Study: Common Core could boost U.S. math performance

By examining the top-performing countries in the TIMSS study, Schmidt and his team were able to identify what defines world-class standards.

The Common Core State Standards in mathematics have the potential to enhance students’ academic performance if properly implemented, but most states have a long way to go, according to research from William Schmidt, a University Distinguished Professor and co-director of the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University.

At an event co-sponsored by Achieve, Chiefs for Change, and the Foundation for Excellence in Education, Schmidt presented a briefing on his work, titled “Common Core State Standards Math: The Relationship Between High Standards, Systemic Implementation, and Student Achievement.”

Schmidt’s research took existing data from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) to determine how the Common Core State Standards in math compared to math standards in countries whose eighth graders performed the best on math assessments.…Read More

Wolfram Alpha launches free portal with tools for math instruction

A free resource helps teachers locate interactive tools for math instruction.

Numerous studies have highlighted the importance of U.S. students’ math achievement, and now math teachers have a new resource, aligned with the Common Core standards and available free of charge, that might help them teach abstract math lessons.

Launched on Jan. 18, Wolfram Alpha’s Wolfram Education Portal is a free website, currently in beta testing, that offers teaching tools and materials such as an interactive textbook, lesson plans aligned with the Common Core State Standards, and supplemental materials that include demonstrations, widgets, and videos.

Wolfram Alpha, created by noted scientist Stephen Wolfram, is a free research website powered by a computational knowledge engine that generates answers to questions in real time by doing calculations on its own vast internal knowledge base. The site’s Education Portal contains full materials for algebra and selected materials for calculus, but it will continue to grow and include more materials. Wolfram plans to expand the Education Portal to include community features, problem generators, web-based course apps, and the ability to create personalized content.…Read More

Making math lessons as easy as 1, pause, 2, pause …

An increasingly popular approach to teaching math emphasizes visual aids and a slow pace, with a week on the numbers 1 and 2. And while teachers initially are skeptical of this approach, many now are fervent supporters, reports the New York Times. The new approach is based on the national math system of Singapore and aims to emulate that country’s success by promoting a deeper understanding of numbers and math concepts. Students in Singapore have repeatedly ranked at or near the top on international math exams since the mid-1990s. Dozens of U.S. districts have adopted Singapore math, as it is called, amid growing concerns that too many American students lack the higher-order math skills called for in a global economy. Singapore math might be the latest in a string of fads, but supporters say it seems to address one of the difficulties in teaching math: All children learn differently. In contrast to the most common math programs in the United States, Singapore math devotes more time to fewer topics, to ensure that children master the material through detailed instruction, questions, problem solving, and visual and hands-on aids like blocks, cards, and bar charts. Ideally, they do not move on until they have thoroughly learned a topic. Principals and teachers say that slowing down the learning process gives students a solid math foundation upon which to build increasingly complex skills, and makes it less likely that they will forget and have to be retaught the same thing in later years. And with Singapore math, the pace can accelerate by fourth and fifth grades, putting children as much as a year ahead of students in other math programs as they grasp complex problems more quickly…

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