Saturday, October 31, 2009

Faith in Common Standards Not Enough

To summarize, we found no association between state scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and ratings of the quality of state standards. We also drew attention to a little noticed finding from a recent federal study: weak to no association between state performance on NAEP and the stringency of performance standards for state assessments. In other words, when indexed by NAEP scores, differences among states in academic achievement do not seem to be related to differences in the quality of state content standards or the difficulty of passing the state assessment.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ted Sizer dies

The Forum Mourns the Loss of Convener and Mentor Ted Sizer

It is with great sadness that we at The Forum share with you the news of the death of our friend and mentor, Ted Sizer. Ted lost his battle with cancer on Wednesday while at home with his family.

Monday, October 19, 2009

State of Mind

Two out of five of America’s 4 million K-12 teachers appear disheartened and disappointed about their jobs, while others express a variety of reasons for contentment with teaching and their current school environments, new research by Public Agenda and Learning Point Associates shows.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

2009 NAEP

The 2009 NAEP Math scores were released today. Download the full report here.
Summary is below:
Highlights of the national results show that gains in overall average scores seen in earlier years did not continue at grade 4 but did continue at grade 8. While still higher than the scores in the six assessment years from 1990 to 2005, the overall average score for fourth-graders in 2009 was unchanged from the score in 2007. The upward trend seen in earlier assessments for eighth-graders continued with a 2-point increase from 2007 to 2009. There were no significant changes from 2007 to 2009 in the score gaps between White and Black students or between White and Hispanic students at either grade 4 or grade 8. State results for grade 4 show score increases since 2007 in 8 states and decreases in 4 states and jurisdictions. At grade 8, scores were higher in 2009 than in 2007 in 15 states and jurisdictions, and no states showed a decline.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Project MIND

Nice article in South Carolina newspaper
Once a child has a command of numbers, they can play around with them and find many ways of solving math problems, according to Su, who emphasizes teaching math concepts rather than the traditional use of teaching rules by rote memory.

“Unfortunately, that’s happening in our schools too often,” Su said. “They are just teaching rules after rules, and children are just learning rules without understanding math.”

Friday, October 9, 2009

Education Week: Standards Aren't Enough

Education Week: Standards Aren't Enough

Great article about common core and how revised curriculum and assessment must follow the standards.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Education Week: 'Common Core' Standards Earn a B From Think Tank

Education Week: 'Common Core' Standards Earn a B From Think Tank

Note that this is the same neo-conservative group that gave NJ a "D" on our math standards and California an "A". Note also that those grades are the complete opposite of the performance of NJ and CA students on the NAEP assessments.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Focus in High School Mathematics: Reasoning and Sense Making

Today, NCTM announced the publication of NCTM’s Focus in High School Mathematics: Reasoning and Sense Making. This landmark book addresses high school mathematics by focusing on students’ reasoning and sense making, which are at the core of all mathematical learning and understanding.

Go online to learn more about Focus in High School Mathematics.
A set of Q&As and the news release are also posted online. You can purchase the book in print or electronic form, view sample pages, and download the Executive Summary as well as outreach brochures for teachers, administrators, policymakers, and families.

The first in a series of companion books will be published later this month. This book, Focus in High School Mathematics: Reasoning and Sense Making in Statistics and Probability, will be followed soon by books that offer examples of ways to make reasoning and sense making central in algebra and geometry.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Jo Boaler, Marie Curie Professor, University of Sussex (England), formerly of Stanford, writes in the Fall 2009 NCSM Newsletter.

Antireformists have worked actively, effectively, and in some cases unethically to oppose any changes to math teaching, but how wide is their influence? I now believe the groups have not only organized campaigns against change, they have also created a fiction around their own importance and they do not well represent the public. Those of us who work as educators and know about children’s learning of mathematics need to question how groups who oppose change have managed to have such influence, we also need to be outraged by what they have done and continue to do.

Dr. Boaler’s sentiments above are very true especially with respect to the current issues in NJ. We have a small group of antireformists that we should be outraged by. I encourage all to read Dr. Boaler’s work and her new book, What’s Math Got to Do with It? I even mailed a copy to the Commissioner to read. I have several copies in my office. If you want one at no cost, just send me an email.

Friday, October 2, 2009

J.A. Paulos

"Mathematics is no more computation than typing is literature."

John Allen Paulos

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Economic competitiveness

As the antireformists ramp up their rhetoric about American lack of economic competitiveness, I refer to a quote by Lawrence Arthur Cremin in Popular Education and its Discontents pp. 102-103.

"American economic competitiveness with Japan and other nations is to a considerable degree a function of monetary, trade, and industrial policy, and of decisions made by the President and Congress, the Federal Reserve Board, and the Federal Departments of the Treasury, Commerce, and Labor. Therefore, to conclude that problems of international competitiveness can be solved by educational reform, especially educational reform defined solely as school reform, is not merely utopian and millennialist, it is at best a foolish and at worst a crass effort to direct attention away from those truly responsible for doing something about competitiveness and to lay the burden instead on the schools. It is a device that has been used repeatedly in the history of American education."

Education Week: Algebra 2 Test Yields Poor Results in Year II

Education Week: Algebra 2 Test Yields Poor Results in Year II

States that voluntarily took part in a demanding test of advanced algebra skills, given for a second straight year, again saw large proportions of their students struggle with that math content. At least 80 percent of students in all 13 states that participated in the exam this spring failed to meet the test’s threshold for being repared for entry-level college math. That poor showing mirrored the results from last year, when the Algebra 2 test was first piloted. Four states also took part in a separate Algebra 1 test this year, and the scores were also weak.