kitchen table math, the sequel: trouble in Norway, part 1

Saturday, March 3, 2007

trouble in Norway, part 1

In spite of being sick as a dog, I have managed to perform a prize piece of action research today.

I did the same thing I always do:

  • I Googled stuff on the internet
  • I read the stuff I found
  • I used Apple's Grab thingie to pull charts out of a pdf file

etc.

action research!


L97

In 1997 Norway reformed its curriculum.

The changes were sweeping:

  • an extra year of schooling (compulsory education would now begin at age 6 instead of age 7)
  • "Theme-based cross-subject projects should dominate the learning process (at least 60% of lecture time) " [our term for "theme-based cross-subject projects" would be "interdisciplinary," which lies at the heart of the middle school model]
  • "Play should be given a central role in school, both as «free play» and as a dominant learning method for children aged 6-10"
  • all constructivism all the time: "The traditional lecture auditory model of a classroom structure is definitively unsuitable in relation to the reform."

Results?

Combined with the generally weak Norwegian results from 1995 [before L97 reforms were put in place], a further decrease in 37 points is alarming. The TIMSS study in 1995 was carried out on two following grades, and the average advance during one grade was approximately 40 points. In other words, today’s pupils are placed nearly an entire school year behind the level in 1995.

[snip]

Clearly, many countries score better in 2003 than they did in 1995 (figure 1.4). [including the U.S.!] ... Concerning Norway the decline seems almost catastrophic, especially in connection with the already weak Norwegian results in 1995.... In 2003 4th graders with the same age were tested, who have attended school one year more than the pupils tested in 1995. Thus the significant decrease is dramatic and unfortunate. To give an impression of how much a decline of 25 points actually represents, we point to the fact that in the 4th grade in the 1995 TIMSS report, one year’s schooling equalled on average about 60 points in improvement on the same scale. Put simply, our pupils in 2003 have attended school one more year, but still lie approximately half a year behind in their academic development compared to the situation 8 years earlier.

Norwegian reports from TIMSS and PISA 2003 (pdf file)

An extra year in school and the kids are half a year behind their counterparts in 1995.

This is why I get growly whenever someone suggests lengthening the school day and/or school year.

If they do that I'll have even less time to teach the real stuff at home.























Play as a dominant learning method ....

hoo boy

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

One interesting item leaped out at me from the 1995->2003 TIMSS change graph: The United States was in 2nd place for improvement! Hey, this is good news [not that I think we don't have a long way to go, but progress is progress].

-Mark R.

Catherine Johnson said...

I know!

I saw the same thing!

Instructivist said...

"One interesting item leaped out at me from the 1995->2003 TIMSS change graph: The United States was in 2nd place for improvement! Hey, this is good news [not that I think we don't have a long way to go, but progress is progress]."

A joke during the Cold War was the so-called Tirana Index. Dissention had doubled from one vote to two.

Catherine Johnson said...

haha

Barry Garelick said...

The United States was in 2nd place for improvement! Hey, this is good news [not that I think we don't have a long way to go, but progress is progress].

Obviously the result of the constructivist math program. Kudos to NSF, NCTM and anyone else who wants to take credit for Sylvan, Kumon, tutors and parents working two jobs: their day job, and teaching their children at night.

Catherine Johnson said...

Obviously the result of the constructivist math program. Kudos to NSF, NCTM and anyone else who wants to take credit for Sylvan, Kumon, tutors and parents working two jobs: their day job, and teaching their children at night.

I got another huge batch of workbooks in the mail yesterday.

I think I have $500-worth of freaking workbooks sitting around the floor everywhere.

This week I have to buy more bookshelves.

Plus tonight I dug out my Warriner's Grammar & Comp books, after perusing C's ITBS scores once more.

His ITBS sheet is like a little public schools topological doohickey. (I've had a couple of glasses of life-extending red wine tonight; can you tell?)

He's up at the top end of the scale on the kind of conceptual stuff you get incidentally, living with educated parents.

He's dead-center average on skills.

Pronoun usage?

Average.

Decimals?

Average.

OOPS!

WRONG!

Pronoun usage: below average.

We've got a kid who's in the 95th percentile for FREAKING READING COMPREHENSION and he's below average on pronoun usage.

Catherine Johnson said...

How hard can it be to teach pronoun usage to a kid who reads so well he's measuring at a 12.6 level in the middle of 7th grade?

It's not hard.

It's easy.

School simply hasn't bothered to do it.

Hence: Warriner's.

PaulaV said...

How hard can it be to teach pronoun usage to a kid who reads so well he's measuring at a 12.6 level in the middle of 7th grade?

How hard can it be to teach a kid about adjectives? My third grader brought home a paper Thursday that told him that dry and frightened were not adjectives. The teacher told him he should have looked them up in the dictionary. Well, um, perhaps she should have.

--PaulaV

SusanS said...

Catherine,

What new workbooks? Let us know if there are any good ones.

I also pulled out the giant Hake books (6th grade) for my LD son. I'm glad I'll finally get to really use them.

Instructivist said...

"...he's measuring at a 12.6 level..."

What are you using for measurement?

SusanS said...

What are you using for measurement?

Our school used the AIR tests (I have no idea what that stands for) and my son posted scores like that at times. I'm a little doubtful of the accuracy, but I think they have to do with the book they're reading at the time and how well they test on it. I think. One time he got 13.something. He's an excellent reader, but I'm quite sure he could not handle college reading material. The reality was that he was most comfortable and happy reading around 2-3 years above his level.

But, of course, if you actually look at what "level" is then you wonder why eveyone isn't above level.

I take those things with a grain of salt (unless he is on or below level) mostly because good children's literature is all over the map and I'd like him to read as many good ones as possible.

C.S. Lewis (Narnia) is put at around 4.9 or 5 something. I would still love it if he just picked it up and read it now.

Catherine Johnson said...

I take the 12.6 reading level seriously only in that NAEP shows that our 12th graders aren't reading all that well. I think it's possible Christopher may read as well as the average 12th grader who takes the ITBS.

Here it is:

The most recent test results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, commonly known as the national report card, finds that American 12th graders are actually performing worse in reading than 12th graders did in 1992, when a comparable exam was given. In addition, 12th-grade performance in reading has been distressingly flat since 2002, even though the states were supposed to be improving the quality of teaching to comply with the No Child Left Behind education act.

The new scores, based on tests given in 2005, show that only about 35 percent of 12th graders are proficient in reading. Simply put, this means that a majority of the country’s 12th graders have trouble understanding what they read fully enough to make inferences, draw conclusions and see connections between what they read and their own experiences. The math scores were even worse, with only 23 percent of 12th graders performing at or above the proficient level.

Catherine Johnson said...

He doesn't have the life experience or intellectual maturity to read the way a good 12th grade reader would.

However, he obviously has the basic smarts to learn how to use pronouns.

When you look at his ITBS report, it's almost like looking at a set of LDs being created.

He has the kind of "scatter" you see in autistic kids (or in LD kids? Do LD kids have scatter??)

And all of his low categories are basic skills.

There's just no excuse for it.

Catherine Johnson said...

oh!

workbooks

Instructivist gave me the best advice - those Spectrum books are excellent.

And the Steck Vaughn books are terrific.

For measurement I went whole hog and bought the enter "Key Curriculum" series:

Key to Measurement (all the books plus the answer key).

Lord only knows when I'll use all these things, but I am DETERMINED Christopher is going to have basic skills.