To the Editor:
This is a response to a letter written by Junius Calitri, president of VSBA, that I received via e-mail:
Mr. Calitri, your comments concerning the achievement of our students needs some adjusting and clarification especially in regards to math education.
I can only guess that the achievement of our students was from the results of the NAEP and the NECAP assessments. Evidence indicates that the students did okay on the math part of the NAEP and not so good on the math portion of the NECAP. You also indicated, that a national survey, has for two years, called us the smartest state; again, I cannot find where you have cited your source. I plan on providing my source as I want all to know where I secure my information . The data I have, concerning the NAEP and the NECAP, is as follows:
NAEP data downloaded from the National Assessment of Educational Progress indicates that in 2005, Vermont did okay on the NAEP but the results are still shocking: 2,100 fourth graders took the NAEP assessment; about 903 of the fourth graders were classified as proficient (37%) or advanced (6%), however 56%, or 1,176, were either Basic (43%) or Below Basic (13%).
Basic means you can hardly do any math correctly; 2,300 8th graders took the NAEP assessments; about 874 of the 8th graders were classified as Proficient (29%) or Advanced (9%) however 62%, or 1,406, were either Basic (40%) or Below Basic (22%). Basic still means you can hardly do any math correctly.
I also investigated what the questions looked like at the different grades. I will offer one of the questions. Here is a fourth-grade math question: 4/6 1/6 = a. 3 b. 3/6 c. 3/0 d. 5/6 only 53% of the 163,000 students that answered the question answered it right. How awful! The eighth grade is even worse.
NECAP in 2006: 40,521 students took the NECAP assessment in math19% or about 7,700 of these students were classified as Proficient with Distinction. This means that they may have missed any where between 0% to 25% of the points on the math test; 44% or about 18,000 of these students were classified as Proficient. This means that they may have missed between 26% and 55% of the points on the math test; 18% or about 7,300 of these students were classified as Partially Proficient. (This means that they may have missed between 56% and 70% of the points on the math test.)
Eighteen percent, or about 7,300, of these students were classified as Substantially Below Proficient. This means that they may have missed between 71% of the test to 99% of the points on the math test.
Mr. Calitri, since you live in Cornwall you must have received the ACSU School Report for May 2007. Next week, in my math-education column, Learning Curve in the Eagle, you will find my analysis of this report and what it means to the citizens of the ACSU district.
Honesty will get us to the goal of quality mathematics education. We have the personnel; we do not have the leadership.
I see that we have a long way to go and at the pace we are moving it will be many moons before we see the light at the end of the tunnel.
We do wish to invest in our future leaders, we do wish to train our wonderful teachers however, we do not wish to keep wasting money on fads that are only producing students who display such poor quality, especially, in mathematics.