Showing posts from October, 2014

Common Standards

     Well, I've held out this long.  I've tried to stay away from politics in this blog.  But I've talked about grades and grading; I've talked about national testing; and I've actually talked about Common Core before.  However, this time I want to share my thoughts about Common Core and address some of the counter-arguments that (in my opinion) are not sufficient to justify a school district or a state to refuse to use them.

      I support the use of the Common Core standards for English/Language Arts and for Mathematics.  I also support the common standards for Science that are coming to our public schools.  I support these standards because they were created by experts; they were vetted by experts; and they give all 50 million U.S. students a fair and equitable education.  We all know that education throughout the U.S. is not uniform because individual state standards vary widely.  Common Core sets a level playing field for all.  Additionally, these common stan…

Improved and Improving Students Abilities in Mathematics

     Over the past generation (or two), the mathematics abilities of students in the United States has improved.

     Take a minute and let that opening sentence sink in a little bit.  We are constantly hearing about how poor our nation's students do in mathematics compared to other nations; sometimes we hear the same comments compared to previous generations in the United States.  But the truth is, we are improving when in comes to mathematics abilities of our students.

        The graph (above) depicts the average NAEP mathematics scores for 4th and 8th grade students since 1990.  NAEP stands for the National Assessment of Educational Progress.  It is sometimes referred to as the Nations Report Card.  Among many other subject areas, NAEP periodically tests the math abilities of 4th, 8th, and 12th grade students throughout the United States.  This test is given to a representative sample of students in every state.  It is a "low-stakes" test and only aggregate results a…

Caring Adults in Every School

     I always hear about the value of relationships in education.  When a teacher builds a strong relationship with her students, her students tend to have better achievement.  I've also (often) been reminded that some students do not have the positive influence of a responsible adult in their home life (or their outside-of-school-life) and YOU may be that only such person in that student's life.

     I think that teachers who take these point to heart are able to make a difference in the lives of their students.  I also think that they help to create a learning environment in which students are comfortable and more able to do their best all of the time.  And it makes sense...Wouldn't you rather have a teacher who cares about you as a person than having a teacher that barely knows your name?      I am a mathematics supervisor.  So often I see students who have always struggled in math class and they begin each school year thinking that they won't do well.  Some teachers…

Lower Dropout Rates

     According to a recent article from the Pew Research Center (see article here), the U.S. high school dropout rate dropped to 7% last year.  It has been going down since 2000 when the national dropout rate was 12%.  Educators know that earning a high school diploma may not be a ticket to live-long success.  But without one, you are pretty much guaranteed to experience many struggles in your life--not the least of which would be trying to build a middle-class life for you and your family.

     Hispanic and Black dropout rates have significantly declined since 1993.  Hispanic student (today) comprise 25% of our nation's public school students.  In 1993 their dropout rate was 33%.  Today it is down to 14%--and it has been steadily declining since 1998 despite a 50% rise in the population of young Hispanics in our country.  The dropout rate for Blacks has declined from 16% in 1993 to 8% today.  Black youth represent 16% of our public school students.

     Public schools do everythi…