kitchen table math, the sequel: 1/27/13 - 2/3/13

Friday, February 1, 2013

Vicky S on the quota system

Speaking of quotas for reading and writing, Vicky writes:
My kids had the requirement of 25 books a year all through elementary school. Reading became a chore, and we all became tangled up in the white lies required to comply--not the kind of thing I wanted my kids to learn! The writing, too--ugh, excessive. My poor kids were totally turned off both reading and writing by this quota and quantity approach. Does it actually work for any kids?

school employment factoid

From the White House blog:
The local government education sector has now lost 339,400 jobs since its recent peak in November 2009.
The Employment situation in January
Sticky wages = job loss. (see: Why Wages Don't Fall in a Recession by Truman F. Bewley)

Meanwhile Catherine Rampell, at the Times, reports that "Getting the economy to 5 percent unemployment within two years — a return to the rate that prevailed when the recession began — would require job growth of closer to 284,984 a month."

Jobs added this month: 157k

BLS puts job growth in 2012 at 181,000 per month. At that rate, the country will return to full employment 10 years from now.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Why So Much Listening?

E.D. Hirsch has an interesting new post up at the Core Knowledge blog addressing why there is so much listening in the Core Knowledge reading curriculum.  For instance:

Many years ago, the researcher Thomas Sticht discovered the important fact that reading does not catch up with listening until late middle school or early high school.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

news to me

from Michael Maloney's Teach Your Children Well, published in 1998:
Various states and provinces are now requiring more practice as part of the outcomes for reforming their schools. New York State, for example, now demands that students in elementary schools practice their reading by completing twenty-five books per year. They are expected to write 1000 words of prose per month and do an assigned amount of math.
We moved here 14 years ago, here being New York state. Never heard tell of a 1000-word-a-month writing requirement. As to books, I remember C. reading 1 or at most 2 books a year in middle school. The kids were assigned The Outsiders -- reading level 5.1 -- in 7th grade. C. had read it two years earlier.

These days middle school kids are all supposed to read 25 books a year.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The news


Watching ABC World News. The big story tonight: "surging" home prices!

So is it time to sell your house!!??! Diane asks her colleague, beaming.

The colleague speaks with authority. If your house has regained its value, then yes. Time to sell.

I despair.

The increase year-over-year is 5.5%. Given that house prices dropped at least 27% from peak (was it closer to 33%?) and then flatlined for 6 years, a 5.5% gain cannot properly be called a "surge," and it doesn't put anybody back where they were. (With the possible exceptions of Denver, Dallas, Charlotte, and maybe Cleveland, if I'm reading the chart right.)

If you're Diane Sawyer and you're determined to call a 5.5% gain after 6 years a "surge," then you need to include the 6-year figure for context, along with the 27% figure. Also for context.

Why is this not happening?

Why am I hearing "surging home prices"?

Can our national news programs not hire someone who can read a graph?

Meanwhile Debbie S tells me everyone says "housing is back" except two people: me, and her realtor.

I remember Diane, a couple of years ago, joyously announcing jobs were back. That wasn't true, either.

Housing’s Rise and Fall in 20 Cities Last updated 9/25/2012
Case-Shiller: House Prices increased 5.5% year-over-year in November
December Employment Report: 155,000 Jobs, 7.8% Unemployment Rate

1 down

I have eliminated one of my desk piles! (At least my desk has piles...)

Only 5 more to go! (Distributed across one desk, one table, and one printer stand....)

Then on to the wire mesh hanging file folder bins.



I don't think they even make those bins any more. (This is one. Most of mine are bigger.)

Monday, January 28, 2013

the college tour done right

K9sasha on her son's college tour:
When we went looking at colleges, we had the option to arrange ahead of time to spend time with a professor at University of the Pacific. Once on campus, Dr. Saviz spent a couple hours with us telling us about the engineering program, showing us her lab, and answering all our questions. We left there with a good feeling about the school, and it is where my son decided to go. He's been happy with his decision.
All colleges should do this. All colleges, bar none.

buy this book!

For a year and a half now, I have been sending people who ask me whether I think the economy is "getting better" to Marcus Nunes' What does a downloaded economy look like?

Now Marcus and Benjamin Cole have written the first book on "market monetarism." I've read it, I've highlighted it, and I've blurbed it --- it's terrific!

Market Monetarism: Roadmap to Economic Prosperity

10 days between AP exams versus 1 day

In many education and work environments, economic agents must perform several mental tasks in a short period of time. As with physical fatigue, it is likely that cognitive fatigue can occur and affect performance if a series of mental tasks are scheduled close together. In this paper, we identify the impact of time between cognitive tasks on performance in a particular context: the taking of Advanced Placement (AP) exams by high-school students. We exploit the fact that AP exam dates change from year to year, so that students who take two subject exams in one year may have a different number of days between the exams than students who take the same two exams in a different year. We find strong evidence that a shorter amount of time between exams is associated with lower scores, particularly on the second exam. Our estimates suggest that students who take exams with 10 days of separation are 8% more likely to pass both exams than students who take the same two exams with only 1 day of separation.

The Impact of Time Between Cognitive Tasks on Performance: Evidence from Advanced Placement Exams
Ian Fillmore and Devin G. Pope
NBER Working Paper No. 18436
October 2012 JEL No. D03,I20

"College as Country Club"


This paper investigates whether demand-side market pressure explains colleges’ decisions to provide consumption amenities to their students. We estimate a discrete choice model of college demand using micro data from the high school classes of 1992 and 2004, matched to extensive information on all four-year colleges in the U.S. We find that most students do appear to value college consumption amenities, including spending on student activities, sports, and dormitories. While this taste for amenities is broad-based, the taste for academic quality is confined to high-achieving students.....

In line with the human capital framework developed by Becker (1964), economists typically model education as an investment wherein individuals forgo current labor market earnings and incur direct costs in return for higher future wages. While this framework does not rule out that education may also provide immediate consumption, such consumption aspects have received little attention in the literature.1 Recently, however, there has been increasing attention devoted to the recreation that accompanies investment in higher education, as illustrated by the newspaper headlines above.2 The media attention coincides with an accumulation of evidence on limited student learning (Arum and Roksa, 2011), diminished study effort (Babcock and Marks, 2011), and declining graduation rates (Bound, Lovenhiem, and Turner, 2010).

While the evidence on whether colleges today devote a greater share of resources to consumption and recreational amenities than they have in the past is inconclusive, it is clear that there is substantial heterogeneity in the emphasis that institutions place on amenities (Jacob, McCall and Stange 2013a).3 In 2007, for example, the average ratio of amenity to academic spending was 0.51 across the roughly 1,300 four-year public and private non-profit postsecondary institutions in the United States. The ratio varied tremendously, from .26 at the 10th percentile to .80 at the 90th percentile. Thus different institutions make very different choices about the optimal level of consumption amenities to offer their students. While there are several systematic patterns to this heterogeneity – for instance, public institutions spend relatively less on consumption amenities– the sources of these patterns have not been previously explored.
Brian Jacob

Brian McCall
Kevin M. Stange
Working Paper 18745
I got soooooo tired of looking at amenities.

I don't think we saw a single professor on any of the campuses we visited.

We did see some books.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

pop quiz: fill in the blank

from Tom Friedman's column today:
LORD knows there’s a lot of bad news in the world today to get you down, but there is one big thing happening that leaves me incredibly hopeful about the future, and that is the budding revolution in ____________. Nothing has more potential to lift more people out of poverty....Nothing has more potential to unlock a billion more brains to solve the world’s biggest problems. 
No peeking.