Tuesday, December 11, 2012

TIMSS: Celebrate Mediocrity!

Twitter and EdWeek both heralding our above averageness in headlines from TIMSS in what seems to be a throw up our hands moment.  When did we start striving for being above average in the world. We should be the world leaders.

Headlines from the Edweek article:

  • East Asian countries far outpace us - nearly HALF of all 8th grade students tested in South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan are Advanced compared to 7% for US students
  • Russia outscored the US in 8th grade math for the first time
  • US improved in just one category - 4th grade math - since 2007
On the plus side
In a plug for Common Core Math Standards which really move towards coherence and application in the shifts - 48% of fourth graders like learning mathematics but only 26% of 8th graders like learning math and that attitude has a distinct correlation to test scores.  

From the article
"Meanwhile, many 4th graders around the world (69 percent) had math teachers who reported making efforts to use instructional practices intended to interest students and reinforce learning, such as posing questions to elicit reasons and explanations, and bringing interesting items to class. At the 8th grade, however, only 39 percent of students internationally reported that their teachers frequently related lessons to their daily lives, and just 18 percent said they had teachers who routinely brought interesting materials to class."

I just came from a great NMSI Common Core Teacher Training and it is all about showing relevance, coherence and bringing interesting materials to math class.  We are going to finally move the needle on results and stop celebrating mediocrity.