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
"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.
Boston, Massachusetts, USA