Monday, April 24, 2017

Add, Subtract, and more ... a plan for competence. [unlikely]

I am continually amazed at the relatively poor performance of USA math students relative to the East Asian countries of Korea, Japan, Singapore, etc. While legislators discuss how to change various aspects of college to deal with apparent inadequacies of incoming students a couple of things are clear:
(1) There is little if any real interest in analyzing Singapore's instructional approach.
TIMSS 2015 -- grade 8 USA 518 Singapore 621 gap 103 pts.
(2) Basing grade level promotion on skill acquired is not likely to happen. [Florida's requirement to read well to enter grade 4 is a remarkable exception.] It is well past time that the National Council of the Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) figured out that 60 years of trying to create better results their way has been remarkably inefficient. Today NCTM still pushes that Understanding should precede Procedural Fluency.... yet the high performing nations see conceptual understanding arising from Procedural Fluency. In short knowing how to accurately add and subtract is a skill that will make it easier to understand what addition is all about. It is possible to teach the four historic algorithms of arithmetic before "understanding" them. This is done in East Asia all the time. While East Asia leaves us in their mathematical dust the NCTM plods along with a failed ideology. 8th grade TIMSS math results with percent of students able to achieve benchmarks country - advanced -- high --- intermediate -- low Korea -------43% -- 75% -- 93% -- 99% Singapore- 54% -- 81% -- 94% -- 99% Japan ----- 34% -- 67% -- 89% -- 98% USA -------- 10% -- 37% -- 70% -- 91%
Instead of figuring out how to cut corners, we should learn from others how to improve instruction. Tell me about the Common Core, the big emphasis on (STEM) Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math careers and talk about what a great job we are going to do, after you explain the difference between Advanced 54% and 10%.

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