Weekly Math Updates

November 16, 2007


  • State math initiative fails after teaching teachers pedagogy instead of content
  • "It’s Important… But Not for Me"

State math initiative fails after indoctrinating teachers in pedagogy instead of content

I just couldn't wait till next week to pass this on. I'm sure you're sitting down reading this email, and it's a good thing because this is going to shock you. The state DOE started pumping money into a grade 4-6 initiative to help teachers raise math scores. Not surprisingly, districts are using the money to focus on pedagogy instead of math content knowledge. Not surprisingly again, scores went down.

Nicole Paulson gave this report to the education sub-committee on Wednesday. Click here to view the pdf file. Go to page 4 and view the grid. Then when you've digested it a bit, you can read down and see that Duchesne district was one of the few districts that had improvements and they are currently implementing Saxon math in their district. Gotta love that. Many of the other districts are pushing to get their teachers elementary math endorsements which are basically "how to teach" courses in discovery learning techniques. What's needed is real math content knowledge for teachers so they understand better what they need to teach.

"It’s Important… But Not for Me"


I received an email regarding this interesting study and thought I'd pass it on. These paragraphs from the page give you an idea of what it's about. If you're interested, read the article. It's pretty interesting. The bottom line is kids and parents today aren't motivated by how far behind we are in the world, but they can be motiviated by the "you won't get a job" argument.

"There is growing consensus among the nation’s business, government and higher education leaders that unless schools do more to train and nurture a whole new generation of young Americans with strong skills in math, science and technology, U.S. leadership in the world economy is at risk. A new research report from the opinion research and citizen engagement organization Public Agenda concludes that Kansas and Missouri parents and students didn’t get the memo.


Some good news from the research: kids do not buy into the stereotypes that MST achievement depends on natural ability or that students who do well in these subjects are less popular or socially awkward. Seventy percent of students disagree with the statement that “students who are strong in math and science tend to be less popular.” An even larger majority (85 percent) hold that math and science are subjects that “kids can learn in school and develop with experience” rather than being “something kids are mostly born with.” So, if kids believe they could do it, what would convince them to do it?

Three-quarters of students (76 percent) say that math and science are irrelevant to their lives. But when such courses are required for college, it seems to make the difference. In the survey, parents and students both said they would be most motivated by arguments that relate to future opportunities for young people in higher education or in the job market. Sixty-three percent of students say advanced math is crucial for success in college and work. Additionally, the focus group portion of the research indicated very low levels of understanding among students of just what sorts of careers involved knowledge of math, science and technology. Together this suggests that families would likely put more emphasis on advanced MST education in high school if universities and trade schools mandated MST prerequisites for a greater number of incoming students whose intended majors necessitate such knowledge."


Oak Norton

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