Friday, December 04, 2009


Hmmm. This ed researcher from Washington State has done a good job of showing how educational administrators use numbers to conceal the sharp erosion in math knowledge at all levels of students in her state.

Go Big Ed will have to find some spare time to run these same numbers for us. Gulp. Hope it's not as shocking as this Nov. 29 report:


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Well, liars figure. Some public school administrators are just plain liars, I've found. John Mackiel of Omaha Public Schools claims that the reason that KIPP Charter Schools run rings around regular public schools in test scores for disadvantaged kids is that they "skim" the best students. KIPP does not skim students. All kids from the poorest sections of a district are accepted, with a lottery used for the excess. Actually, public schools "skim" students, because they place problem kids in special schools and one never sees the test scores from these schools published or averaged into the district numbers.

OPS claims they have over 500 central office employees, a shocking number in itself. However, they classify around four hundred central office employees as "teachers" if they have teaching certificates and occasionally visit schools.(This was explained to me by a former teacher who later became an audio-visual specialist.) Thank the founding fathers for a free press to keep these tricksters halfway honest!
National math test scores continue to be disappointing. This poor trend persists in spite of new texts, standardized tests with attached implied threats, or laptops in the class. At some point, maybe we should admit that math, as it is taught currently and in the recent past, seems irrelevant to a large percentage of grade school kids.

Why blame a sixth grade student or teacher trapped by meaningless lessons? Teachers are frustrated. Students check out.

The missing element is reality. Instead of insisting that students learn another sixteen formulae, we need to involve them in tangible life projects. And the task must be interesting.

Project-oriented math engages kids. It is fun. They have a reason to learn the math they may have ignored in the standard lecture format of a class room.

Alan Cook
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