Thursday, June 23, 2011

Raising Learning Levels in Mathematics

I agree with Diana that finding a publication relevant to this topic has been difficult. But, I believe I found a good article related to mathematics.

William Tate's publication “Access and Opportunities to Learn are Not Accidents” (Tate) discusses eliminating the achievement gap in mathematics for African American and Latino / Hispanic and female students. Because of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) both state- and national-level mathematics standards have been established. Tate contends that there are research-based strategies which can be used to improve both the teaching and learning of mathematics. Stated briefly, Tate says that “designing appropriate solutions (to schools' mathematics problem) will require creativity, hard choices, performance tests, iterative action, and evaluation.” (Tate, p. 6)

The achievement gap for various ethnic groups has been magnified by the fact that school-age population became more diverse between 1980 and 1990 (Tate, p. 7). Tate states that “one reason many schools lack the insight to make appropriate instructional changes is related to how they organize and analyze data” (Tate, p. 9). Two different studies – the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and the National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS) of 1988 – showed similar trends. The NAEP study showed improvement in mathematics achievement for all ethnic groups from 1973-1999, but no group performing on average at the highest performance level. The NELS study of over 10,000 students in nearly 800 high schools nationwide showed that African Americans, Hispanics, and Whites made statistically significant gains in mathematics achievement and that the gains made by African American and Hispanic students were larger than those of white students (Tate, p. 12).

With the problem defined, Tate explains potential solutions which he terms as “Opportunity to Learn” (OTL) factors: time, quality, and design. Tate states that “two of the most powerful predictors of school mathematics achievement … have been (a) increased time on task in high-level mathematics and (b) the number of courses taken in mathematics” (Tate, p. 16). “Quality” corresponds to the quality of professional development, quality of curriculum, and quality of instruction. With regards to quality of curriculum, Tate states that “each school should design an academic plan based on local mathematics standards and an associated accountability structure” (Tate, p. 30).

Tate indicates that part of quality education is having educators who are eager to listen to each other and students, who are open to a variety of educational solutions, and are never content with just trial and error methods. These are the types of teachers and instructional leaders who can engineer changes in mathematics education.

Tate VI, W. (2005). Access and opportunities to learn are not accidents: Engineering mathematical progress in your school. Greensboro, NC: Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast.

No comments:

Post a Comment