kitchen table math, the sequel: the nativity gap

Thursday, June 24, 2010

the nativity gap

from Bostonian:
Where is the evidence, adjusting for race, that American math curricula are worse than those used in Asia?

William Schmidt, director of the U.S. national Research Center for the Third International Mathematics and Science Study, is the person to read on this subject:

The Role of Curriculum
A Coherent Curriculum: The Case of Mathematics (pdf file)

and see:
The Sequence of Mathematics Topics in Top-Achieving Countries (pdf file)

nativity gap

This Stiefel, Schwartz, and Conger study, while not an analysis of curriculum, supports Schmidt's argument:

Do Immigrants Differ from Migrants? Disentangling the Impact of Mobility on High School Completion and Performance
Leanna Stiefel, Amy Ellen Schwartz, and Dylan Conger

from the New York Sun's story:
Foreign-born newcomers to New York City's public schools are performing better than native-born newcomers, a New York University study shows.

The working paper by NYU education researchers titled "Do Immigrants Differ From Migrants?" has also deflated any notions that immigrant students tend to do worse in American schools the older they are when they arrive. On the contrary, the findings demonstrated that immigrant students actually do better if they begin their American education in high school rather than in elementary or middle school.


Ms. Schwartz, speaking at an NYU symposium last week, said she and her colleagues had hypothesized that immigrant students "who come late are the ones who are really disadvantaged," guessing that their lack of language skills, the stress of moving to a new country, and institutional differences between the schools they came from and the New York schools might hurt their graduation rate and performance on tests.

Instead, they found that the foreign born "just do remarkably better," Ms. Schwartz said.

Foreign-Born Students New to N.Y. Outshine Native Born
by Sarah Garland
New York Sun
February 11, 2008 Edition

Here is Andrew Wolf's take:
Immigrant children outperform some native-born children in New York schools, my colleague Sarah Garland reported the other day. Indeed, it seems the longer newly-arrived children attend our schools, the worse they do. These conclusions come from a new study, "Do Immigrants Differ From Migrants?"

"The foreign born are whizzing by the native born at every level," one of the researchers, Amy Ellen Schwartz, said.


If one drives past the Bronx High School of Science any given school day morning, one will encounter a seemingly endless caravan of yellow school buses. Most of these buses come from Queens, the borough known for its immigrant population. Sixty percent of those recently offered a spot at Bronx Science as a result of their test scores come from Queens, as are 40% of the new freshmen at Stuyvesant. It [sic] it turns out that a good number of these commuter students are recent immigrants, why do the city's specialized high schools seem to have such a disproportionate number of newly arrived students?

Whizzing By
March 3, 2008
I miss the Sun.


Erin Johnson said...

The 2007 TIMSS does break out the US results by race. In 4th grade the US Asian subgroup performs only slightly less than the top Asian countries but by 8th grade the US Asian subgroup performs significantly lower.

4th grade US Asians: 582
4th grade Singapore: 593

8th grade US Asians: 549
8th grade Singapore: 599

Note that the math scores of Singapore stay the same from 4th to 8th grade, but the US Asian subpopulation (as well as the entire student population) declines.

If math performance was purely an IQ phenom, we would expect that those 4th and 8th grade levels would be comparable, but this is not the case.

Also, there is evidence from Whitehurst that math curricula does matter. So it is not inconceivable that differences between math in Asia vs the US might account for performance differences.

Anecdotally, having used Singapore math it is easy for me to see why Asian math programs would be significantly better at enabling kids to learn math.

Catherine Johnson said...

Erin - thank you!

Very interesting.