My Goal in Blogging

I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

And STILL More on Math

Given the massive interest about math my blog continues to generate, I am now receiving various articles from others about math (thank you!).

First, here is one from the University of Chicago on the important role that parents have in talking about math to their young children ( I found this research fascinating -- in part because we hear tons about the importance of reading to kids early on in terms of promoting literacy, but much less about the importance of talking about math/numbers.

Second, here's a story from the Boston Globe on how even Massachusetts is losing ground in advanced math ( I found this one pretty depressing -- both as a parent of three kids in Massachusetts schools and as a professor.


Anonymous said...

Is it time to take another look at the anti-tracking agenda?
Is there a way to create challenge for students who are the outliers in math that doesn't create difficulties for those worried about the social/political results of a separate program?
Are heterogenous groupings leading us to have more problems than they solve?

Quoted from the Globe article said...

"To boost performance, said Peterson, Massachusetts and the country need to more aggressively recruit highly qualified math teachers, possibly by offering them a higher salary."

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:46

Where are the highly successful tracked districts? When do they start tracking? When do YOU think tracking should start?

In Amherst "ability grouping" starts in 8th grade for math at the middle school - 9th grade for ELA, Social Studies & Science. Are you suggesting that we should follow the lead of the MS Math department?

Ed said...

0ne other thing -- we need not to be focused on math to the exclusion of all else. We also want literacy - and that is a particular issue with the boys, we want to have some knowledge of civics & history -- in the early grades we need to build the foundation for both high school and whatever the kid does later....

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:53:

English is NOT grouped by ability at the high school. All English classes are heterogeneous, with an option IN class to do an Honors project, or an AP project, whatever the case may be.

Like all the other heterogeneous classes in the district, this does not work well. Some teachers resent the "honors" students for giving them more work to do. I had an English teacher say to my child: "You honor students give me so much extra work to do. It is such a pain." How's that for encouragement? How's that for having high expectations for all students? Yes, I did talk to administrators in the building about the situation; and yes that teacher is still at the school. The AP project within the heterogeneous classroom is not enough work to prepare any student there to take an AP English test.

English is one of the weakest departments in the high school, though some of the English electives available to seniors seem to be good.

lise said...

@Anon 8:53

The district we moved from is a high performing district in MA. Ability grouping began in 6th grade for math, 8th grade for science, 9th grade for everything else. Also, in the middle school there was lots of project work (vs. tests and worksheets)which let kids perform at their own level regardless of the level of other kids in the class.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:51 p.m.:

If only your experience with the English teacher was an isolated one, but it's not. Many of us have had our "outlier child" responded to in similar ways. What's worse is the outright admission from the teacher that he/she does not have time for your child, but "she/he will be fine". Fine, that is, twiddling her/his thumbs.

We're not making this stuff up, but we're expected to just shut up about it (or risk being branded as a shameful elitist for wanting more for one's child).

Anonymous said...

Arlington, MA starts tracking in the third grade. I don't know if that's specifically for math only.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

No one is saying focus on math to the exclusion of everything else. Here is a clip from a study done at Stanford University.

American math achievement trails most industrialized nations
By Lisa M. Krieger

Maintaining the nation's productivity depends on developing a cadre of scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and other professionals, according to President Barack Obama.

"We should not ignore the top end -- because the top end is very important for innovation and the future of our economy," Hanushek said.