kitchen table math, the sequel: fun with numbers

Monday, February 19, 2007

fun with numbers

Janese Heavin writes in the Columbia Tribune:

Coutts said higher scores on assessment tests indicate the Investigations program works. Within two years of implementing the curriculum, Benton Elementary saw a 23 percent increase in the number of fourth-graders scoring proficient or above on the math portion of the Missouri Assessment Program, according to TERC’s 2004 assessment of its curriculum. Since all Columbia elementary classes began using the program in 2003, the number of fourth-graders scoring proficient or above has increased by 5.1 percent.
A little research shows us something different.

From 2002 to 2003 when Columbia school district implemented TERC, the number of students scoring proficient and advanced dropped by 4.9%

Since 2002, the number of 4th graders scoring advanced has decreased by 2.7%.

8th graders, the last group to go through Elementary school without being influenced by TERC are have approximately 9 percentage points more advanced math students than the 7th graders below them.

So what have I proven? Absolutely nothing, I just cherry picked numbers to contradict the supposed miraculous progress made by implementation of TERC.

Here is what we don't know.

How many teachers decided to supplement TERC after implementation?

How many more parents enrolled their students in tutoring programs after implementation of TERC?

How will Investigations affect students when they need mastery of basic math facts to survive in Algebra?

Who killed JFK?

All these questions are unknown, but who cares. As long as I have a lot of numbers and statistics to cherry pick choose from, I am sure that I can prove whatever I want. It's called math-iness.

P.S. Another School District bites the dust.


Anonymous said...

Another school district bites the dust

That is some article. So many quotes stand out, but the overall patronizing tone in regard to the parents is amazing.

It's the processes of using mathematics that are being valued in the workplace today, not just the ability to do calculations," Morris said. "And that's what Investigations is teaching them."

I'd be all for letting them do what they want if they could just get that "ability to do calculations." They act as though that's a given in all classrooms.

Anonymous said...

Poor Prince William County. The two KUMON center owners in that county are probably celebrating. Everyday Mathematics was adopted in the neighboring county (Stafford) a couple of years ago, we have a very successful Huntington franchise here - but no KUMON centers.

If I wasn't busy homeschooling - I'd open a KUMON center asap.


Catherine Johnson said...

death by data

Catherine Johnson said...

The ability to do calculations, as we've just seen thanks to giving our kid the ITBS OURSELVES, is neither natural nor inevitable.

I actually now have a kid who scores very well on "conceptual" math (not using the term ironically - "conceptual" means word problems in the ITBS) but very poorly, comparatively speaking, on computation. (88th percentile nationally on math; 75th percentile nationally on computation)

Math is so difficult to understand that even I chronically forget how hard it is just to do math.

My school district doesn't care one way or the other.

"If students need distributed practice parents can find free worksheets online."