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Topic: [math-learn] Why Minnesotans Excel at Math and Other Mysteries of the Nation's
Report Card

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Richard Hake

Posts: 1,251
From: Woodland Hills, CA 91367
Registered: 12/4/04
[math-learn] Why Minnesotans Excel at Math and Other Mysteries of the Nation's
Report Card

Posted: Dec 12, 2011 11:34 AM
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Some subscribers to Math-Learn might be interested in "Why
Minnesotans Excel at Math and Other Mysteries of the Nation's Report
Card" in a Scientific American Blog "Budding Scientist: by Anna
Kuchment (2011)], online at <>. Kuchment wrote
[my insert at ". . . .[[insert]]. . . .":

"Every two years, the Nation's Report Card test results come out and
remind us how much better most American students should be doing in
math (and reading, but I'm going to focus just on math here). . .
.[[see NCES (2011)]. . . . The press release accompanying this year's
results, announced just a few hours ago by the Department of
Education, emphasizes that 'the nation's fourth and eight graders
continued their steady upward trend in mathematics achievement in
2011.' Students in each grade scored one point higher than in 2009.
Break out the champagne!"

Anna Kuchment includes an exchange between herself (AK) and William
Schmidt (WS) <> of Michigan State. Here's an
excerpt [My CAPS, my insert at ". . . .[[insert]]. . . . ..":

AK: It jumped out at me this year that Massachusetts and Minnesota do
strikingly well on these tests. Massachusetts students earned the
highest overall scores, and more than half were at or above
proficiency. In Minnesotta, 53 percent of fourth graders and 48
percent of 8th graders scored at or above proficiency. In 2007, both
these states were measured against foreign countries in math and
science, and they did well: Massachusetts's fourth graders scored
behind only two jurisdictions in math (Hong Kong and Singapore) and
behind only Singapore in science. Minnesota's scores were only
slightly lower. What are these states doing right?

WS: I can speak most directly to the Minnesota story, but in both
cases I really believe it's the curriculum. That's not the only
factor, of course, but Minnesota worked hard at its state standards.
They have very coherent, focused and rigorous standards. Those are
things we worked with them on. Those came into place in 2003. Their
teachers then changed what they were covering as a result. They began
to teach to more rigorous and coherent standards. It got to be a
major aspect of why they improved. Massachusetts, too.

K: How do Minnesota's and Massachusetts's standards compare with the
Common Core Standards. . . . .[[ <>]]. .
. . . . that most states have now adopted and plan to implement by

WS: They are as demanding as Minnesota's and Massachusetts's, if not
better and more so. The most crucial aspect of all right now is to
make sure these new Common Core Standards are implemented. I mean we
really have the chance to do this in these states. That's the good
news in my mind. If we deal with this correctly, we can give our kids
the best chance they've had in the last 50 or 100 years at a world
class education in mathematics.

Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
Honorary Member, Curmudgeon Lodge of Deventer, The Netherlands
President, PEdants for Definitive Academic References
which Recognize the Invention of the Internet (PEDARRII)
Links to Articles: <>
Links to SDI Labs: <>
Blog: <>
Academia: <>

Kuchment, A. 2011. "Why Minnesotans Excel at Math, and Other
Mysteries of the Nation's Report Card," Scientific American Blog
"Budding Scientist: Everything you always wanted to know about
raising science-literate kids," online at <>

NCES. 2011. National Center for Education Statistics, The Nation's
Report Card, "Findings in Brief: Reading and Mathematics 2011,"
online as a 11.2 MB pdf at <>.

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