
Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Posted:
Mar 23, 2012 7:29 PM


On Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 4:31 PM, Ken Abbott <abbottsystems@gmail.com> wrote: > Does America leads the world in math education? Nope. The US is being kicked in the groin by China and most other countries. The USA is a joke in Math. I've travelled around and hear the jokes. Why is this? Is it because US Math teachers suck so bad? Or is it because US math students suck so bad? It has to be one or the other, because the US in Math is a world joke. >
Let's look below the surface  let's dig deeper for what the truth really is, shall we?
See what this conservative economist (PostDoc at the University of Chicago and a Research Fellow at the Institute of Industrial Economics) has to say about what is actually going on with these international comparisons:
"The amazing truth about PISA scores: USA beats Western Europe, ties with Asia." http://supereconomy.blogspot.com/2010/12/amazingtruthaboutpisascoresusa.html
Quote: "Once we correct (even crudely) for demography in the 2009 PISA scores, American students outperform Western Europe by significant margins and tie with Asian students."
In addition, note that PISA tests 15 year olds that may already be in high schools in Europe, and if they are not, they immediately or almost immediately go into high school. But in Europe, depending on the country, fully half to two thirds of the student population goes not into academic high schools but into vocational high schools, depending on the country. All of US students go into academic high schools. If fully half to two thirds of those European students taking PISA are not in or going into vocational high schools, then the distribution of those representing those countries are unfairly skewed toward their top one half to one third of their student populations, which is an unfair comparison to those representing the US, which represent the entire US student population and is not skewed toward the top one half to one third of the US student population.
The conservative Heritage Foundation points out that the US public school system is doing a good job educating roughly 60% of the US student population, this 60% measures third best in the world in reading on PISA:
http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2011/04/TheMythofRacialDisparitiesinPublicSchoolFunding
Quote:
"If white American students were counted as a separate group, their PISA reading score would rank them third in the world."
[3] U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "PISA 2009," Tables R1 and R3, athttp://nces.ed.gov/pubs2011/2011004_1.pdf (April 1, 2011). The U.S. as a whole is not included when ranking each American ethnic group.
[Note: NonHispanic white students make up about 60% of the US student population.]
"TIMSS Results Place Massachusetts Among World Leaders in Math and Science" http://www.doe.mass.edu/news/news.aspx?id=4457
Quote:
"In math, the state's eighth graders scored 547, ranking sixth behind Chinese Taipei (598), Republic of Korea (597), Singapore (593), Hong Kong SAR (572), and Japan (570).
"Massachusetts has a long history of success with education reform and the academic achievement of students," said Education Secretary Paul Reville. "Our students have consistently performed at the highest levels on many national measures and now we have confirmation that many are prepared according to an international measure. Our task now is to transform our public education system so that all students receive the education, support and guidance they need to improve their achievement and acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to prepare them for higher education and an everevolving workforce."
...
Other findings include: * Massachusetts 8th graders made significant gains in math and science performance on TIMSS between 1999 and 2007. In math, the state's 8th graders improved by 34 points, from 513 in 1999 to 547 in 2007. In science, 8th graders scored 23 points higher in 2007 (556) than in 1999 (533). There are no trend results for the state's 4th graders. * In grade 8 science, 20% of Massachusetts students met the Advanced Benchmark, behind Singapore (32%) and Chinese Taipei (25%). In math, 16% of the state's 8th graders scored Advanced, behind Chinese Taipei (45%), the Republic of Korea (40%), Singapore (40%), Hong Kong SAR (31%), and Japan (26%)."
And see this:
"Highlights From TIMSS 2007: Mathematics and Science Achievement of U.S. Fourth and EighthGrade Students in an International Context" http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2009/2009001_suptables.pdf
See Table E14 for the mean 4th and 8th grade mathematics scores of the nonHispanic white students from the US:
For 4th grade: It is 550. This is higher than the mean score of every last nonEastAsian country in the world that took TIMSS in 2007.
For 8th grade: It is 533. This is higher than the mean score of every last nonEastAsian country in the world that took TIMSS in 2007.
See Table E33 for the mean 4th and 8th grade science scores of the nonHispanic white students from the US:
For 4th grade: It is 567. This is higher than the mean score of every last nonEastAsian country in the world that took TIMSS in 2007.
For 8th grade: It is 551. This is higher than the mean score of every last nonEastAsian country in the world that took TIMSS in 2007.
Finally, consider the research study I keep citing published in 2000. They found that even those who failed their AP Calculus test are getting as much or better training in advanced math than those advanced math students in all those countries that took the TIMSS Advanced math test in both 1995 and 2008, including the highest scoring countries:
"How Well Do Advanced Placement Students Perform on the TIMSS Advanced Mathematics and Physics Tests?" http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/public/repository/ap01.pdf.ti_7958.pdf
See pages 11 and 15. It shows that even those AP Calculus students in that study who failed their AP Calculus exam with only a score of 1 or 2 still had a higher scaled score on this retake of the TIMSS Advanced math test than even the highest scoring country in either the 1995 or 2008 TIMSS Advanced math test. These US students in that study who failed their AP Calculus exam with only a 1 or 2 still had such high levels of advanced mathematics knowledge and understanding and skill that they scored 565 on that TIMSS Advanced math test. The students who took the test for France in 1995 had the highest score in 1995 on the TIMSS Advanced Math test with a score of 557, and the students who took the test for Russia in 2008 had the highest score in 2008 on the TIMSS Advanced Math test with a score of 561. Here is the proof of this fact that even those who failed their AP Calculus exams were still so well educated in advanced math:
Exhibit 5: Average Achievement of AP Calculus Students in Advanced Mathematics by Results AP Calculus Examinations:
Less than 3 on AP Calculus AB 565 (TIMSS Advanced math average score) 3 or better on AP Calculus AB 586 (TIMSS Advanced math average score) Less than 3 on AP Calculus BC 564 (TIMSS Advanced math average score) 3 or better on AP Calculus BC 633 (TIMSS Advanced math average score)
That is, the AP Calculus students in this study who failed their AP Calculus exams had slightly better math knowledge and understanding and skill than the average advanced math student that took either the 1995 or 2008 advanced math test from even the highest scoring country. Those who passed their AP Calculus exams scored very much higher. This is VERY significant in terms of how well educated those US students that take the AP Calculus tests are educated in advanced math.
This 2000 study used exactly the same sampling techniques used by the countries in the TIMSS Advanced math test. What this means is that even if the true average level of all those who take and pass or fail their AP Calculus exam is not quite this high, this study shows that it is still the case that those who take AP Calculus exams and especially pass them are still getting a math education that is statistically comparable to the average students of the best scoring countries in the world in TIMSS Advanced in both the 1995 and 2008 tests, which is very significant because of the percentages.
What do I mean by the percentages? This is what I mean:
The countries that scored highest in the TIMSS Advanced math and science test of 2008 were Russia and Netherlands. But they sent students that represented only the top roughly one and a half percent and three and a half percent respectively of their entire high school senior aged populations (and this includes all those of that age not in school). And they still scored lower than the US students who took that TIMSS Advanced retest, including even those who failed their AP Calculus tests. Those who took an AP Calculus test in 2010 represented roughly 7.5% of the entire high school senior aged population (and this includes all those of that age not in school) of the US in 2010 (roughly 320,000 took a test). Those who passed represented roughly 4.6% (roughly 200,000 passed). That is, by that 2000 study, we can expect that our roughly top 7.5% (those who took an AP Calculus exam) would have scored as well or better or even much better than their roughly 1.5% and 3.5%, and we can expect that our roughly top 4.6% (those who passed an AP Calculus exam) would have compared even that much better.
(If there exists another country in the world outside of possibly those four East Asian countries of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore that would do better than this in terms of how large a percentage of the entire population of that age that would score this well on such tests like TIMSS Advanced or especially an AP Calculus exam, then name that country. Note: That country would not be China, since at least half of that country still lives in third world conditions. Those who are from China in those international tests for [for 8th graders] TIMSS and [for 15 year olds] PISA are cherry picked from the best school districts in the country, Hong Kong and Shanghai. But note that performance for these Chinese students falls off for even the next best school district, Macau, on these international tests  but we never hear about that. In addition, after the very high results from Shanghai on PISA, President Hu Jintao said that the world should not expect the same high results as more and more of China is represented on these tests. By all the above data, if the US were allowed to cherry pick like this, the US would be very much in the very top rank at the top of the world.)

