Monday, June 07, 2010

Sometimes a Low Math Score is Just a Low Math Score

Julia Steiny:

But Hope’s sad 4-percent proficiency in math is emblematic of what’s still deeply problematic there and at most Providence schools.

Then what are Hope Arts NECAP scores (2008-2009 teaching year) in reading, 76%, and writing, 51%, both over the state average for low income students, emblematic of? Especially if you agree with Dan Willingham and friends that reading tests are really measures of broader knowledge. You can argue that poor literacy skills drive down math scores, but that's not the case here.

These math scores are indicative of no more or less than what they profess to directly measure: math achievement. The math scores are horrible, at least on their face, in every high poverty school in the city and state. They aren't helped in Providence by the fact that nearly every middle school student with serious aptitude in math is sent to Classical, not surprisingly the source of 73% of the students passing the math NECAP in the city. Outside Classical, the numbers are depressingly consistent despite wide variations in size, governance, curriculum and pedagogy.

Why am I not hearing more substantive analysis of what's wrong with math? Why are we rolling back successful whole school reforms to address one subject? That might be the right move, but it should be argued on those terms.

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