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Not Doing The Math: Test Scores Hit An All-Time Low
Not Doing The Math: Test Scores Hit An All-Time Low

AIR DATE: May 1, 2013


Leslie Arnold, Assistant Superintendent, Clark County School District

Linda Gojak, President, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

BY MARIE ANDRUSEWICZ -- Two-thirds of Clark County sophomores failed their math proficiency exam, an echo of what happened to reading scores in 2011 when the state raised those standards.

“We kind of had an expectation that we would see this drop, because we did have the raising of the passing score for the first time,” says Leslie Arnold, Assistant Superintendent, Clark County School District. “From 2011 the cut score was 242 to pass the math portion. This year it was raised to 300.”

Arnold says one of the reasons students may have poor performance is because students’ coursework isn’t as advanced as the concepts tested. Another reason is the schools aren’t teaching advanced math soon enough – she says student should learn advanced math beginning in the middle school grades.  

But Linda Gojak, President of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics says middle school is too late.

“I think we need to start to think about when kids enter 1st and 2nd grade, what kind of foundation we are laying for their understanding of the mathematical context and concepts, so that as they approach middle school they have the foundation that’s laid, they are prepared to take on more abstract concepts that eventually lead to what happens in the high school,” says Gojak.



    comments powered by Disqus
    National math test scores continue to be disappointing. This poor trend persists in spite of new texts, standardized tests with attached implied threats, or laptops in the class. At some point, maybe we should admit that math, as it is taught currently and in the recent past, seems irrelevant to a large percentage of grade school kids. Why blame a sixth grade student or teacher trapped by meaningless lessons? Teachers are frustrated. Students check out. The missing element is reality. Instead of insisting that students learn another sixteen formulae, we need to involve them in tangible life projects. And the task must be interesting. If we really want kids to learn math and to have the lessons be valuable, we need to change the mode of teaching. Our kids can master the math that most adults need. We can't continue to have class rooms full of math drudges. Instead, we need to change our teaching tactics with real life projects. Alan Cook
    Alan CookMay 8, 2013 10:52:38 AM
    I don't know what "advanced concepts" are being suggested for elementary school, but I have a real problem with calculators being used instead of brains in elementary school. My high school students can't do fractions if their calculator doesn't have a fraction button. They have no idea what it means to divide by a fraction. They can't factor polynomials because they don't know how to find factors of numbers. Our "education experts" are setting us up for failure by not requiring the basics to be memorized in elementary school. American high school students have absolutely no "number sense" thanks to calculators.
    RoccoMay 6, 2013 06:59:21 AM
    There are ways (using mathematics, coincidentally) to compare one set of test data to another. We don't need to take pie-in-the-sky guesses as to whether the tests are even measuring the same thing. Just a comparison from kids who are taking the test for the 2nd to 7th time to what happened this year with changes. Not perfect as a scientific measure because of time and continued teaching but much more informative than anything said here! And...I've got to reassert the incentive problem. Many of our students take these test with little care what the results are until they are much closer to graduation. Two years is a long time when you are 16.
    Ed CarrollMay 5, 2013 19:37:33 PM
    What this article didn't explain is what the advanced concepts are. I do believe that a subject like algebra can be introduced at a very young age. I'm not talking about solving polynominals or quadric equations. I'm talking about algebraic concepts like how numbers work together. In Singapore math, students are taught draw models to solve simple problems from the very beginning of their education. Could this be why they are so far ahead of the US in math conceptual understanding? Afterall the US is the only country in the world that teaches Algebra and Geometry as separate subjects. Something to think about folks.
    SuzannMay 2, 2013 13:58:36 PM
    Teaching Algebra and Geometry separately isn't a problem. We've done that for decades, and it was good enough to put men on the moon when computers were extremely archaic compared to today.
    RoccoMay 6, 2013 06:55:30 AM
    Looks like the people doing the comments are more in tune with what going on with the kids than the people on radio program.
    SuzanMay 2, 2013 13:32:51 PM
    It would be nice if the article listed the advanced math concepts that a first grader should know.
    Celelste HingstMay 2, 2013 12:43:25 PM
    Doesn't anyone believe in Piaget's observations and research about childhood development anymore? Most kids develop physically, emotionally and cognitively at predictable, chronological ages. WE continually demand that our children meet standards and demands that are beyond their cognitive development. We need to stop looking at this from our,(adults), point of view.
    Guy LaBrancheMay 2, 2013 12:15:12 PM
    I absolutely agree! When did we forget about brain development and how abstract thinking doesn't kick in until age 11 or 12? Why do we keep ignoring brain development and matuirity in children?
    S RawsonMay 6, 2013 09:18:49 AM
    The common Core should not have been implemented throughout all grades at once. If it was implemented in the first grade and followed those students up the grade levels, we would not have lost any students to this collosal drop in grades. 10% of the students are going to be left back, and what about the rest? they are going to be socially promoted, which means not having the skills they should have to move onto the the next grade. Once again the ball was dropped in the US when it comes to education.
    Vincent PanosMay 2, 2013 11:07:05 AM
    Common Core was gradually implemented in New Jersey. K-2 last September, then 3-5 this and now next September is 6-8.
    TaraMay 2, 2013 17:28:18 PM
    By the end of third grade, the addition, and thus subtraction of one digit numbers should be automatic. As well, the multiplication, and thus division facts should also be automatic through the 12s. This will enable students to progress and they will understand the commutative property as well as the reciprocal properties of numbers. This is what has been lost. Some elementary schools let students use calculators. The best calculator they have is their brain. If it is not trained, then it is nearly useless.
    RobertMay 2, 2013 09:42:02 AM
    Excellent statement! How are we supposed to teach our students to use higher level thinking when they are not expected to do lower level thinking like, "What is 3 times 2?" without a calculator. Giving a student a calculator is not a productive use of technology in the classroom. It is keeping students from using their brain.
    JanMay 2, 2013 13:18:52 PM
    I'd like to take issue with today's teaser this AM that stated that 2/3 of the 10th graders CAN'T pass the test. The kids know they have 8 or so tries. Many think they've got the skills and don't quite yet. With 2.5 years of school left to go not many are giving their best effort. The schools are put in a position to think up artificial incentives because there seem to be few intrinsic or external ones. The "day off" "incentive" for those who pass has been removed. AND finally no one fails reading because they can't do math but the reverse is NOT true. Much in the math exam is reading!
    Ed CarrollMay 1, 2013 09:14:41 AM
    billMay 2, 2013 14:59:05 PM
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