The scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress are out, and the news is dismal. The NAEP test is generally more challenging than annual state-wide exams like the Connecticut Mastery Test. Despite good intentions and high expectations, this assessment indicates that the nation’s children are suffering through another educational fad. Fourth graders showed no improvement in math, and the slight improvement in the grade eight scores is insignificant. According to a report in The Christian Science Monitor, “The lack of progress, education advocates also say, is striking enough that the country should be asking hard questions about its math education, particularly for younger students. . . . This may mean we’ve gotten all of the octane we can out of our current math teaching force,” says Amy Wilkins, a vice president at the Education Trust, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing achievement gaps. “What can we do to get more really good math teachers not only into the profession, but into high-poverty and high-minority schools?” According to Matt Driscoll, who was the head of the education department in Massachusetts, “If we are to succeed, we must all work together to provide comprehensive, challenging math courses for future educators.”
So once again, it’s time to ask why many of the nation’s schools have chosen to experiment with an unproven math curriculum: the reform math movement? Parents know this constructivist program as Every Day Math or Connected Math. Whatever name educators choose, the evidence indicates that it’s NOT working!
The alleged goal of this system is to help students focus on theory and understand math concepts in lieu of rote memorization. Yet no evidence exists that it works! In fact, according to The Oregonian a major criticism is that “It slows down advanced students and doesn’t prepare them for higher forms of math.” Results of recent SAT’s back up this assertion. Recent scores showed no improvement in math scores. The ACT exam, the college entrance exam that is more curriculum-based than the SAT indicated, “Only 42% of high school graduates are ready for college-level math.”
If, indeed, the “reform” movement strives to help students develop their own meaning of math, then it has failed. The recent scores reflect a woeful standing. Parents should demand accountability. Poor math skills will haunt them for their entire lives unless changes occur immediately.