kitchen table math, the sequel: Saxon Math vs TERC

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saxon Math vs TERC

Student math achievement was significantly higher in schools assigned to Math Expressions and Saxon, than in schools assigned to Investigations and SFAW. Average HLM-adjusted spring math achievement of Math Expressions and Saxon students was 0.30 standard deviations higher than Investigations students, and 0.24 standard deviations higher than SFAW students. For a student at the 50th percentile in math achievement, these effects mean that the student’s percentile rank would be 9 to 12 points higher if the school used Math Expressions or Saxon, instead of Investigations or SFAW.

Achievement Effects of Four Early Elementary School Math Curricula: Findings from First Graders in 39 Schools

Here's the Education Week article, which is worth weighing in on.


Paul B said...

I read the executive summary and a few things jumped out at me.

First,this experiment only included first grade. Since the experiment produced a statistically significant difference in the programs, it is staggering to think how this compounds year to year.

Second, I was a bit surprised that the study 'inserted' programs into schools with existing programs. There are hundreds of schools using these programs already so I was surprised that they had to go out and create an experiment when (apparently) the whole damn public education system is a giant experiment anyway.

Third, the programs that performed poorly were given a get out of jail free card by virtue of the 'insertion' process. Teachers were provided only a few days of training. In my district (Investigations) teachers are trained for days in the teens. Publishers will be able to claim that the teachers were inadequately trained.

Fourth, NCLB is about 8 years old isn't it? Why would the DOE wait to do this study now? This is like the NTSB saying, "See those four planes over there? Hop on and fly cross country. We're going to test them for flight worthiness after you land."

I'm reminded of a story a friend told me about flying to an out of the way destination on a local airline in Puerto Rico. While sitting on the tarmac, waiting for the pilot to board, he noticed the pilot approaching the rickety, dirty plane. The pilot got to the stairs ok but then he stopped to say the Rosary.

This is definitely something you don't want to see out the window of a junk plane while waiting for take off.

Jo Anne C said...

"NCLB is about 8 years old isn't it? Why would the DOE wait to do this study now?"

Perhaps the study was initiated through the National Math Panel effort.

Jo Anne C said...

"The pilot got to the stairs ok but then he stopped to say the Rosary."

You have reminded me of a flight I took from a visit to ruins in Mexico. The tour guide told us not to worry (as the fellow outside the window was hitting the engine and prop with a pipe wrench) about the black smoke that was belching forth, that the plane was just fine.

Thankfully we arrived safely.