Friday, April 14, 2017

A Perfect Storm of Data: We Must Take Action -- by NCTM President Matt Larson

January 17, 2017

A Perfect Storm of Data: We Must Take Action -- by NCTM President Matt Larson

Mr. Larson wrote the following:
" I am empathetic to these perspectives: the assessments are imperfect and do not capture all that is important with respect to mathematics teaching and learning. Despite these limitations, there is still much we can learn from a combined analysis of the results of the 2015 fourth- and eighth-grade and the 12th-grade National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores, the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), and the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

These results paint a mixed picture of U.S. students’ mathematics achievement. At the elementary and middle levels, the evidence suggests the U.S. is making progress in mathematics teaching and learning. "


Not quite so in grade 8 math :  2015 TIMSS for grade 8 shows a very large point decline for the cohort of 2011 grade 4 to 2015 grade 8.  SEE THIS 
Notice the decline of 23 points, that certainly does not indicate progress for that cohort.


 "Because opportunity to learn is a strong predictor of what students actually learn, the most recent fourth- and eighth-grade TIMSS and NAEP results are to be expected—scores declined in areas that received less instructional emphasis. Mathematics achievement at the elementary and middle levels in the United States has been trending positive over the long term—even in an international context. Not enough, not fast enough, and certainly not for each and every student, but positive nonetheless. In a country as large, decentralized, and complex as the United States, incremental but steady improvement should be viewed positively."


"High school is another story. High school mathematics scores as measured by NAEP have remained flat for more than a decade, and have been sliding relative to our international peers as measured by TIMSS Advanced and PISA."


2015 Grade 12 NAEP Math results are statistically significantly lower than in 2013.

The big change was in 2013 35% of students were below basic and in 2015 38% of students were below basic.  -- That is a significant variation in the performance of students at the lowest level.

Which raises questions about the NCTM stated "supposed" emphasis on Equity.

Percent of Students at or above proficient by ethnicity (2015):


32% White

12% Hispanic

10% American Indian/ Alaska Native {AIAN}

7% Black
2015 Math TIMSS Advanced grade 12  In 2015 USA results unchanged since 1995.

Notice that the highest performing countries in East Asia do not take TIMSS advanced testing, apparently they fail to see the point.  Given the performance of the top 5 in 8th grade TIMSS and the size of the score difference above the rest, perhaps TIMSS advanced testing is not advanced enough for these countries to learn much from the results.


THE BOTTOM LINE -  I believe the NCTM has been responsible for some changes that have been damaging to student learning (as revealed by data).  I am very skeptical of the NCTM's ability to correct this downward trend.

While I agree with the NCTM stated position about the need for increased:
#1 Procedural Fluency
#2 Problem Solving
#3 Conceptual Understanding

the NCTM has failed to bring about positive changes to instructional materials and practices to bring 8th & 12th grade improvement  about.  Quite the contrary NCTM and NSF actions have in many cases produced negative changes.

The NCTM seems incapable of changing what needs changing. The position that 8th grade results are improving to me seems incomprehensible.

USA is at 518 and ranks 9th in 2015
with Singapore at 621
(USA 103 points behind Singapore)
(This table shows score difference from 500)
(Singapore 500 + 121 = 621 at grade 8 in 2015)

grade 4grade 8change
1. Singapore10612115
2. Korea1051061
3. Taipei91998
4. Hong Kong10294-8
5. Japan85861
Russian Fed4238-4
9. USA4118-23

Please notice the large gap between Japan the lowest of the Top 5 and the rest.  2011 grade 4 Japan - USA = 44 pts.   2015 grade 8 Japan - USA = 68 points.   This is hardly incremental improvement for USA 8th graders.

NCTM is in Spin Mode.  "We must take Action" -  

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