“Students Make Gains In Testing On Science” - The New York Times, 11 May 2012
“American eighth graders have made modest gains in national science testing, with Hispanic and black students narrowing the gap between them and their white and Asian peers…”
“Low Scores on Science Test Revive Concerns” - The Wall Street Journal, 11 May 2012
“U.S. eighth graders made modest gains on the latest national science exam, but more than two-thirds still lacked a solid grasp of science facts, according to figures released Thursday that renewed concerns American schools are inadequately preparing children for college and the workforce.
The two newspapers looked at the results on the Science portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (“NAEP”) from different perspectives.
The NY Times emphasized the increase from an average of 150 out of 300 (in 2009) to 152 out of 300 (in 2011). The WSJ focused on the fact that 30% of students earning a Proficient rating in 2009 versus 32% earning that level in 2011.
Both the headlines and the summary paragraphs are correct, but what really matters? And what does that have to do with math curriculum in Greenwich Public Schools?
Like it or not, life is not lived in a vacuum, without competition. We compete not just with our neighbors, but with the whole world now. And if only one third of our students are Proficient in science, do we really think we are going to be competitive with other states, or with other countries? Connecticut’s results put us right in the middle of the pack of states.
And think about this: only 2% of the students taking the test (nation-wide and in Connecticut) in 2011 scored at the Advanced level. This is the most likely pool for the engineers and scientists of the future. The pool seems rather shallow to me. Neither the WSJ nor the NYT mentioned this result.
A word on performance levels: A Proficient level result on the NAEP “represents solid academic performance. Students reaching this level have demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter.” Compare this with Proficient on the CMT’s for math or language arts, which means you are below Proficient (i.e., Basic or even Below Basic) when the results are compared to the NAEP, according to studies. For long time readers, that is why I have not focused on CMT Proficient percentages, although that is what our state focuses on.
So same results, different interpretations, but same problem: poor results compared to our competitors. Seems like I have heard this before regarding Greenwich’s CMT math results versus other school districts here in Connecticut.