Nation’s math achievement lags

The latest math scores are in from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (a rigorous test given to students in all 50 states), and the news isn’t good:

“The trend is flat; it’s a plateau. Scores are not going anywhere, at least nowhere important,” said Chester E. Finn Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a research organization in Washington. “That means that eight years after enactment of No Child Left Behind, the problems it set out to solve are not being solved, and now we’re five years from the deadline and we’re still far, far from the goal.”

On the most recent test, just 39 percent of 4th graders and 34 percent of 8th graders nationwide scored proficient or above. The data for California is even worse, with just 30 percent of 4th graders and 23 percent of 8th graders scoring proficient of above. I haven’t gotten the specific SFUSD data yet.

In response to the NAEP data, The New York Times web site has an interesting blog debate on what should be done to improve mathematics instruction – the prescriptions are all over the map from more testing to less, but there does seem to be agreement on the need to teach more basic computation skills in the early years — e.g., that rote memorization of addition/subtraction facts and multiplication tables has its place.

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