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NUMBER 147 |
THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS |
APRIL 1998 |

U.S. Math Scores Fail the Test
The study found that U.S. students did fairly well in both math and science at the 4th-grade level, but that by 8th grade, they ranked in the middle in science and below average in math. U.S. schools are apparently failing to build on those skills as students move into middle school. In an article in the March 9 A Feb. 27 editorial in the Added to the mix are the "dumbed down" curriculum standards released by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) in 1989 (and still in use). These standards call for According to education research anastudent." While teachers' salaries have also risen by nearly one-third, the stated that "it's nearly impossible to fire an incompetent teacher, and equally impossible for a mathematician or a scientist to become a teacher without first obtaining a time-consuming, irrelevant teacher's certificate from a college of education." Added to the mix are the "dumbed down" curriculum standards released by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) in 1989. These standards call for decreased attention to such things as "complex paper-and-pencil computations" (including long division) in grades K-4, "practicing and memorizing . . . " in grades 5-8, and a general dumbing down of high school algebra. According to education research analyst Mel Gabler, the NCTM "humors, conceals and tests ignorance. They ask students to problem-solve who have not first mastered necessary skills and concepts, and hide crippled math skills through the use of calculators." Gabler charges that "the NCTM rewards correct reasoning more than right answers, and favors open-ended problems with no right answers." These standards have spurred the proliferation of "fuzzy math" textbooks, including the algebra text A comparison study of California math and science textbooks between 1963 and 1988 found that, over the 25-year period, 7th-grade textbooks moved up to the 9th grade. The later textbooks were more colorful and "slick," but the content had been watered down. The state of mathematics instruction today is illustrated by the Pennsylvania parent who complained to her local school board about a math paper her child brought home. The paper explained that there were four birds in a nest and one flew away. The question was: "How do you think the bird felt that flew away from the nest?" |