## What’s 1% of 100?

I finally managed to take a look at the Providence Journal story about the abysmal math scores of Rhode Island’s high-school students, and I have to say that I think Dan Yorke‘s show may be underrepresenting the problem.
The woman from the Department of Education whom he was in the process of interviewing when I left my job site asserted that the old way of teaching math (you know, memorizing and treating mathematics as essentially a system of facts, rather than impressions) worked for 25–30% of students. The average listener might have compared that percentage to Rhode Island high schoolers’ current 22% proficiency rate, while her figure is probably more appropriately compared with the “proficient with distinction” category.
It’s anecdotal, but I’d say that around 30% of my early-’90s high school class (around 45 students) could be counted on to achieve distinction on such tests, which in this case means a score of at least 554 of 580, or about 95%. According to the current data, 123 students in all of Rhode Island managed that feat. That’s one percent.

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16 years ago

What’s 1% of 100?
The sad part is, a whole lot of them probably couldn’t tell you the answer.
Interesting that there’s been news about the Providence PD fudging their crime stats recently (of course, most of us have assumed they’ve been doing that for a while now). However, a better story would be about how our educational stats are being fudged by the powers that be — for political and/or financial reasons. If they are stating something is 22% or whatever, I can assure you, the “real” number is far less than that.
Until we reorient our public education system so that the education of children is it’s primary function, and not just an incidental occurrence of a public jobs program, nothing is going to change for the better. Too bad.

Greg
16 years ago

Seriously, can anyone still doubt that it is the INTENT of the socialist teachers’ unions to build an entire generation of citizens so incapable of supporting themselves that they NEED a socialized America to hold their hands from cradle to grave?
There’s hardly an argument to be made that can contradict it. They clearly aren’t teaching these children anything in a meaningful fashion except how to procreate and hate conservatism and the self-sufficient high achievers that hard work and a good education can create.
If you want a future for your children that doesn’t involve the phrase “Would you like fries with that?” then you have the moral imperative to get your kids out of Rhode Island public schools. To do any less is abuse.

Mike
16 years ago

I think Greg is the final word on this subject.
Just look where the RI Democrat elite sends their kids. It sure ain’t Mount Pleasant or Warwick Vets.

Ken
16 years ago

According to Channel 10 news report:
“PROVIDENCE – With the exception of Classical High School, about 97 percent of students in Providence high schools were unable to do grade-level math, test results show.
Results released Wednesday of the New England Common Assessment Program showed that just 22 percent of the Rhode high school students tested were proficient in math. The test was administered in October in Rhode Island and the first time the tests were given at the high school level.
Providence school leaders told NBC 10 they’re disappointed but not surprised.
School leaders said the single biggest reason for the low scores is that Providence high schools don’t have a standardized math curriculum that all schools are required to follow. As a result, each school is following its own individual math instruction plan.
“There’s a history of letting schools manage their own curriculums and we’re finding that because we don’t have a district-wide expectation of skills and concepts, students are having trouble landing in the right place in the correct grade,” said Providence school spokeswoman Christina O’Reilly.
The school department told NBC 10 an education firm has been studying Providence high schools for the past few weeks and it’s begun the process of developing a core curriculum.”
The above supports The National Council on Teacher Quality 2007 State Teacher Policy Yearbook findings (http://www.nctq.org/stpy/) that the RI Department of Education and local school department’s rules and regulations are inhibiting quality teacher instruction in the state.
Way to go Rhode Island! Create a state-wide test for all high school students that are not taught from a state-wide standardized curriculum and expect the students to pass. This is your state-wide education administration acting in all its intelligent glory.
But of course, the teachers and unions will be blamed.

16 years ago

There’s plenty of blame to go around, Ken, but the standardized curriculum thing strikes me as a bit of a dodge. Why ought professional teachers need a standardized curriculum to teach algebra and geometry? Kids have been taught these subject for decades, with a variety of methods, and still done well on standardized tests like the SATs and had adequate math skills in life.
We ought to look at the curricula, of course, but I don’t see why districts and their teachers couldn’t have been trusted to develop them to the needs of their own communities.

Ken
16 years ago

Justin,
If the subject matter is not taught in the right grades to the students and at the proper proficiency level than the state-wide standardized test scores will always come up short as what just happened.
Making sure standardized curriculums is taught at grade level in the local school systems should be the responsibility of State of RI Department of Education and local school departments.
Earlier last year, I remember someone from the RI Principals Associations on this Blog indicating that some of the RI education standards had been rewritten and were going to be introduced this year. If that is the case; first year testing grade; first year standards; first year standardized test makes for interesting results

iggy
16 years ago

Ken has it right. The rot starts at the head: at the Dept. of Ed. and also at RIC and URI, our primary teacher certificate mills.
I have written this before: Justin, you need to become aquainted with the National Council for Teacher Quality reports. Their one report on the general preparation of RI elementary school teachers, and their other report on the preparation of elementary school teachers to teach reading are devastating. But most alarming, the projo and other media have ignored these reports—and others—that basically indict the RIC and URI teacher preparation programs. (Is it the editors or is it dopey reporters at the projo?) As with most teacher prep programs in the country—Massachusetts and Florida being a couple of outstanding exceptions—our RI teachers are trained in the “Progressive Philosophy” exclusively—with the emphasis on “philosophy”. “Science” is a dirty word among our education elites here in RI and, indeed, throughout much of the country. The Ed. departments at RIC and URI will not change their
spots until a very serious media and political spotlight is focused on them for a long, long time. Hell hath no fury like a teacher education academic scorned!
And here’s another idea Justin, one that’ll get your blood pressure up to snuff on those days it’s dragging: Just for the hell of it, go to the RIC bookstore and browse through the teacher prep coursebooks on the shelves. Pick the books up and read the back covers. Poke inside. I guarantee, you’ll find a lot you’re very familiar with. When you’re done, you’ll have enough material swimming in your head to write your next 16 columns.
Iggy
PS: And remember, “Its the reading, stupid!”