The National Center for Education Statistics has released its biennial results in math based on representative samples from 330,000 students in grades 4 and 8. For the first time since the evaluations began in 1990, there was no overall improvement nationally at the 4th grade level, although eight states went up and four states went down. Pennsylvania stayed the same.
One theory to explain the flat results is teachers' lack of content knowledge. Former Massachusetts Education Commissioner David Driscoll says until this fall, teachers there could receive a state elementary license without answering a single answer correctly in mathematics--if they did well enough in other subject areas. 55%failed when the math portion was tested separately. Driscoll says the building blocks for success in math are put in place in elementary school, so students need strong teachers.
The national 4th grade black/white achievement gap stayed the same at 26 points--exactly the figure for Pennsylvania.
8th grade scores were up nationally and in Pennsylvania, but the state's black/white achievement gap is 34--above the national average of 32 points.
Report cards for reading and science will be issued in early 2010.