It’s sort of natural for those advocating for school reform to focus on things that are wrong–wrong things being the ones we all want changed. Negativity is a bummer of a way to start out the new year. So I resolved that the year’s first post would emphasize progress.
The Nation’s Report Card: Long-Term Trend 2008 looked back at progress in teaching math and reading over nearly four decades. Here’s a clip from the report showing what’s happened in math.
Just look at the amazing gain in reading for nine year olds: 24 points over 35 years. Back in 1973 the gap between 9-year math and 13-year old math was 47 points. The gain was half that amount. The way I read the graph, math achievement among 9-year olds grew by the equivalent of two years of schooling! (In keeping with the strictly positive nature of today’s post, please don’t look at the line for 17-year olds.)
The report also compared gains for different racial and ethnic groups.
Notably, while math improved for everyone, black and hispanic students made the biggest gains. In fact, we’ve cut the black-white test score gap in math by about a third. It’s not where we want to end up, but at least we’re moving in the right direction.