Ted Nutting, a calculus teacher in Seattle, blames “reform math” for students’ low achievement. Specifically, he blames Terry Bergeson, superintendent of public instruction in Washington state, for overseeing the development of “weak, vague math standards” based on a reform model.
This has turned teachers into “facilitators” who “guide” children in learning activities. It has promoted “differentiated instruction,” placing students of wildly differing abilities together where some students cannot do the required work, often to the detriment of those who can.
Half of 10th graders fail the math portion of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL), which tests low-level math skills, Nutting writes.
We’ve passed students on from class to class; there is no meaningful threshold they must cross to enter a more-difficult class. Since we find that many students in our classes cannot do the work, we dumb down the courses. We say we are admitting unprepared students into our classes in order to “challenge” them.
But students should be challenged in the classes that they are qualified to take, not sent on to classes where they cannot do the work. Unfortunately, things are changing, even in our school’s AP calculus classes: We’re starting to admit unqualified students, and our program will soon begin to deteriorate.
Via Jim Miller of Sound Politics.