5 year period they studied the conversion to world class standards and better curriculum.
A Teacher Tries Singapore Math and Comments on it
A 6th grade teacher in Utah attended the Singapore math training in October. She works at a Title 1 school with high poverty. She was so impressed by what she saw at the training, she immediately went back and started to incorporate it into her classroom. These were her comments passed on to me this week.
As I previously wrote, at Benchmark charter school in Arizona, they are the top math school in the state, they use Singapore math, and over 94% of the students in the school report that math is their favorite subject. Curriculum makes a difference.
Articles of Interest
Singapore math makes a difference in Philly.com
NPR: All Things Considered
Till next week,
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