Date: Jun 20, 1995 5:33 PM Author: Anne Wheelock Subject: contribution of standards? I continue to try to puzzle out what contributions the standards are

making/have made/can make to improved math achievement. Are they necessary

but not sufficient? If so, what more is needed? Are they unnecessary?

It's stories like these that trigger my interest. This is from the "Daily

Report Card" of the Education Commission of the States.

==== STANDARD BEARERS ====

*8 MATHEMATICS ACHIEVEMENT: IMPROVEMENTS ARE MODEST

According to a new study by the Policy Information Center at

the Educational Testing Service, mathematics achievement is

improving, the gap in achievement between males and females is

closing and the use of technology in classrooms is on the rise

(ETS press release, 5/25). "Mathematics achievement is on the

rise in America, especially across the decade from 1982 to 1992.

However, many challenges remain in the areas of providing quality

instruction, helping students use math for problem solving,

reasoning mathematically, and better preparing all math

teachers," wrote Ina Mullis, co-author of the report and former

director of the National Assessment of Educational Progress at

ETS.

"Reaching Standards: A Progress Report on Mathematics,"

examines how much progress educators have made in attaining the

five goals established by the National Council of Teachers of

Mathematics. The goals include: 1) Learn to Value Mathematics;

2) Become Confident in Their Ability to Do Mathematics; 3) Become

Mathematical Problem Solvers; 4) Learn to Communicate

Mathematically; and 5) Learn to Reason Mathematically. "To these

ends, the NCTM Standards envision classrooms as places where

interesting problems are regularly explored using important

mathematical concepts. The premise is that what a student learns

depends to a great degree on how he or she has learned it,"

writes the report.

Among the report's findings: most students spend more time

each day watching television -- at least three hours -- than they

do learning how to read, write and do math; about 70% of 12th-

graders agreed that mathematics is useful for solving everyday

problems; only 5% - 10% of students are able to demonstrate

satisfactory or in-depth performance on problem-solving tasks;

less than 5% of students in grades 8 and 12 were asked to write

reports or do mathematics projects on a weekly basis; and only

22% of 4th-grade students were able to solve a problem about

earning money on a class trip. The ETS used NAEP data to assess

students, notes the press release.

"The NAEP assessment results suggest that all concerned have

made an excellent beginning toward improving mathematics

learning, but perseverance is required to sustain the effort,"

writes John Dossey, who co-authored the report with Mullis and

Mary Lindquist. The report writes that Dossey and Lindquist are

both former presidents of the NCTM.

Despite overall improvements, the authors caution that the

improvements are modest and that great disparities among minority

and poor children still exist, writes the press release. "We

must renew our commitment to a comprehensive mathematics

education for every student, have high expectations of all

students, and assist in helping each student reach his or her

potential," pens the report.

"Reaching Standards: A Progress Report on Mathematics" is

available for $9.50 prepaid. Make your check or money order

payable to ETS Policy Information Center. Send requests to ETS

Policy Information Center (O4-R), Rosedale Road; Princeton, N.J.

08541-0001.

Anne Wheelock

wheelock@shore.net

Boston, Massachusetts, USA