Math education

California study finds harm for some in repeating algebra, questions whether it benefits anyone

One of the most often repeated courses in U.S. high schools is algebra. Teachers and school leaders understandably worry whether a student who can’t solve basic equations should move on in math, to geometry or advanced algebra. So the student takes algebra again. Sometimes, even students with B’s in algebra are asked to repeat it […]


Should students discover their own math lessons?

Student-centered instruction is difficult jargon for lay people like myself to get their heads around, especially for a subject like mathematics. The idea, as I understand it, is to present students with questions, puzzles and scenarios and let them try to figure out the procedures for solving them, by themselves. A traditional teacher might simply explain, […]


US educators lead the world in overestimating student poverty, which may affect educational mobility

Do educators’ perceptions of how disadvantaged their students are matter? Put another way, when teachers think their students are underprivileged, do they have lower expectations for them, and do their students achieve less at school? In a July 22, 2014, article “Poverty and the perception of poverty – how both matter for schooling outcomes,” Andreas […]


Right and wrong methods for teaching first graders who struggle with math

To help young kids who struggle with math, well-intentioned teachers often turn to non-traditional teaching methods. They use music and movement to involve the whole body.  They use hands-on materials such as popsicle sticks to help the students understand tens and hundreds. Or they encourage students to come up with different strategies for solving 7 + […]


Determining “cut scores” as New York students take the first Common Core high school exams

New York State education policy makers had a difficult task when they sat down to grade the first high school Regents exams linked to the Common Core standards, in algebra and English, last month. They needed to establish a high bar for meeting the new education standards, yet at the same time protect current students, who haven’t had much […]


Connecticut and Arkansas show unusual gains on test of high school seniors; Massachusetts shows sharp decline

I previously wrote about the woeful stagnation among U.S. high school seniors on a national reading and math test whose 2013 results were released May 7, 2014. But two bright spots are in Arkansas and Connecticut. Both state’s high school seniors showed a notably large 4 point increase on their math test and even larger […]


US DOE evaluation of Gates-funded Early College High Schools shows that low-income males more likely to graduate from high school and enroll in college afterward

Back in 2013 a study, “Early College, Early Success: Early College High School Initiative Impact Study,” showed that low-income, minority students were showing remarkable results in a new kind of high school where students are marched through the first two years of college during their high school years. In the 10 schools studied, 86% of the […]


US students rank better internationally on new problem solving test than they do on conventional math and reading exams

Here’s a modest test result to bolster the argument of those who say the American educational system isn’t so terrible. On a new creative problem-solving test taken by students in 44 countries and regions, U.S. 15-year-olds scored above the international average and rank at number 18 in the world. That’s much better than the below-average […]


Great English teachers improve students’ math scores

Better English teachers not only boost a student’s reading and writing performance in the short term, but they also raise their students math and English achievement in future years. That’s according to a working paper, “Learning that Lasts: Unpacking Variation in Teachers’ Effects on Students’ Long-Term Knowledge,” by a team of Stanford University and University of […]


PISA math score debate among education experts centers on poverty and teaching

I’ve been enjoying the posts on how to interpret the PISA math scores. Everyone agrees that average math performance among American 15 year olds is disappointing with the US ranking 36th among 65 nations and subregions. Michael Petrilli wrote a piece, PISA and Occam’s Razor, arguing that poverty might not the reason the US fares so […]