Links, Articles, Essays, and Opinions on K-12 Education

Collected and annotated by Bas Braams, New York University

Current Top Links: Chancellor Joel I. Klein's "Children First" New Standard Curriculum for NYC Public Schools and Contributions to the Children First Initiative and New Standard Curriculum for NYC Public Schools.

This page contains links to news items, articles, and books on education, links to Web sites related to education, and links to some of my own essays and opinions. The common ground is that I recommend these writings and sites for the reader's attention. The focus is on curriculum and content standards for K-12 mathematics and science, but there are also links related to education research, education policy, and curriculum other than math and science.

Many of the mathematics and science education articles referenced here were first brought to my attention by Elizabeth Carson in connection with New York City HOLD or were found on the Mathematically Correct Web site. For other education issues the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and the Illinois Loop sites were also very important. For continuing updates I benefit most from the Kto16 and NYC HOLD email groups and these additional Web sites: Education News # The Education Gadfly # Education Week. Further notes and credits are at the bottom of the page.

Recent Additions and Page Highlights

Articles, Etc... Math and Science Education

International Comparisons of Student Attainment: Some Issues Arising from the PISA Study, by Harvey Goldstein (preprint, 2003). Provides a reanalysis of the PISA mathematics data comparing France and England that shows great variation in the relative performance of the two countries on different items, essentially precluding a comparison on a single scale. Goldstein's main recommendation is that studies such as PISA should have a longitudinal component - even just following up a sample over a one year period... [more]. By the same author: Education For All: the globalisation of learning targets... [more] and The Education World Cup: international comparisons of student achievement... [more]

Documents and Links on Education, a Web page by Donald Simanek. The author is a retired professor of Physics at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania. Note especially his "Decline of Education" and "Designing a Math Curriculum"... [more]

What I learnt in elementary school, by Ron Aharoni (2003). A professional mathematician describes what he has learnt by teaching in first grade. Aharoni also offers some insight into the "structuralistic" movement in Israeli mathematics education... [more]

The Proposed Math Curriculum For Elementary Schools In Israel: A Critical Summary, by Ron Aharoni (2002). A review of "Program 2000", which proposes to reform Israeli K-6 education following the model of the 1989 NCTM Standards. Features include depreciation of basic algorithms and of fractions, and emphasis on discovery learning and the electronic calculator... [more]. Those that read Hebrew (not me) may want to see also Aharoni's own proposed curriculum... [more] (MS Word)

Texas Testing in Math and Science, by George Scott (EdN, May 12-14, 2003). Op-Ed in three parts about the Texas End of Course high school math and science tests. The author decries the "premeditated academic corruption" of Texas state testing... [more]

1920 - 1995 - 2002 From Education to Remediation, by Michel Delord. An indictment of the trend in the caliber of elementary mathematics education in France, based on a study of 1920's end of grade school tests... [more] (in French).

More articles on math and science education.

Articles, Etc... Other Issues, Cont'd

Can Education Schools be Saved, by George K. Cunningham (AEI, June 9, 2003). "There are two major competing philosophies in education. One asserts that teachers should focus on increasing their students academic achievement. The other dismisses the importance of academic achievement and instead defines good teaching as the creation of a classroom atmosphere that eschews explicit instruction in favor of giving responsibility for learning to the students"... [more]

Articles, Etc... Other Issues in Education

OECD: The Trojan Horse Within, a short history of the OECD and its PISA activities, by Fred Naylor. Current Concerns (Zeit-Fragen) No. 1, 2004. Naylor attacks the political bias of the OECD and of much of the commentary on the results from PISA... [more.]

Cautions on OECD's Recent Educational Survey (PISA), by S. J. Prais, Oxford Review of Education, Vol. 29, June, 2003. Discusses problems with PISA especially in comparison with the IEA international comparisons. From the conclusion: "These reservations, taken together, are sufficiently weighty for it to be unlikely that anything of value for educational policy in the UK can be learned from the PISA survey."... [more]

Estimating the Costs and Benefits of Educational Testing Programs, by Richard Phelps, Education Consumers Network, 2002. "Far from being the hugely expensive enterprise that some testing critics claim for it, standardized testing is not very expensive by most standards. Even under the rather unrealistic assumptions of the GAO study's upper-bound estimates, systemwide tests impose a time and cost burden, as one state testing director put it, 'on a par with field trips.'"... [more]

National Board Certification for Teachers: A Billion Dollar Hoax, by M. O. Thirunarayanan, TC Record, Feb 2004. "[...] despite the lofty image conveyed by its name, the standards for National Board Certification for Teachers are closer to entry level standards for teachers. I will also argue that teachers who attain such certification do not deserve the humongous pay raises and other incentives that have been lavished on them."... [more]

Concerning the state of education in France. Letter to members of the National Assembly, by Groupe de Réflexion Interdisciplinaire sur les Programmes (GRIP), August 15, 2003. With this 15-page "technical note" the new organization GRIP wishes to draw attention to the massive degradation of the French educational system. They call for a reconstruction of academic programs in the schools and a redefinition of the academic tracks... [more]. Of related interest: GRIP; Sauver les Lettres; and the Web page of Michel Delord.

How Should American Students Understand their Civic Culture? The Continuing Battle over the 2002 Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Framework, by Sandra Stotsky. Testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, September 24, 2003... [more]

Research or 'Cheerleading'? Scholarship on Community School District 2, New York City, by Lois Weiner (EPAA 11/27, August 2003). Manhattan's CSD2 has been widely promoted as a model of urban school reform. This article describes how researchers have assumed the role of cheerleader for the district policies. The article pays special attention to the advocacy research of Harvard's Richard Elmore and University of Pittsburgh's Lauren Resnick... [more]. An accompanying reply by Resnick is also of interest... [more]

More articles on other issues in education.

BJB Essays and Letters

Review of PISA Sample Science Unit 1: Stop That Germ, November 29, 2004. "The misery of this PISA sample science item doesn't end with the bad questions and answers and the apparent inability of the PISA science staff to think like a competent scientist in the given context. They even got the story wrong!"... [more]. Of related interest: Review of PISA Sample Science Unit 2: Peter Cairney, November 29, 2004. "...offensively anti-science"... [more]; and Review of PISA Sample Science Unit 3: Corn, December, 2004. "...quite reasonable. I take issue mainly with the verbosity of the presentation."... [more]

Apples to Apples: An Evaluation of Charter Schools Serving General Student Populations (July 2003). Comments on a Manhattan Institute working paper of Jay P. Greene, Marcus A. Winters, and Greg Forster. The study claims to find a small but true performance advantage of charter schools over public schools serving similar populations. A closer look shows that the authors confuse the ability of schools to improve themselves with their ability to improve their students... [more]

Critique of the New York Regents Math A Exam (June, 2003). The Regents Math A exam that was given on June 17, 2003, has received much negative press attention. Here is a review of the latest exam and also of the Aug 2002 and Jan 2003 instances... [more]

Testing High Stakes Tests: Can We Believe the Results of Accountability Tests? (March 2003). Comments on a Manhattan Institute report of Jay P. Greene, Marcus A. Winters, and Greg Forster. The report finds a strong positive correlation between results on high stakes and on low stakes tests and concludes from that that high stakes test results are not negatively distorted by "teaching to the test". I discuss that argument... [more]

Spiraling through UCSMP Everyday Mathematics (March 2003). The spiral nature and the concept of distributed practice in Everyday Mathematics is illustrated by the fourth grade coverage of whole number multiplication and division... [more]

Some questions about the Children First process and outcome (March 2, 2003). An email to Ms. Eva Moskowitz, Chair of the NYC Council Education Committee, with suggestions for questions to ask of Chancellor Klein at an upcoming hearing... [more]

The Many Ways of Arithmetic in UCSMP Everyday Mathematics (Feb 2003). An overview of the program's multiple algorithms for paper and pencil whole number arithmetic... [more]

More BJB essays.

BJB's Most Wanted

Things I would like to add to this page. Please advise:

Assessment Reviews. Content reviews of widely used standardized achievement tests, such as CTB Terra Nova, ITBS, CTBS, Stanford-9 (SAT-9); CA STAR, TX TAAS and TAKS; also NAEP; and for international comparison, TIMSS and PISA. Please see: What Little I Know.

Focus on Science. Curriculum reviews, Standards reviews, and commentary in general on science education.

European perspectives. More links to like-minded sites in Western Europe.

Recommended Remote Sites and Pages

Education News: Education News # The Education Gadfly # Education Week # CER News Archives # New York Times # Washington Post # CS Monitor # LA Times # SD Union Tribune # Chicago Sun Times # Baltimore Sun # Philadelphia Inquirer # CNN # Hartford Courant

Education Blogs: Number 2 Pencil (Kimberly Swygert) # Joanne Jacobs # Scientifically Correct # Brian Micklethwait # NAS Forum # Catholic School Blogger # Highered Intelligence (Michael Lopez) # Homeschool (Daryl Cobranchi) # Critical Mass (Erin O'Connor) # Education Weak (Lisa Snell) # Parent Pundit # Larry Braden

Other Collections of Links and Articles: Education Gadfly Topical Index # CER's Web Links # Presentation to the Los Altos - Mountain View LWV # Toby Earl's Teach Math # Kevin Karplus's Math Ed Bookmarks

National Organizations: Mathematically Correct # Thomas B. Fordham Foundation # PRI Center for School Reform # PPI on Education # NDOL on Education # National Right to Read Foundation # National Reading Panel # The READ Institute # OneNation.Org # National Council on Teacher Quality # National Council for History Education

Focus on School Choice: Center for Education Reform # American Education Reform Council # School Reformers # Milton & Rose Friedman Foundation # Black Alliance for Educational Options # Citizens for Educational Freedom # Alliance for the Separation of School and State # School Choices

Local Activism: NYC HOLD # Illinois Loop # Plano (TX) Parental Rights Council # Alliance for Real Math in Maine Schools # Parents for Evidence Based Education (IA) # P.R.E.S.S. (WI) # Where's the Math (CA) # Mountain View (CA) Achievement # Maple River (MN) Education Coalition # Teach Utah Kids # Informed Residents of Reading (MA) # Learn Right (Cattaraugus - Little Valley, NY) # Palo Alto HOLD (Archival)

Canada and Europe: Organization for Quality Education (CAN) # Sauver les Lettres (FRA) # Sauver les Maths (FRA) # Lire Ecrire (FRA) # Observatoire Indépendant des Pratiques d'Education et de Formation (FRA) # Parents en Colère (FRA) # ReformEducation (FRA) # Reconstruire l'école (FRA) # Association "Refaire L'Ecole" (CHE) # Campaign for Real Education (GBR) # Reading Reform Foundation (GBR) # Heelmeesters (NDL) # Boze Betas (NDL)

Personal Pages: Ralph Raimi # David Klein # Bill Quirk # Hung-Hsi Wu # Richard Phelps # Chester Finn # Jeff Lindsay # Alan Cromer # Martin Kozloff # Bert Fristedt # Lawrence Gray # Jerome Dancis # Michel Delord (FRA) # Jean Pierre Demailly (FRA) # Henk Barendregt (NLD) # Fritz Nestle (DEU) # Claus Michael Ringel (DEU)

Standards and Frameworks: Developing Educational Standards # California Content Standards # CA Curriculum Frameworks # MA Curriculum Frameworks # Mathematically Correct Mathematics Standards of Learning (1997) # Texas Alternative Document (1997)

Standards Reviews: The State Of State Standards # The Y2000 NCTM Standards # NCEE/ACPS, by Bill Quirk

Curricula: Core Knowledge Foundation # Singapore Textbooks # Saxon Publishers # K12 Homeschooling # Hillsdale Academy

Curriculum Reviews, Math and Science: Mathematically Correct Curriculum Reviews # Reviews of TERC Investigations # Reviews of Everyday Mathematics (EM) # Reviews of Connected Mathematics Project (CMP) # Reviews of College Preparatory Mathematics (CPM) # Reviews of Interactive Mathematics Program (IMP) # Review of TERC, by Bill Quirk # Review of CMP, by James Milgram # Review of CPM, by Wayne Bishop # CA Review of McD-L Concepts and Skills # CA Review of McD-L Stucture and Method # CA Review of P-H Middle School Algebra # Review of SF/AW Math, 4th Grade, by Kevin Killion

Curriculum Reviews, Other Subjects: CER Best Bets # The Textbook League # Florida Center for Reading Research Program Reviews # History and Social Studies in TX # World History in WI

Assessments Assessed: NAEP Math, 8th Grade (PDF) # TIMSS Math, 4th Grade # PISA Math

Non-Education Favorites: Arts & Letters Daily # ABE Books

Index to the Remainder of this Page

The headings in this Page Outline are all clickable, and are links to the named main sections of the page. The browser's "back" button may then be used to return to this outline. Readers may also find it convenient to use the space bar and the delete or backspace key to scroll the page.

Articles, Etc... Math and Science Education

Policy and General

Math Ed Philosophy

Other Math and Science Issues

Math and Science Standards and Curricula

Math and Science Content Topics

Math and Science Assessments

BJB Essays and Letters

Math and Science International

Articles, Etc... Other Issues in Education

Policy and General

Successful Schools

School Choice

Class Size

Teacher Issues



College Admissions


Education Research

Philosophies of Education

Reading and Language

Bilingual Ed and ELL

Special Education

Recommended Books

Policy and General

Math and Science

Reading and Language

Other Education books lists

End Notes

Articles, Etc... Math and Science Education

Policy and General

To Chancellor Joel Klein about K-12 Mathematics Curricula in New York City, a letter from Chairs and Administrators of NYC mathematics departments (Dec 17, 2002). The Chairs ask to participate actively in New York City mathematics curriculum reform efforts and offer their views on necessary structural change in those efforts... [more]

A Brief History of American K-12 Mathematics Education in the 20th Century, by David Klein (2003). "Broadly speaking, the education wars of the past century are best understood as a protracted struggle between content and pedagogy. [...] A choice of concentrated content precludes too much student centered, discovery learning... In the same way, the choice of a pedagogy can naturally limit the amount of content that can be presented to students"... [more]. David Klein's home page.

High Achievement in Mathematics: Lessons from Three Los Angeles Elementary Schools, by David Klein (Brookings, Aug 2000). The paper describes characteristics and academic policies of three low income schools (Bennett-Kew, Kelso, and Robert Hill Lane) whose students are unusually successful in mathematics. Klein identifies as fundamental ingredients: California's clear set of high quality grade by grade standards; textbooks and curricula aligned to the standards; sufficiently high teacher knowledge of mathematics to teach to the standards... [more] (PDF)

National Science Foundation Systemic Initiatives: How a small amount of federal money promotes ill-designed mathematics and science programs in K-12 and undermines local control of education; by Michael McKeown, David Klein, and Chris Patterson. Chapter 13 of What's at Stake in the K-12 Standards Wars - A Primer for Educational Policy Makers, edited by Sandra Stotsky (Peter Lang, New York, 2000). Many states and districts have accepted NSF Systemic Initiatives grants to make "fundamental, comprehensive, and coordinated changes in science, mathematics, and technology education through attendant changes in policy, resource allocation, governance, management, content and conduct." This article argues that it is all for the worse, and looks at the dynamics behind acceptance of these grants... [more] (PDF)

Whole Hog for Whole Math, by Lynne V. Cheney (1998). The NSF Education Directorate went Whole Hog fighting the back to basics revision of the CA Standards... [more]. By the same author: Exam Scam - The Latest Education Disaster: Whole Math (WS, Aug 1997)... [more]

Does Two Plus Two Still Equal Four? What Should Our Children Know about Math? A forum at the American Enterprise Institute on March 4, 2002, addressed these questions. Moderated by Lynne V. Cheney, with participation of Mike McKeown, Gail Burrill, David Klein, Tom Loveless, and Lee V. Stiff... [more]. The forum has been reviewed... [more]... [more]

The Math Meltdown, by Staff of the Christian Science Monitor (May 16/23/30, 2000). A three-part series, each part having 5-7 articles; we link only to the first article of each. Part 1: In a high-tech era, Americans aren't keeping pace in math... [more]. Part 2: Controversial math programs: questions about the approval process... [more]. Part 3: What some schools are doing to boost performance... [more]. Reader responses... [more]

Math Ed Philosophy

* The Math Wars, by David Ross (2001). Discusses the NCTM-led reform and its opposition. "By advocating mastery of the traditional algorithms, the reformers' opponents have in fact established themselves as the defenders of conceptual thinking in the Math Wars"... [more]

What About Rote Memorization?, by Ralph Raimi. In education reform circles "memory" is often regarded as an ugly word, and transmogrified into "rotememory". But, writes Ralph Raimi, without memory there is no knowledge... [more]

In Defense of "Mindless Rote", by Ethan Akin (March 30, 2001). "It is a profoundly erroneous truism repeated by all copybooks, and by eminent people when they are making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of operations which we can perform without thinking about them"... [more]

New Battles in the Math Wars, by Wilfried Schmid (2000). "Math education reformers have a prescription for raising the mathematical knowledge of schoolchildren. Do not teach the standard algorithms of arithmetic, such as long addition and multiplication, they say; let the children find their own methods for adding and multiplying two-digit numbers, and for larger numbers, let them use calculators"... [more]

Politicizing Science Education, by Paul R. Gross (2000). "Purposeful intrusion of politics into education theories, standards, and curricula is common, and science is no longer an exception. This intrusion takes various forms: exaltation of process at the expense of content; trivialization of such content as is covered [...]; and teaching about science in social or political generalities, instead of science itself"... [more]

Basic Skills Versus Conceptual Understanding: A Bogus Dichotomy in Mathematics Education, by H.-H. Wu (AE, Fall 1999). Using the arithmetic of fractions as his prime example Prof. Wu argues that good teaching of basic skills is essential for achieving conceptual understanding... [more] (PDF)

* Reform Mathematics Education: How to "Succeed" Without Really Trying, by Paul Clopton (2000). "Since the 1980's, there have been substantial efforts nation wide to weaken mathematics education in America, and these efforts have largely been successful... It is this effort, curiously known as reform, that is the root cause of what has come to be known as the math wars"... [more]

The Second Great Math Rebellion, by Tom Loveless (1997). "In 1989, a group of experts in the field of math education, under the auspices of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, launched a campaign to change the content and teaching of mathematics". Loveless discusses what is wrong with this campaign... [more]. Tom Loveless's home page

What Is Changing in Math Education?, by Mathematically Correct (Feb 1996). Describes the influence of constructivism, "whole Math", and the push for "integrated content", all working against the idea that component skills in math can be identified and taught, and that these form building blocks for subsequent learning... [more]

News and Views

Math in The City: A View from the College Classroom, by Stanley Ocken and Robert Feinerman (EU, Dec 2002). Catherine Fosnot, head of the Math in The City teacher enhancement program rejects categorically "that meaning can be passed on to learners via symbols; that whole concepts can be broken into discrete subskills; that concepts can be taught out of context". The authors rise to the defence of content in K-12 mathematics... [more]

Other Math and Science Issues

What is So Difficult About the Preparation of Mathematics Teachers, by H. Wu (preprint, 2002). The author sees a gap between the mathematics that teachers learn in the undergraduate curriculum and what they teach in school. The university does not do enough to help teachers understand the essential characteristics of mathematics: its precision, the ubiquity of logical reasoning, and its coherence as a discipline. The article looks specifically at the teaching of fractions and of school geometry... [more] (PDF)

Some Lessons from California, by Mary Burmeister and H. Wu (manuscript, Jan 2002). Perspectives on mathematics professional development through content oriented summer institutes for elementary school teachers. The authors are a school teacher and a university mathematician... [more] (PDF)

Can there be "research in mathematical education"?, by Herbert S. Wilf (1999?). "We examine a number of papers and books, all of which have been cited, by people who are knowledgeable in the field, as being good examples of `research in mathematics education.' ... [N]o conclusions of any interest follow as a result of any of the `research' that is reported in these works"... [more] (PDF)

* User-friendly Mathematics, by Edsger W. Dijkstra (1984). An intuitive presentation of the theorem of Pythagoras [EWD889]. By the same author: Why Johnny can't understand [EWD991]; Computers and General Education [EWD868]; and On the theorem of Pythagoras [EWD975] (all in PDF). The EWD series home is here.
[Edsger Dijkstra died August 6, 2002, at age 72. Professor Dijkstra was a profound thinker, a superb teacher, and a fine human being. I am very privileged to have had him as my teacher in the Department of mathematics and computing science at Eindhoven.]

News and Views

Trends in Math Achievement: The Importance of Basic Skills, by Tom Loveless (Feb 6, 2003). A presentation on the occasion of the launch of the Math and Science initiative at the Department of Education. Loveless looks at NAEP outcomes and finds that students are failing in the basics... [more]

Bush to Push for Math and Science Upgrade, by David J. Hoff (EdW, 021120). The Bush administration is preparing a campaign to highlight math and science education and improve the way schools teach the subjects. Expect a kick-off summit in early 2003... [more]

"You Might Learn Something", by Adam Michlin (Oct 2002). Renowned computer scientist David Huffman did not award "partial credit" in his classes, and Adam Michlin remembers it with gratitude... [more]

College students brush up on the ABCs of x, y and z, by Alec MacGillis (Baltimore Sun, Sep 15, 2002). About the increasing need for remedial mathematics at UM's flagship campus. According to faculty "the need for remediation is a reflection of a growing national trend: As high schools ease math requirements, abandon traditional math curricula and integrate calculators into the classroom, more students are arriving at top colleges with surprising gaps in their abilities"... [dead link?]

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Math and Science Standards and Curricula

See also: The Y2000 NCTM Standards # The NCEE/ACPS Standards # Mathematically Correct Curriculum Reviews # TERC Reviews # CMP Reviews # CPM Reviews # EM Reviews.

A Tale of Two Math Reforms: The Politics of the New Math and the NCTM Standards (Draft, April 2000), by Tom Loveless. The paper analyzes the politics of mathematics education reform, comparing the development of the New Math in the 1960's with the NCTM Standards movement in the years after about 1985... [more]

Math Problems: Why the U.S. Department of Education's recommended math programs don't add up, by David Klein (ASBJ, April 2000). In October 1999, the U.S. Department of Education released a report designating 10 math programs as "exemplary" or "promising." David Klein and other mathematicians took issue with these designations in an open letter that was published in the Washington Post. This article elaborates their objections... [more]

Good Intentions Are Not Enough, by Richard Askey (1999?). A critique of the philosophy of the 1989 NCTM Standards and some textbooks that reflect those standards, especially the CMP Middle School series. "The NCTM authors of their Standards had the strange notion that it is possible to teach conceptual understanding without developing technical skill at the same time"... [more] (PDF)

Testimony of Stan Metzenberg, before the House Science Subcommittee on Basic Research (980723). About the effects of the educational reform movement on science education in the United States. Metzenberg looks at the California Science Standards, the National Science Education Standards, and the AAAS Benchmarks for Science Literacy. In his view the NSES and the Benchmarks have set a standard of achievement for students that is shockingly low, and related NSF funding is helping to create a generation of scientific illiterates... [more]. Also, Follow-Up Questions for Dr. Stan Metzenberg... [more]

A Coherent Curriculum: The Case of Mathematics, by William Schmidt, Richard Houang, and Leland Cogan, with commentary by E. D. Hirsch and others (American Educator, Summer 2002). Examines national curricula in countries that performed well on TIMSS and compares these with a cross-section of curricula drawn from U.S. State Standards documents. The authors observe that whereas curricula in the high-performing countries show a coherent progression in content, the typical U.S. curriculum is not focused, is highly repetitive across years, is not very demanding by international standards, and is incoherent... [more] (PDF).

How the NCEE Redefines K-12 Math, by Bill Quirk (2002). An analysis of the NCEE New Standards, also known as America's Choice Performance Standards (ACPS). Includes the NYC modifications. "[N]o mathematician would judge the NCEE math performance standards to be an acceptable guide to the math knowledge that should be acquired in K-12"... [more].

A New Mission for NCTM: Save Our Schools, by Frank B. Allen (2000). The author, past President of the NCTM, offers ten statements that this organization should endorse in order to deserve again to be called the National Council of TEACHERS of Mathematics... [more]. By the same author: Mathematics "Council" Loses Hard-Earned Credibility, (1998?)... [more]

A Prescient Letter to Frank Quigley Concerning The New Math, by Ralph A. Raimi (1958). Written a few weeks after the inauguration of the School Mathematics Study Group (SMSG), headed by E. G. Begle... [more]. By the same author: Whatever Happened to the New Math? (1995)... [more] and... [more]

News and Views

A Study of Core-Plus Students Attending Michigan State University, by Richard O. Hill and Thomas H. Parker (Draft, Dec 2002). From the abstract: A study involving over 3000 Michigan students found that students arriving at Michigan State University from four high schools which began using the Core-Plus Mathematics program placed into, and enrolled in, increasingly lower level courses as the implementation progressed. The grades these students earned in the mathematics courses they took are also below average... [more] (PDF)

New Front in the NYC Math Wars, By Elizabeth Carson and Denise Haffenden. Introducing NYC HOLD and announcing a Forum against "reform" mathematics programs in NYC schools, June 6, 2001... [more]

The New, Flexible Math Meets Parental Rebellion, by Anemona Hartocollis (NYT, April 27, 2000). In 1997 NYC's District 2 embraced a new "constructivist" mathematics curriculum without textbooks. This has enraged many parents who find that their children cannot multiply easily or understand basic algebra... [more]

2+2=5: Fuzzy Math Invades Wisconsin Schools, by Leah Vukmir (WiI, Winter 2001). The President of PRESS describes parent reaction to the introduction of the TERC Investigations curriculum into a Wisconsin School District. Ms. Vukmir's article also places the TERC curriculum in the context of the NCTM Standards and the NSF's sponsorship of constructivist mathematics curricula... [more] (PDF)

Kumon! A part-time Maths teacher reports from the newly emerging private sector in mass education, by Brian Micklethwait (Libertarian Alliance (UK), 1999). ... [more] (PDF). The author also maintains a Blog.

Standards-Based School Mathematics Curricula, by Wayne Bishop. A review of a book edited by Sharon L. Senk and Denisse R. Thompson. The title refers to the 1989 NCTM Standards. The review criticizes the research that is offered in support of these curricula, with special attention for the research base of the IMP curriculum... [more]

How Not to Teach Math, New York's chancellor Klein's plan doesn't compute, by Matthew Clavel (City Journal, March 7, 2003). The author describes his experience as a Teach for America volunteer in a Bronx classroom, forced to use the Everyday Mathematics curriculum against his and his fellow teachers' best judgement. Clavel takes issue with the program's over-emphasis on cooperative learning; its placement of "critical thinking" skills before basic knowledge; the haphazard, spiraling, movement between topics; the sudden jumps to advanced topics for which students have not been prepared; misguided homework assignments; and an over-reliance on calculators... [more]

Open Letter to Chancellor Joel I. Klein and Deputy Chancellor Diana Lam, by parent members of New York City HOLD (Dec 2002). Asks for an alternative to NCTM Standards-based "constructivist" mathematics programs... [more]

Panel to Examine Standards-Based Math Curricula, by David J. Hoff (EdWeek, June 12, 2002). Reports the start of an NAS/NRC study on the effectiveness of NSF-Supported mathematics curriculum materials. The study is headed by Jere Confrey and Douglas Grouws, and is due to report in March, 2003... [more]

Math the Saxon Way Is Catching On, by David J. Hoff (EdWeek, May 1, 2002)... [more]

To Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Education, by Wayne Bishop (April 10, 2002). Advises against extending reform mathematics curricula (specifically Core-Plus and IMP) into middle and high school. Also provides a very critical look at some of the research cited in support of the Everyday Mathematics curriculum in Pittsburgh elementary schools, and recommends the examples of the Kelso, Bennnet-Kew, and Hudnall schools in Inglewood, CA... [more]

Letter to Ms Colaizzi and the Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Education, by Wayne Bishop (March 12, 2002). About mathematics programs in Pittsburgh, with special attention for Everyday Math and IMP, and about the folly of conforming to the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA)... [more]

A Daring Choice for a Mathematics Textbook, by Jay Mathews (WP, Dec 18, 2001). "Even five years after his death, mathematics textbook publisher John Saxon still drives educators crazy." Mathews describes how these books are highly successful and at the same time widely resisted by educators... [more]

If it isn't broken..., by Debra Saunders (SF Chronicle, May 3, 2001). The Saxon mathematics program has shown spectacular success in LAUSD elementary schools. But, writes Saunders, in Edu-Land nothing sinks curriculum as quickly as success, and the Board of LAUSD voted to withdraw support for Saxon... [more]

Math and Science Content Topics

Electricians Need Algebra, Too, by Richard O. Hill (Mathematics Teacher, Sep 2002). The article describes the mathematical needs of electricians with reference to instructional materials from the industry. Algebra is the key... [more] (PDF).

How to Prepare Students for Algebra, by H. Wu (AE, Summer 2001). About the teaching of fractions as a preparation for algebra... [more] (PDF)

The Role of Long Division in the K-12 Curriculum, by David Klein and R. James Milgram (Feb 2000). Reviews and criticizes the reasons that most educators today depreciate the topic, and discusses how long division can be taugh so as to be understood by students... [more] (PDF)

News and Views

A School Science Fair: What Are The Kids Learning?, by Kevin Killion (IL, Dec 2002). About scientific method and hypothesis testing in the school curriculum and the Fair. The author sees too much science appreciation, too little science, and would prefer a "science expo" in which children report on a study of some area of science that they found interesting... [more]

Algebra Poses a Problem of Timing and Algebra = X in One School, Y in Another, by Jay Mathews (WP, Aug 18/19, 2002). Two articles about teaching Algebra in Eight Grade. The first article reports that the notion is gaining popularity; the second article reports that it often means "make believe" algebra... [more]... [more]

A Plea in Defense of Euclidean Geometry, by Barry Simon (LAT, 980206). "While the geometric intuition that comes from the classical high school geometry course is significant, what is really important is the exposure to clear and rigorous arguments"... [more]

Math and Science Assessments

Testimony on the Draft 2004 Mathematics Framework (for NAEP), by John Hoven on behalf of the Center for Education Reform (Sep 24, 2001). Hoven finds that the "hard" 8th grade NAEP problems are at a level similar to Singapore's grade 5... [more] (PDF). Tom Loveless and Alan Siegel also testified... [more]... [more]

What Students Abroad Are Expected to Know About Mathematics, from the American Federation of Teachers (2001). The AFT looks at exams from France, Germany and Japan... [more]

The Rote Stuff, by Brett Schaeffer (EdW, March 2003). Describes favorable class reception of a three-minute individualized Mathematics test for grade school. The test forms are scored using software that reads handwriting. Ed school outsiders deride the procedure as drill and kill... [more]

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BJB Essays and Letters

(Blown Up Version Here)

Chancellor Joel I. Klein's "Children First" New Standard Curriculum for NYC Public Schools (Ongoing). News and commentary on the Children First "New Agenda" and its Blueprint for Reform, with a focus on mathematics instruction. Includes documentation of the efforts of New York City HOLD to influence Children First for the better... [more]

Contributions to the Children First Initiative and New Standard Curriculum for NYC Public Schools (Ongoing). Collected BJB essays and letters concerning the Children First process and outcome... [more]

Predictions for Chancellor Joel Klein's Children First Initiative (Nov 26, 2002). My main prediction is that in January, 2003, as he announces the results of the first phase of Children First, Chancellor Klein will lock himself into a curriculum reform driven by the ideologies of balanced whole language instruction, NCTM-style constructivist mathematics, and continued bilingual education for English language learners. The lock will last for the remainder of his tenure... [more]

[2002/09] Volk und Wissen / Kamp: Mathematik Plus. Content summaries and reviews of Grades 5-9 of a textbook series for German Gymnasium. My assessment is that the series starts off with high expectations for the students in Grade 5, but it loses momentum in the higher Grades and the level at the end of Grade 9 is quite disappointing.

[2002/07b] Shelley Harwayne and mathematics. Shelley Harwayne is Superintendent of New York City Community School District 2. Earlier she was the founding principal of the Manhattan New School. Ms. Harwayne is a nationally recognized personality in the area of language and literacy teaching, and also wrote some words about mathematics education.

* [2002/07a] Mathematics in the OECD PISA Assessment. The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment was developed by an international team of people prominent in educational research and reform. The test appears to have been heavily influenced by philosophies of authentic assessment and realistic mathematics education, and offers a valuable perspective on the philosophy and politics of this international mathematics education community.

[2002/06b] A Letter to the Editor of de Volkskrant. (In Dutch.) The occasion for this Letter to the Editor was a piece about the strange difference between the performance of Dutch and of German pupils on international comparison exams (i.e., PISA). I don't think it strange at all.

[2002/06a] Educational trends in the USA and the Netherlands. Two letters to Dutch friends, colleagues, and other interested parties. The first is from May, 2002. Elections were being held on May 15, and a week before the elections Pim Fortuyn, leader of a new party, was assassinated. The second letter was written a few weeks later. Both are to be read in the context of the formation of a new government following the elections. (In Dutch.)

[2002/03b] Thoughts on the Federal role in education research, written in capsule form for the benefit of the NYC HOLD and Kto15 groups.

[2002/03a] Notes on the Math and Science Partnership legislation. These notes are from March, 2002, as the MSP legislation was working its way through the United States Congress. They were written for colleagues and interested parties in government.

[2002/02] Learning and Understanding: The NAS/NRC study of AP-IB Programs. Notes on a National Research Council study of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs. The study is "Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in US High Schools", by the Committee on Programs for Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in American High Schools (Jerry P. Gollub, Meryl W. Bertenthal, Jay B. Labov, and Philip C. Curtis Jr., eds.).

[2002/01c] For the adoption of California's new Science Framework. This letter was sent on 02/01/29 to Mr. Reed Hastings, and later to other members of the California State Board of Education, to urge adoption of California's new Science Framework. The framework was adopted in a meeting in early February.

[2002/01b] A letter to the NYC Board of Education urging them to forego $9M in Federal moneys supporting constructivist Math Ed reform. The Board decided to take the money.

[2002/01a] OECD PISA: Programme for International Student Assessment. Remarks about the content and philosophy of this successor or competitor to TIMSS. The results of the first OECD/PISA study were released in December, 2001. There was lots of reporting in the press around that time, in the United States and also in Europe. This is a condensation of three postings that I contributed on Jan 3, 2002, to the NYC HOLD and Kto15 mailing lists.

[2001/12b] A Letter to Mr. Dennis Walcott, NYC Deputy Mayor for Policy (Designate). With the new Bloomberg administration coming in on January 1, 2002, I thought it would be useful to offer the incoming Deputy Mayor for Policy, whose responsibilities include Education, some quiet advice.

[2001/12a] A letter to the NYC Board of Education opposing a resolution to establish a new academically oriented Upper East Side High School. I argue that the school as envisaged in the resolution will not offers a challenging college preparatory curriculum and a strong academic content focus.

[2001/08] Standard Algorithms for Mental Arithmetic. A short note about the existence and the importance of such algorithms. This was a contribution to a discussion on the Kto15 list in August, 2001.

* [2001/06] NSES The National Science Education Standards. Two letters to the Committee on Education of the American Physical Society offering a critique of the NSES. In the first letter I asked the members of this APS committee to take a public stance against these standards for their extreme focus on inquiry at the expense of content. Following a detailed reply by two of the addressees, a second letter clarified some points of disagreement.

[2001/04b] Experimenting with Students? My side of an email exchange with Eric Hanushek occasioned by his essay of that title. Professor Hanushek was at that time member of an NAS/NRC Committee on Scientific Principles of Education Research, and my correspondence (cc'ed to other members of the committee) was also an attempt to influence the efforts of that group. The attempt was unsuccessful, as became apparent when the committee's report "Scientific Research in Education" was published (National Academy Press, 2002).

* [2001/04a] Mathematics Education Research. The essay reflects some long evenings spent in the Mathematics Education section of the NYU main library.

[2001/01] Report on a visit to the Freudenthal Institute. Over the Christmas holidays 2000/2001 I was in the Netherlands and visited the Freudenthal Institute, the home place of Realistic Mathematics Education. These are my impressions. Also in Dutch.

All writings (c) 2001+ Bas Braams. In general these writings were prepared as plain text email, and very limited HTML formatting was added later.

Math and Science International

See also: Sauver les Maths (FRA) # Michel Delord (FRA).

You do the Math!, by Aviva Lori (Ha'aretz, 030226). A reminder of the abysmal level of mathematics instruction in Israeli schools and an update on the efforts of Ron Aharoni, Ehud DeShalit, David Garbasz, a.o., now organized in the Israeli Association for Excellence in Mathematics, to implement a Singapore Math pilot project... [more]

* Telling Lessons from the TIMSS Video Tape, by Alan Siegel (2002). A re-examination of the TIMSS videotape Japanese classroom studies, debunking some oft-cited work. "Part of the problem is that the teaching is remarkably rich. As a consequence, short summaries and even quotes from original sources sometimes fail to provide a balanced characterization of the actual lessons, and can even be just plain wrong"... [more] (PDF)

The Israeli Mathematics "Curriculum 2000", by Ralph Raimi with Lawrence Braden (May 25, 2002). The proposed curriculum is evaluated following the procedures that the authors applied previously in their Fordham Foundation reviews of US State standards. Curriculum 2000 gets slammed on Content and Reason, and receives a "D" overall... [more]. An unofficial translation of the curriculum is here.

Report on science education and the educational work environment, by Jean-Pierre Demailly (July 2001). A report to the government with much detailed and specific policy advice that serves also as a manifesto in the French math and science education wars. The report pleads especially for renewed diversification (parallel tracks) and raising of content quality in mathematics and science education... [more]. By the same author: Reclaiming a proper place for science education (Jan 2002)... [more] and Investigation into educational prerequisites for the teaching of science (Feb 2003)... [more] (PDF)

A comparison of NAEP, TIMSS-R, and PISA, by David Nohara (NCES WP, June 2001). A comparative description in terms of content, response type, context, and requirement for multi-step reasoning of the science and mathematics portions of the three tests... [more] (Lacking, unfortunately, a much needed comparison with curricular standards -BJB)

Naar de Knoppen, by Frans Keune (1998). An inaugural lecture at Nijmegen describing the declining quality of mathematics instruction in the Netherlands. (In Dutch)... [more]

News and Views

Teachers' textbook to challenge curriculum (Daily Yomiuri, 030126). A news item about a Japanese teachers' initiative as the content of the national middle school science textbooks has been reduced in scope... [more]

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Articles, Etc... Other Issues in Education

Policy and General

See also: Thomas B. Fordham Foundation # PRI Center for School Reform # Center for Education Reform.

Gender Fairness, at IllinoisLoop.Org (ongoing). An annotated bibliography in support of the claim that progressivist education, while hurtful to all, is especially damaging to boys... [more]

Report Card on American Education, a State by State Analysis, 1976-2001, by the American Legislative Exchange Council (Oct 2002). A comprehensive look at the state of public education across the USA. ALEC insists that there is no evident correlation between educational performance and teacher salaries or expenditures per pupil... [more] (PDF)

A Ten-Point Agenda for Improving Education in California, by Lance T. Izumi (PRI, June 2002). Reform the State's accountability system; implement the school choice accountability option; adopt value-added testing; introduce merit pay; establish teacher testing; ensure that proven teaching methods and curriculum are used in schools; hold schools of education accountable; reform categorical programs; implement differential pay for teachers; reform collective bargaining... [more]

Public Education Reform in Texas: Comprehensive Progress Report. Based on a Lone Star Foundation conference in Austin, TX, Dec 7-8, 2000. Published contributions include Texas standards and standardized assessments, by Donna Garner [here]; Texas Mathematics Education In Transition, by Paul Clopton [here]; Curriculum Equity in the Classroom, by Manuel P. Berriozabal and Chris Patterson [here]; and other papers on curriculum, standards, assessment, teacher performance, and policy... [more]

A Nation Still At Risk: An Education Manifesto, by Jeanne Allen of the CER, among others (April 30, 1998). Addresses the continuing mediocrity in American education 15 years after the "A Nation at Risk" report. The manifesto calls for a renewal strategy based on standards, assessment, and accountability; and on pluralism, competition, and choice... [more]

The War Against Boys, by Christina Hoff Sommers (Atlantic Monthly, May 2000). "This we think we know: American schools favor boys and grind down girls. The truth is the very opposite. By virtually every measure, girls are thriving in school; it is boys who are the second sex." In four parts. Part 1 offers some educational statistics... [more]. Part 2 discusses the work of Carol Gilligan... [more]. Part 3 concerns the politics of the AAUW... [more]. Part 4 looks at the family environment... [more]. See also the ensuing letters and Sommers's reply... [more] and a (three-part) Salon interview with Sommers about Gilligan... [more]

How should we group to achieve excellence with equity?, by Bonnie Grossen (July 1996). "Ability grouping in America has become a loaded word. In response to inequities of the past associated with ability grouping, an emerging national agenda among nearly all reform constituencies is claiming that ability grouping is bad, it is racist, it must be eliminated." Grossen reviews the issue and argues for excellence with equity... [more]

News and Views

Why is Education So Hard to Reform?, by Chester E. Finn Jr. (The Gadfly, Jan 3, 2002). Nine reasons and associated recommendations: Need more local information about school quality; must hold schools accountable for academic outcomes; must hold individuals responsible for performance; need consumer choice; need competition among schools; need market principles in the personnel system; must get rid of fads; responsibility must be local; must expand school time for kids with social problems... [more]

Thomas Jefferson's Educational Plan, from Notes on the State of Virginia, 1782. Three years free basic education for all in reading, writing, and arithmetic; the furnishing to the wealthier part of the people convenient schools at which their children may be educated at their own expense; and a filter to rake the best geniuses from the rubbish, to be instructed at the public expense so far as the grammar schools go... [more]

How the [NYC] Mayor Should Fix the Schools, by Anthony P. Coles (City J., Summer 2002). Focus on a core curriculum; change the terms from teacher quantity to teacher quality; expand Charter options and encourage school choice; eliminate social promotion; dismantle the dual-language educational system; cut back on special education; create an accoutability system modeled on the NYPD's Compstat; create additional competitive schools at all levels. The author was Deputy Mayor in the Giuliani administration... [more]... [comment]

Successful Schools

They Have Overcome: High-Poverty, High-Performing Schools in California, by Lance Izumi with K. Gwynne Coburn and Matt Cox (PRI, Sep 2002). In the footsteps of the Heritage Foundation's "No Excuses" reports the Pacific Research Institute looks at eight high performing high poverty public elementary schools in California (four of them in Inglewood) and asks why they succeed. Components include scripted, phonics based reading instruction; strong academic content standards; teacher centered instruction; frequent assessment; and discipline... [more] (PDF)

No Excuses: Lessons from 21 High-Performing, High-Poverty Schools, by Samual Casey Carter (The Heritage Foundation, 2000). The report's condensed list of "best practices" deals with parental accountability; the hiring of teachers; regular standardized testing; focus on reading and mathematics; and good spending practices... [more] (PDF)

No Excuses: Seven Principals of Low-Income Schools Who Set the Standard for High Achievement, by Samual Casey Carter (The Heritage Foundation, 1999). The Heritage's 1999 award of the Salvatori Prize for American Citizenship went to principals Irwin Kurz (NY), Gregory Hodge (NY), Michael Feinberg (TX), David Levin (NY), Nancy Ichinaga (CA), Helen DeBerry (IL), Ernestine Sanders (MI)... [more] (PDF)

News and Views

A Classroom Crusade, by Darragh Johnson (WP, 021110). About the successful efforts of superintendent Eric Smith to raise achievement of "at risk" children. His strategy includes a rigorous common curriculum [email via Mike McKeown describes this to be Open Court for reading and Saxon for mathematics], frequent assessments, and quick extra help for students falling behind. In two parts and a discussion... [more]... [more]... [more]

School Choice

See also: School Choices # School Reformers # Milton & Rose Friedman Foundation # Black Alliance for Educational Options # Parents in Charge # Alliance for the Separation of School and State.

School Choice and School Competition: Evidence from the United States, by Caroline M. Hoxby (March 2003). The paper looks especially at vouchers in Milwaukee and charter schools in Michigan and Arizona. Hoxby concludes that student achievement generally rises when they attend voucher or charter schools, that public schools tend to respond constructively to competition, and that voucher and charter programs are particularly attractive to students that were performing poorly in their regular public schools... [more] (PDF). By the same author Introduction to the Economic Analysis of School Choice (2002)... [more] (PDF) and... [more]

Another Look at the New York City School Voucher Experiment, by Alan B. Krueger and Pei Zhu (Dec 2002). A reanalysis of Paul Peterson et al.'s data from a NYC voucher experiment. Krueger and Zhu find no significant beneficial effect on achievement for students that accept the voucher... [more] (PDF). Peterson and Howell respond... [more] (PDF)

Why Charter Schools? The Princeton Story, by Chiara R. Nappi (1999). "When parents in Princeton, New Jersey, became frustrated by the absence of clear standards of learning in their public schools, they first approached teachers and principals". That didn't go anywhere... [more]. The Princeton Charter School home page.

News and Views

The Shame of the AFT, by Chester E. Finn Jr. (The Gadfly, Jul 18, 2002). Review of the AFT report Do Charter Schools Measure Up? The Charter School Experiment After 10 Years. According to Finn the report "reeks of error, distortion and untruth about charter schools, how they're working, what effects they're having, what we know about them. It also reeks of politics and self-interest"... [more]

The War on Charter Schools, by Chester E. Finn Jr. (The Gadfly, April 18, 2002). The author supports the Charter movement, of course, but notes problems. "(a) too many feckless, inept authorizers [...]; (b) a small but visible group of greedy charter operators more interested in making a few bucks at state expense than running good schools for needy kids; and (c) ill-conceived state laws that starve charters of needed resources while not freeing them from enough of the red tape that binds conventional schools"... [more]

Class Size

Crowd Control, By Martin R. West and Ludger Woessmann (Ed Next, Summer 2003). A look at the class size issue using data from TIMSS. The authors find a clear beneficial effect of smaller classes in only 2 of 18 countries, and a questionable result or no effect in the remaining cases... [more] ... [more] (PDF)

Economic Considerations and Class Size, by Alan B. Krueger (NBER W8875, April 2002). A critique and re-analysis of a literature review by Eric Hanushek on the effect of class size on student achievement. Krueger finds a positive effect that outweighs the cost... [more] (PDF). Of related interest Would Smaller Classes Help Close the Black-White Achievement Gap?, by Alan B. Krueger and Diane M. Whitmore (March 2001). Their answer is yes... [more]

News and Views

Student Misbehavior Solves Classroom Size Mystery, summary of a paper by Edwar P. Lazear (QJE, Aug 2001). Argues that class size reduction is effective where discipline is low... [more]

Teacher Issues

(Teacher quality; teacher training; teacher certification)

See also: National Council on Teacher Quality # American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence # Teacher Quality Section at Fordham Foundation.

Can Education Schools be Saved, by J. E. Stone (AEI, June 9, 2003). Argues that the schools of ed "best policy" view of teaching is at odds with the public's educational priorities... [more]

National Teacher Certification: Advancing Quality or Perpetuating Mediocrity? by Robert Holland (LI, Dec 2002). Describes an emerging competition between: on the side of perpetuating mediocrity the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE); and on the side of advancing quality the new American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE)... [more]

Research on Teacher Preparation and Professional Development, by Grover J. Whitehurst (March, 2002). A conference presentation by the head of OERI. "The most important influence on individual differences in teacher effectiveness is teachers' general cognitive ability, followed by experience and content knowledge. Masters' degrees and accumulation of college credits have little effect, while specific coursework in the material to be taught is useful, particularly in more advanced subjects"... [more]

What Elementary Teachers Need to Know, by Core Knowledge Foundation (2002). A recommended set of college course outlines for teacher preparation. Subjects covered: Biology, Earth Science, Physics, Chemistry, Math I and II, US History I and II, World History I and II, Geography, Art History, Music, Composition and Grammar, British and World Literature, American Literature, Children's Literature, Teaching Reading... [more]. Downloads... [more] (PDF)

Teacher Quality, Edited by Lance T. Izumi and Williamson M. Evers (Hoover book online, 2002)... [more]. Among the contributions: Teacher Quality, by Eric A. Hanushek. Measurements of student achievement show that there are very important differences between teachers, yet these differences are not well captured by teacher measures such as qualifications or experience. Hanushek discusses policy implications of these findings... [more]. Teacher Quality and Equity in Educational Opportunity: Findings and Policy Implications, by June C. Rivers and William L. Sanders... [more]. Teacher Quality Accountability Systems: The View from Pennsylvania, by Eugene W. Hickok. ... [more]. Teacher Training and Pedagogical Methods, by J. E. Stone. "The pedagogical concepts in which teachers are indoctrinated [learner centered instruction] shape the education community's preference for schooling that is relatively ineffective and inefficient. Teachers are taught that it is more important to use stimulating and engaging practices than to use effective ones"... [more]. Teaching Methods, by Herbert J. Walberg. Walberg wants to see a longer school year, rigorous academic standards, direct and organized teaching, and larger amounts of serious academic homework that is reviewed and graded by teachers... [more] (all chapters in PDF)

Ed Schools in Crisis, by Martin Kozloff (Oct 2002). Examines the education establishment and the anti-establishment and provides a ten-point summary of the anti-establishment critique of ed schools. Kozloff sees a challenge to the credibility, legitimacy, and monopoly of education schools, and ultimately to their existence. He does not expect that ed schools will rise to the challenge... [more]. By the same author... [more] and... [more]

What Do Teachers Teach? A Survey of America's Fourth and Eighth Grade Teachers, by Christopher Barnes with a foreword by Chester Finn (MI Civic Report, Sep 2002). Teachers were asked about their teaching philosophies, their classroom teaching methods and practices, their academic expectations for their students, and their opinions on other issues of education policy... [more] (PDF)

The Value-Added Achievement Gains of NBPTS-Certified Teachers in Tennessee: A Brief Report, by J. E. Stone (ECA Brief, May 2002). No objectively measurable effect was found... [more]. This small study raised the ire of NCATE, and their objections were in turn reviewed by Chester Finn and others... [more]... [more]

Interpret with Caution: The First State Title II Reports on the Quality of Teacher Preparation, by the Education Trust (2002). The mentioned State Reports give the impression that concerns about teacher quality are overblown. The Education Trust finds, however, that much of the State reporting was inconsistent, incomplete, and utterly incomprehensible... [more] (PDF). Richard Innes writes that it looks worse... [more]

To Certify or Not to Certify: That is Not the Question, by Kathleen Madigan and Michael Poliakoff (NCTQ, Nov 28, 2001). Reviews a report by Kate Walsh for the Abell Foundation on teacher certification (cited below) and a rejoinder to that report by Linda Darling-Hammond. "We find it disturbing that Dr. Darling-Hammond has misrepresented the nature of the issues that the Abell Report addresses. We are yet more disturbed that in factual matters, even in her attempt to criticize scholarly errors in Ms. Walsh's report, Dr. Darling-Hammond allows her rhetoric to run away from accurate reporting of data and even documents"... [more]

Tear Down This Wall. The Case for a Radical Overhaul of Teacher Certification, by Frederick M. Hess (PPI, Nov 2001). The author would pose three basic requirements: hold a college degree, pass a subject test, and pass a background check. The article includes an overview and economic critique of present certification policies, and a brief look at alternative certification and NBPTS... [more]

Teacher Certification Reconsidered: Stumbling for Quality, by Kate Walsh (Abell Foundation, Oct 2001). The report finds that the academic research attempting to link teacher certification with student achievement is astonishingly deficient: selective in its citations; padded with misrepresented references; giving undue weight to non-reviewed studies; avoiding standardized achievement measures; and routinely violating principles of sound statistical analysis. The core recommendation of the report is to eliminate coursework requirements for teacher certification, in favor of much simpler and more flexible rules for entry... [more]. A critique from the education establishment was followed by a rejoinder by Walsh with Michael Podgursky... [more]

Improving Teacher Quality in Oklahoma: A Closer Look, by John E. Stone, George K. Cunningham, and Donald B. Crawford (OCPA, 2001). Interest not limited to OK. Oklahoma is relying on recommendations of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (NCTAF) for reform of its standards for teacher training, licensure, and certification. This article, in two parts, criticizes the politics and the educational philosophy of NCTAF and organizations it represents (NCATE, CCSSO, NBPTS, INTASC). The authors conclude that the adopted educational reforms will undermine efforts to improve student achievement... [more]

Facing the Classroom Challenge: Teacher Quality and Teacher Training in California's Schools of Education, by Lance T. Izumi with K. Gwynne Coburn (PRI, April 2001). Definitely of interest also outside CA, this report contains a good overview of teaching methods and philosophies. Singapore, Kumon, and Bennett-Kew are presented as models for reform... [more]

News and Views

Philosopher or King?, by Richard D. Kahlenberg (Ed Next, Summer 2003). Describes the ideas and strategy of AFT president Albert Shanker. Kahlenberg emphasizes Shanker's influence on teacher unionism, the standards movement, the choice movement, and the adoption of reforms to improve teacher quality... [more]

Paige Makes Teacher-Ed Hive Buzz, by Chester E. Finn Jr. (The Gadfly, Aug 15, 2002). A report by Secretary Paige, Meeting the Highly Qualified Teachers Challenge, offered, as Finn describes it, a searching discussion of the ways in which the current teacher preparation and licensure system is "broken" and the bold steps that, in the Secretary's view, must to be taken to rectify matters. The teacher-ed community did not swallow this well... [more]

Insubstantial Pageants, by Martin A. Kozloff (April 2001). Examination of several hundred ed school Web sites shows that one of their main activities is Impression Management: an elaborate staging of pretended scholarship, pretended democratic values, and pretended expertise. Kozloff compares it unfavorably to the illusory world of Prospero... [more]

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See also: Developing Educational Standards # California Content Standards # CA Curriculum Frameworks # MA Curriculum Frameworks # The State Of State Standards.

What is the Appropriate Role for Student Achievement Standards, by John H. Bishop (2002). Curriculum based external exit exam systems are common outside the United States, but within the United States only NY and NC have had such a system in place in the 1990's. The article looks at the impact of these systems on school policies, teaching, and learning... [more]. Discussion... [more]. Also by Bishop, A Steeper Road to a Better Graduation (Fraser Forum, Sep 2002). Part of a focus issue on education... [more] (all in PDF)

1999 Conference on Standards Based K-12 Education, held at CSU Northridge, May 21-22, 1999 (Proceedings). The conference brought together many of the people that had a direct role in creating California's recent content standards for language arts, mathematics, and science, and national leaders in education reform, to explain these standards and to consider practical issues to make them succeed... [more]

* A Field Guide to Low Academic Standards, by Chester E. Finn Jr. (The Gadfly, May 16, 2002). The No Child Left Behind Act provides carrots and sticks for States to meet academic performance standards that each State sets itself. Chester Finn anticipates how States may manipulate their standards and testing procedures in response to the perverse incentives of this legislation... [more]

To State School Chiefs on Implementing No Child Left Behind Act, a letter by Secretary Paige (Oct 23, 2002). States have been responding to the incentives of the NCLB act, and the Secretary is not amused. "Unfortunately, some states have lowered the bar of expectations to hide the low performance of their schools. And a few others are discussing how they can ratchet down their standards in order to remove schools from their lists of low performers. Sadly, a small number of persons have suggested reducing standards for defining `proficiency' in order to artificially present the facts. This is not worthy of a great country"... [more]

States Revise the Meaning Of 'Proficient', by David J. Hoff (Ed Week, Oct 9, 2002). Louisiana, Connecticut, and Colorado, a.o., respond to the incentives of the NCLB / ESEA legislation... [more]

News and Views

Education After the Culture Wars, by Diane Ravitch (Daedalus, Summer 2002). As a member of the National Assessment Governing Board the author has observed the effects of the lack of clear educational standards and of extreme sensitivity to possible bias, stereotyping, or incorrect choice of language in testing and in textbooks... [more]. Also comments by E. D. Hirsch and others... [more] (both in PDF)


The Tests We Need and Why We Don't Quite Have Them, by E.D. Hirsch Jr. (from EdW, Feb 2, 2000). "A main purpose of this essay is to explain why good curriculum-based tests, based on good content standards, are the surest and most democratic means of raising scores on competency-based tests and achieving real-world competencies"... [more]

Shopping for Evidence Against School Accountability, by Margaret E. Raymond and Eric A. Hanushek (Ed Next, Summer 2003). A critique of a study by Amrein and Berliner that, according to its accompanying press release, found that high-stakes tests may inhibit the academic achievement of students... [more] ... [more] (PDF)

The Promise of Value-Added Testing, by Jonathan Crane (PPI report, Nov 2002). NCLB requires testing in grades 3-8 in reading and mathematics. Crane argues that States should implement value added testing in this context in order to provide better measures of school performance, teacher quality, and effectiveness of school reform programs... [more] (PDF)

High Stakes in Chicago, by Brian Jacob (Educ. Next, Winter 2003/2002). Student performance on high-stakes tests increased following the introduction of Chicago's accountability system. This article raises questions and provides evidence that the gains were driven largely by increases in test-specific skills... [more]. Based on a draft report Accountability, Incentives and Behavior: The Impact of High-Stakes Testing in the Chicago Public Schools (May, 2002)... [more] (PDF)

The Cost of Accountability, by Caroline M. Hoxby (NBER, Oct 2002). Hoxby presents data to show that the cost of K-12 assessment programs in the United States generally is less that 0.25% of per-pupil spending, and in many states much less. Among her conclusions: "The federal government could very plausibly pay for a basic level of assessment in every state, thereby encouraging all states to craft accountability systems that suit them but still meet minimal guidelines (for example: testing at least reading and mathematics; testing at least one elementary, one middle, and one high school grade; using a national test in some grade to facilitate comparisons among states)"... [more]

Cheating to the Test, By Gregory Cizek (EdN, Spring 2001). Discusses cheating by educators in connection with the use of tests to assess the performance of teachers, schools, and educational systems... [more]

An Overview of the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS), by William L. Sanders and Sandra Horn (undated). An overview with answers to FAQs, written in support of the use of value added assessment in MD... [more]

Value-Added Assessment: An Accountability Revolution, by J. E. Stone. (In: Marci Kanstoroom and Chester E. Finn, Jr. (Eds.), Better Teachers, Better Schools. Fordham Foundation, 1999). An introduction to value-added assessment, focussing on the work of Sanders and Rivers in Tennessee... [more] (PDF)

Why Testing Experts Hate Testing, by Richard P. Phelps (Fordham Report, Jan 1999). "In addition to the alleged harms of 1) test score inflation, 2) curriculum narrowing, 3) emphasis on lower-order thinking, and 4) declining achievement, testing experts add a quartet of other arguments: 5) standardized tests hurt minorities and women, 6) the tests are too costly, 7) other countries don't test nearly as much as the U.S. does, and 8) parents, teachers and students in this country are all opposed to testing. These eight claims are examined in detail and a rebuttal is offered to each. The arguments are found to be irrelevant, misplaced, overly simplistic or untrue"... [more]. By the same author: Test Bashing. A 14-part series... [more]

Filling In the Blanks: Putting Standardized Tests to the Test, by Gregory J. Cizek (Fordham Report, Oct 1998). A primer on standardized testing. Identifies key terms and concepts, provides information about the most widely used standardized achievement tests, and discusses some controversies... [more] (PDF)

News and Views

Testy, Testy, by Debra Saunders (SFC, May 18, 2003). Five reasons why parents should favor standardized achievement tests and exit exams... [more]. By same author: Exit Ignorant (May 13, 2003)... [more]

Seeing Our Future, by Stanley Kurtz (NRO, Oct 7, 2002). Britain's A-level exams, writes Kurtz, are under political pressure for equality of outcome. The British are looking for a new kind of test that will simultaneously preserve standards and maximize opportunity for students from lesser schools. Ironically, they are looking at the American SAT at the same time as political pressure here is pushing the SAT to become more like an achievement test... [more]

College Admissions

Socioeconomic Status, Race/Ethnicity, and Selective College Admissions, by Anthony P. Carnevale and Stephen J. Rose (March, 2003). A study of the under representation of low-income students at selective colleges and of expected effects of various socioeconomic affirmative action policies... [more]

Preferences Versus Preparation, by Mat Cox (PRI, April 2002). The UC Regents have instituted a "Comprehensive Review" system for admissions, with new emphasis on student hardship. This report sees in it an attempt to reinstate racial preferences, a practice rejected by the Regents in 1996 and since banned by Proposition 209... [more] (PDF)

Testing and Diversity in Postsecondary Education: The Case of California, by Daniel Koretz, Michael Russel, Chingwei David Shin, Cathy Horn, and Kelly Shasby (EPA, Jan 7, 2002). Considers various approaches for admissions to the UC system and their effects on diversity and academic quality. "The only approach that substantially increased the representation of minority students was accepting most students on the basis of within-school rather than statewide rankings, and this approach caused a sizable drop in both the average SAT scores and the average GPA of admitted applicants, particularly among African American and Hispanic students"... [more]

News and Views

How I Learned to Love Quotas, By Jeffrey Rosen (NYT Mag, June 1, 2003). An admittedly unprincipled defense. "Because universities will take race into account regardless of what the court decides, the court should allow them to do so openly, in ways that won't destroy their admissions standards, rather than forcing them to lie, in ways that will harm society as a whole"... [more]

Getting In, by Dan Seligman (Commentary, Sep 2002). A review of the book The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College, by Jacques Steinberg, Viking Press, 2002. The review focusses on the working of affirmative action. "Steinberg's reporting allows us to see the elaborate dodges that Wesleyan has developed for defining `merit' down - that is, for finding that the low-scoring minority applicant is somehow more qualified than the white or Asian with a stellar SAT score"... [more]

Testing Debate: Standard praise for the new SAT, by Stanley Kurtz (NRO, Aug 21, 2002). A careful look at the debate over the recently announced changes in the SAT and the pressures from the UC Chancellor. Kurtz concludes that the College Board has caved in and eliminated an irreplaceable measure of academic ability... [more]

Debate Over the SAT Masks Perilous Trends in College Admissions, by Lee Bollinger (CHE, July 12, 2002). The President of Columbia University weighs in. While careful not to be controversial, he does distance himself from UC Chancellor Atkinson's position... [more]

The SAT Comes Full Circle, by Heather Mac Donald (CJ, 020506). In view of proposed changes in the SAT Mac Donald anticipates more racial special pleading and a resurrection of old arguments against content tests, but without aptitude tests being offered as the alternative... [more]

Admissions: Merit issues ignored by focusing on a person's "life challenges", by Duncan Lindsey and Lyle Bachman (UCLA Daily Bruin, Nov 5, 2001). Data about the the composition of the Life Challenges index and its role in UCLA admissions decisions... [more]


See also: Organization for Quality Education (CAN) # Sauver les Lettres (FRA) # Sauver les Maths (FRA) # Reconstruire l'école (FRA) # Association "Refaire L'Ecole" (CHE) # Campaign for Real Education (GBR) # Reading Reform Foundation (GBR)

Speaking in Tongues, by Aviva Lori (Haaretz Magazine, March 28, 2003). Describes broad concern over a decline in language skills, and ascribes it to a Whole Language approach for beginning reading, imported into Israel in the beginning 1980s... [more]

Private Education Provision and Public Finance: The Netherlands as a Possible Model, By Harry Patrinos (NCSPE OP59, Nov 2002). Describes school choice in the Netherlands... [more] (PDF)

Deltaplan voor het Middelbaar Onderwijs, by W. J. M. Levelt (June 11, 2002). An open letter from the president of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences calling for a comprehensive initiative to reverse the crisis in Dutch secondary education. Crucial issues include: restore the role of universities in teacher training; help teachers choose empirically justified effective practices; strengthen the role of abstract reasoning in higher secondary eduction; ensure appropriate content and level of the national final exams... [more] (PDF)

Two Speeches, by Chris Woodhead (ELC, Sep 29, 2001; CPS, Oct 15, 2001). The former UK Chief Inspector of Schools touches on the National Curriculum, the Office for Standards in Education, trends in the A- and O-level examinations; school choice, accountability, and competition; and the monopoly of anti-education ideas in the education establishment... [more] and... [more] (second article is in PDF). By the same author: The Standards of Today, and how to Raise them to the Standards of Tomorrow (ASI, 2002)... [more] (PDF)

Higher Education: An International Perspective, by Richard P. Phelps, Greta L. Dietrich, Gabriele Phillips, and Kevin A. McCormack (2000). A comparative review of higher education systems. The review focusses on Best Practices in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States... [more]

Education in Singapore, by Chester E. Finn Jr. (Feb 2002). Why does this small country keep coming in at the top on international tests of student achievement, at least in science and mathematics? Article in two parts... [more]... [more]

OECD PISA: An example of Stochastic Illiteracy?, by Elart von Collani (Econ. Quality Control, 2001). An economic statistician wades through the PISA documents in an attempt to assess the quality of that OECD study from a statistical point of view. He concludes that the study is so poorly documented that it does not allow a meaningful comparison between the educational systems of different countries... [more] (PDF)

News and Views

Educating Iraq, by Chester E. Finn, Jr. (NY Sun, May 1, 2003). About rebuilding the Iraqi education system. Finn notes that a relevant federal RFP asked for bidders that would promote child-centered, inquiry-based, participatory teaching methods... [more]. Of related interest: Religious Study Confronts U.S. in Iraq, by Mary Ann Zehr (EdW, June 11, 2003)... [more]

Where Did We Go Wrong?, by Sheri Makover (Maariv, 021213). The article looks at the extreme decline in the quality of Israeli education, which Makover attributes to problems of teacher status and discipline and to the failure of teaching programs. She describes the failure of the "Language as Composite" method for beginning reading and of the "Pattern" method for K-8 mathematics. The article discusses education politics as well as teaching programs... [more]

Schools, Ten Reforms That Can Change Everything, by Natacha Polony (Marianne, 021021-27). For France, in French, but most of the points look familiar enough. Restore teacher authority; reform the teaching of reading; teach subjects and content; reinstate retention; establish parallel tracks in the collège; value vocational study; create a system of financial support; award national diplomas; make university admissions selective per department; shut down the schools of education... [more]

Onderwijsmanifest, by A. van Aken - van de Leur, B. G. J. Spanjer and H. P. Barendregt a.o (June 27, 2002). An appeal to the Dutch Government to restore rigor to the high school exit exams... [more] (PDF)

Education Research

See also: Education Research section at IllinoisLoop.Org

* Address to California State Board of Education, by E. D. Hirsch, Jr. (April 10, 1997). CA law requires education policy to be research-based. But, writes Hirsch: "I don't know of a single failed educational policy, ranging from the naturalistic teaching of reading, to the open classroom, to the teaching of abstract set theory in third-grade math that has not been research-based"... [more]

Buyers and Sellers of Education Research, by J. E. Stone (Chronicle, June 6, 2003). "For investors, buying shares in Enron turned out to be a bad choice. People who should have been giving investors accurate information about the company misled them instead, chiefly because of conflicts of interest. For federal, state, and local policy makers, investing in education has had equally dismal results for essentially the same reason"... [more]

Construction of District 2's Exemplary Status - When Research and Public Policy Elide, by Lois Weiner (AERA Mtg, 2002). About Richard Elmore's research on Manhattan's District 2. Weiner argues that pressure to show successful urban school reform has resulted in research stripped of critique... [more]. By the same author Standardization's Stifling Impact... [more]

Classroom Research and Cargo Cults, by E. D. Hirsch Jr. (Policy Review, Oct 2002). The author attributes the frequent irrelevance of education research to an a-theoretical tradition, and suggests that general cognitive principles tend to be more dependable than maxims from classroom research. These cognitive principles include: that prior knowledge is a prerequisite to effective learning; that learning is helped by meaningful association; that learning requires a mix of generalization and example; that rehearsal is usually necessary for retention; that automaticity is essential to higher skills; and that implicit instruction of beginners is usually less effective... [more]

Why Education Experts Resist Effective Practices, by Douglas Carnine (2000). "In other professions, such as medicine, scientific research is taken seriously, because it usually brings clarity and progress... Yet so much of what passes for education research serves to confuse at least as much as it clarifies"... [more]

What was that Project Follow Through? A focus issue of Effective School Practices (Winter 1995-96) with articles by Grossen, Bereiter, Becker and Engelmann, and others... [more]

News and Views

The rigor of scientifically based research with doctored data could be mortis, by Richard Phelps. Argues that dishonesty and self-censorship are rife in education research, and that recent federal research initiatives neglect to address the problem... [more]

Time to Save Federal Education Data, by Diane Ravitch and Chester E. Finn Jr. (EdWeek, July 10, 2002). A Bill, HR 3801, to overhaul OERI puts the independence of the National Center for Education Statistics and the National Assessment Governing Board in jeopardy... [more]

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Philosophies of Education

See also: Core Knowledge Foundation # William Bennett's K12 # Hillsdale Academy # Methods section at IllinoisLoop.Org.

Different Strokes for Different Folks, a Critique of Learning Styles, by Steven A. Stahl (AE, Fall 1999). Looks at the research concerning learner preferences (global vs. analytical or visual vs. auditory) and reading instruction. "The reason researchers roll their eyes at learning styles is the utter failure to find that assessing children's learning styles and matching to instructional methods has any effect on their learning"... [more] (PDF)

Multiple Intelligences, at IllinoisLoop.Org (ongoing). An annotated collection of links on MI. According to the authors: "The real problems with this fad are the utter lack of any suggestion as to how such supposed `learning styles' might be identified or assessed, or how any of this would translate into effective teaching practices"... [more]

The Roots of the Education Wars, by E. D. Hirsch, Jr. (Educ. Matters, Spring 2001). About the chasm between progressive, romantic educational ideas and the classical approach to teaching reading and mathematics... [more]. An abridgement was published as Romancing the Child... [more]. By the same author... [more]

Why Traditional Education Is More Progressive, by E. D. Hirsch, Jr (AE, 1997). "Gramsci saw that it was a serious error to discredit learning methods like phonics and memorization of the multiplication table as `outdated' or `conservative.' That was the nub of the standoff between himself and another prominent educational theorist of the political Left, Paulo Freire. [...] History has proved Gramsci a better prophet than Freire"... [more]

Developmentalism: An Obscure but Pervasive Restriction on Educational Improvement, by J. E. Stone (EPAA, April 1996). "[Developmentalism's] notable exponents include Jean Jacques Rousseau, John Dewey, and Jean Piaget; and its most recent expressions include `developmentally appropriate practice' and `constructivism.' In the years during which it gained ascendance, developmentalism served as a basis for rejecting harsh and inhumane teaching methods. Today it impedes efforts to hold schools accountable for student academic achievement"... [more]

Applications and Misapplications of Cognitive Psychology to Mathematics Education, by John R. Anderson, Lynne M. Reder, and Herbert A. Simon (1995?). A critical look at situated learning and constructivism. "Situated learning commonly advocates practices that lead to overly specific learning outcomes while constructivism advocates very inefficient learning and assessment procedures"... [more]

Progressivism's Hidden Failure, By Louisa C. Spencer (2001). "For the past four years, I have been a volunteer tutor in grades 1-4 of a K-5 public elementary school in New York City's Community School District 2"... [more]

Nurturing the Life of Mind, by Kathleen Vail (ASBJ, Jan 2001). "The idea that children must be entertained and feel good while they learn has been embraced by many well-meaning educators. In many classrooms, as a result, students are watching movies, working on multimedia presentations, surfing the Internet, putting on plays, and dissecting popular song lyrics. The idea is to motivate students, but the emphasis on enjoyment as a facile substitute for engagement creates a culture in which students are not likely to challenge themselves or stretch their abilities"... [more]

The Computer Delusion, by Todd Oppenheimer (1997). "There is no good evidence that most uses of computers significantly improve teaching and learning, yet school districts are cutting programs - music, art, physical education - that enrich children's lives to make room for this dubious nostrum"... [more]

News and Views

Jerome Bruner, The Process of Education, by Ralph A. Raimi (Feb 2003). Review of a 1962 book. In Raimi's words (in email): "The book can be taken as an argument for 'discovery learning', for the teaching of mathematical structures a la newmath, for having a live teacher in the classroom and ignoring 'teaching aids' such as films and computers, for memorizing things, for testing, against testing, etc. I believe everyone will find it wise, and think to agree with all of it, and come away as divided from its other readers as they were before reading it. Yet - I would ask the present-day reader if he thinks there is anything newer than this in psychology to help us who are interested in math education?"... [more]

Why Study when You Can Surf, by John Clare (Telegraph, UK, 030205). The author tests the claim that computers raise standards by visiting a successful school. Admittedly anecdotal... [more]

Waiting for Utopia, by David W. Murray (Education Next, Summer 2002). About Richard Rothstein's weekly Lessons education column in the New York Times (which ended later that year). "First, his writings display a factual carelessness, suggesting that details hardly matter if one possesses a higher truth. Second, nearly every engagement with issues of schooling, testing, standards, and teaching becomes an occasion to reassert the primacy of the economic factor"... [more]

Other Opiates. What Kids Know, by Mark Goldblatt (NRO, 020903). Who wrote the words "religion is the opiate of the masses"? Goldblatt describes his classroom's reaction and observes that not only do his students not know what they should know; they also think they know much more than they actually do know... [more]

Isn't That Interesting!, by Ron Rude (EdWeek, 010808). Argues that pragmatism rather than idealism should drive educational policy. "[P]ersonal interest, while certainly a valuable motivating force for any of us, is nevertheless too capricious, too easily warped into selfishness, to be a foundational plank of something with the scope and breadth of a public education system, or its individual schools"... [more]

When Progressiveness leads to Backwardness, by Amity Schlaes (Hoover Digest, from FT, Oct 23, 2000). About the Summerhill culture in Britain and the United States. "The staggering number of undereducated teenagers graduating from U.S. high schools every year is a national tragedy - and an object lesson in the damage that misguided educational fads can wreak"... [more]

Reading and Language

See also: National Right to Read Foundation # National Reading Panel # Reading section at IllinoisLoop.Org # Greenwood Institute.

* Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching Children to Read (April 2000). On the basis of a massive review of available research the panel determined that effective reading instruction includes teaching children to break apart and manipulate the sounds in words (phonemic awareness), teaching them that these sounds are represented by letters of the alphabet which can then be blended together to form words (phonics), having them practice what they've learned by reading aloud with guidance and feedback (guided oral reading), and applying reading comprehension strategies to guide and improve reading comprehension. The panel's report is a call for explicit reading instruction as opposed to a view of reading as learned by natural assimilation... [more]

* Whole Language Lives On, by Louisa Cook Moats (2000). "What's going on in many places in the name of `balance' or `consensus' is that the worst practices of whole language are persisting, continuing to inflict boundless harm on young children who need to learn to read. How and why that is happening-and how and why such practices are misguided and harmful-are what this report is about"... [more]

* Blackboard Bungle: Why California Kids Can't Read, by Jill Stewart (LA Weekly, March 1996). Describes the rise of Whole Language in California's classrooms and its disastrous effect on learning. "How California got itself into such a quagmire, and how the state is now struggling to pull out of it, is a cautionary study in the pitfalls of untested mass innovation." In two parts... [more]

Reading Comprehension Requires Knowledge - of Words and the World, by E. D. Hirsch (AE, Spring 2003). About the "fourth grade slump" in scores on reading comprehension. Hirsch acknowledges the importance of fluency and of vocabulary, but sees too much emphasis on the teaching of formal comprehension strategies and too little teaching of core knowledge. A sidebar contribution, Basal Readers: The Lost Opportunity To Build the Knowledge that Propels Comprehension, by Kate Walsh, amplifies this point... [more] (PDF)

The Keys to Literacy, by Susannah Patton and Madelyn Holmes, editors (CBE, Dec 2002). A report composed of articles by distinguished authors and covering reading research (G. Reid Lyon), development of pre-reading skills (Grover J. Whitehurst), teacher training (Louisa C. Moats), basic reading instruction (Barbara R. Foorman, Jack M. Fletcher, and David J. Francis), and development of reading comprehension (Isabel L. Beck and Margaret G. McKeown)... [more]

Selection of a Systematic Phonics Program for NYC Students, by Linnea Ehri, Bruce McCandliss, Dolores Perin, Hollis Scarborough, Sally Shaywitz, Joanna Williams, and Joanna Uhry (Feb 4, 2003). A letter to Chancellor Klein and Deputy Chancellor Lam, a.o., about the selection of the Month by Month Phonics program for reading instruction in New York City. "As you will see by our analysis, the program is woefully inadequate for many reasons. It lacks the ingredients of a systematic phonics program. It places an unrealistic burden on teachers for making decisions about designing lesson materials, and it does not provide teachers with any useful guidance for helping students who fall behind. It does not give teachers a research-based framework for understanding the activities they are told to use and why they are useful. Because it lacks a research base, it is not likely to qualify for federal funding. Most importantly, it puts beginning readers at risk of failure in learning to read"... [more]

Putting Reading First, a focus issue of SEDL Letter (Dec 2002). Includes Ten Myths of Reading Instruction, by Sebastian Wren; The Importance of Phonemic Awareness in Learning to Read, by Wesley A. Hoover; and several articles from the classroom... [more]

Shifting Images of Developmentally Appropriate Practice as Seen Through Different Lenses, by David K. Dickinson (AERA ER, Jan 2002). The article documents a wide gap between currently accepted best practices for early literacy development (e.g., Report of the National Reading Panel) and the program accreditation criteria relevant to Head Start, which continue to reflect an earlier set of beliefs with respect to learning... [more]

Measuring Success: Using Assessments and Accountability to Raise Student Achievement, by G. Reid Lyon (March 8, 2001). Testimony before a House subcommittee on education reform. Dr. Lyon stresses that children at-risk for reading failure need to be identified early and provided with systematic, explicit, and intensive instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, reading fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension strategies; they are not served by approaches that emphasize incidental learning of basic reading skills... [more]

The Diogenes Factor, by Herbert J. Walberg and Rebecca C. Greenberg (EdW, 980408). Looks at evaluations of the Success For All reading program as a prime example of conflict of interest and dishonest reporting in federally funded education research... [more]. See also

News and Views

* The "Crayola Curriculum", by Mike Schmoker (EdW, 011024). In his classroom visits the author has observed a pattern in early reading instruction. "Students were not reading, they weren't writing about what they had read, they weren't learning the alphabet or its corresponding sounds; they weren't learning words or sentences or how to read short texts. They were coloring. Coloring on a scale unimaginable to us before these classroom tours"... [more]

Why Johnny Won't Read, by Jon Scieszka (WP, 020602). Having worked through required readings of E. B. White's Charlotte's Web, Alice Walker's The Color Purple, Michael Dorris's Yellow Raft in Blue Water and Toni Morrison's Sula, Johnny is convinced that reading is for girls. Jon sympathises and offers some suggestions... [more]

Success for Some, by Jay Mathews (WP, July 21, 2002). On the (Slavin) Success for All program and criticism of same... [more]

The Failure of Politics and the Pull of Freedom. Reflections on the Work of the Reading Reform Foundation, by Brian Micklethwait (Libertarian Alliance (UK), 2002). On the persistence of "look and say" reading instruction in British schools and the efforts of the RRF combatting same. Note esp. Micklethwait's speculations under "Perpetuating Folly" about what drives DfES policy... [more] (PDF)

The "Crayola Curriculum" Takes Over, by Donna Harrington-Lueker (USA Today, 020916). About the introduction of children's picture books and associated coloring activities in the high school curriculum... [more]. This short op-ed provoked a past president of the NCTE into an enthousiastic defence of the practice... [more]

Whole Language at the Fork in the Road, by Cathy Froggatt (NRRF, Feb 1998). In which the founders of Whole Language must choose between Paradise and Perdition without context clues... [more]

Bilingual Ed and ELL

See also: English For the Children # The READ Institute.

Bilingual Education in New York City: Poor Accountability, Worse Progress, by Don Soifer (LI, Oct 2002). On the basis of analysis of grant documents from 58 NYC bilingual education programs Soifer concludes that: accountability is very poor; what indicators there are demonstrate very poor progress towards English fluency; and the programs often emphasize workshops and planning at the expense of students' academic progress... [more]. See also Federal Bilingual Education Programs in Massachusetts: `But Do They Help the Children?', by the same author (LI, Sep 2001)... [more]

Teaching Language Minorities: Theory and Reality, by Christine H. Rossell (in Diane Ravitch and Joseph P. Viteritti, Eds., Lessons from New York City Schools, JHUP 2000). Describes the wide range of instructional programs for LEP students, and related law, regulations, and history. Rossell takes particular aim at the reclassification procedures, which are such as to guarantee that a substantial fraction of students will inappropriately remain in LEP classrooms... [more]

The Benefits of English Immersion, by Rosalie Pedalino Porter (Ed Leadership, Dec 1999). Porter applauds California's Proposition 227 "English for the Children". She stresses the need for accountability for student progress as the measure of program effectiveness... [more]

Learning English, by Joseph M. Guzman (Educ. Next, Fall 2002). Report on a study of outcomes of bilingual and immersion ESL instruction. It is found that there are substantial benefits to being raised in a bilingual household, but at school a rapid transition to English should be made. Bilingual education delays the transition to English and is an invitation to low academic performance and limited economic opportunities... [more]

Dismantling Bilingual Education, Implementing English Immersion: the California Initiative, by Christine Rossell (Rev. Aug 2002). A report on the implementation and the effects of Proposition 227 (1998), which was intended to replace bilingual education with an immersion approach... [more] (PDF)

Born in the U.S.A., by Mary Ann Zehr (EdWeek, Sep 4, 2002). About the continuing practice of long-term bilingual education in LAUSD. One pair of numbers from the article: of the 1,200 English language learners in Belvedere Middle School, 900 have had the label for at least seven years... [more]

News and Views

The Importance of English Immersion, by Linda Chavez (CBS, Oct 2, 2002). Pat Stryker, a billionaire heiress is spending millions to defeat a CO ballot initiative that would replace bilingual programs with English immersion for Spanish speaking students. Chavez offers a contemptuous explanation... [more]

Special Education

IDEA: Focusing on Improving Results for Children with Disabilities. Testimony of Douglas Carnine before a House Subcommittee on Education Reform (March 13, 2003). Presents and argues for a Response to Intervention model for identifying specific learning disabilities, rather than the presently used IQ - achievement discrepency model... [more]

Effects of Funding Incentives on Special Education Enrollment, by Jay P. Greene and Greg Forster (MICR, Dec 2002). The report looks at policies in the 50+1 States to explain the continuing increase in special education enrollment. It finds that funding systems have a dramatic effect on special education enrollment, while high-stakes testing has no significant effect... [more]

Rethinking Special Education for a New Century, edited by Chester E. Finn, Jr., Andrew J. Rotherham, and Charles R. Hokanson, Jr. (FF/PPI, May 2001). The editors conclude that special education is broken and IDEA is much to blame. The Learning Disabilities category frequently masks a failure in the teaching of beginning reading. The law creates perverse financial incentives for districts and schools, and also for parents through the legal system. Recommendations include to reform IDEA as an education program guided by standards and judged by results; and a stronger focus on on prevention and early intervention... [more]

Rethinking Learning Disabilities, by G. Reid Lyon, Jack M. Fletcher, et al. (May 2001; part of an FF/PPI Report). Argues that LD definitions are seriously flawed and result in large numbers of LD identifications in late elementary to middle school years, when remediation is less effective. For reading difficulties the authors recommend identification and intervention starting in Kindergarten... [more]

Time to Make Special Education "Special" Again, by Wade F. Horn and Douglas Tynan (May 2001; part of an FF/PPI Report). "[Unintended negative consequences of IDEA] include the creation of incentives to define an ever-increasing percentage of school-aged children as having disabilities, an enormous re-direction of financial resources from regular education to special education, and, perhaps most importantly, the application of an accommodation philosophy to populations better served with prevention or intervention strategies"... [more].

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Recommended Books

Policy and General

* E. D. Hirsch Jr., The Schools We Need - And Why We Don't Have Them (Doubleday, New York, 1996). Covers a very wide range: educational philosophies, especially the American progressive movement; the importance of core knowledge; educational research and cognitive science; and standards and testing. Argues for the common school for the common good. [excerpt].

* Sandra Stotsky (Ed.), What's at Stake in the K-12 Standards Wars: A Primer for Educational Policy Makers (Peter Lang, New York, 2000). Contributors include friends and colleagues Hung-Hsi Wu, Ralph A. Raimi, Paul Clopton, Wayne Bishop, David Klein, Stan Metzenberg, Alan Cromer, Paul R. Gross, Michael McKeown, and Chris Patterson.

* Jeanne S. Chall, The Academic Achievement Challenge: What Really Works in the Classroom? (Guilford Press, New York, 2000). Describes educational reforms over the past century and reviews research comparing teacher centered and student centered approaches.

Diane Ravitch, Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reform (Simon and Schuster, New York, 2000). Describes the dreams and visions of the romantic US school reform movements of the past century and recounts their failures. I would have liked to see a concluding chapter "lessons learned".

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Math and Science

Alan Cromer, Connected Knowledge: Science, Philosophy, and Education (Oxford UP, New York, 1997).

Morris Kline, Why Johnny Can't Add: The Failure of the New Math (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1973). The classic indictment of the "New Math" in the classrooms of the 1960's.

Mary P. Dolciani with Edwin F. Beckenbach, Alfred J. Donnelly, Ray C. Jurgensen, and William Wooton, Modern Introductory Analysis (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1964 and later). It is a joy to view this classic U.S. high school text next to currently popular ones.

Policy and General, Cont'd

William J. Bennett, Chester E. Finn, and John T. E. Cribb, The Educated Child: A Parent's Guide from Preschool through Eighth Grade (The Free Press, New York, 1999). Addressed to parents of K-8 pupils, but the heart of the book focusses on the Core Knowledge Foundation curriculum and is of general interest.

Williamson M. Evers (Ed.), What's Gone Wrong in America's Classrooms (Hoover Press, Stanford, 1998). Contributors include Bonnie Grossen, Jack M. Fletcher and G. Reid Lyon, Louisa Cook Moats, and E. D. Hirsch Jr.

Elaine K. McEwan, Angry Parents, Failing Schools (Harold Shaw Publ., Wheaton, IL, 1998). About the various curriculum wars and about pedagogical viruses found in schools, and a call for parent activism.

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Reading and Language

Sandra Stotsky, Losing our Language: How Multicultural Classroom Instruction Is Undermining Our Children's Ability to Read, Write, and Reason (The Free Press, New York, 1999). Describes the downgrading of school reading in the service of multicultural illiteracy and argues for a strong reading list and a substantive curriculum.

Jeanne S. Chall, Learning to Read: The Great Debate (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1967). A classic review of the research on beginning reading instruction. Updated in 1983 and 1995. Provides support for instruction based on phonemic awareness and comes out against Whole Word and, in the later editions, Whole Language teaching, waging battle against Rudolph Flesch's work (see below) at the same time.

Rudolph Flesch, Why Johnny Can't Read - and what you can do about it (Harper & Row, New York, 1955). A best-selling argument against Look-and-Say reading instruction and the basal readers of the day, and a parents' guide to beginning reading. By the same author: Why Johnny Still Can't Read (Harper & Row, New York, 1981). This revised edition dates from the early years of the modern Whole Language movement and is also of interest for Flesch's side of the argument with Jeanne Chall.

Other Education books lists

Illinois Loop reading list. A books list about education for concerned parents, teachers and administrators, by the editors of IllinoisLoop.Org.

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End Notes

Credits: This page reflects conversations with many friends and colleagues, both in person and through email. Special thanks are due to Wayne Bishop, Sylvain Cappell, Elizabeth Carson, Edmond David, Michel Delord, David Garbasz, John Hoven, David Klein, Mike McKeown, Stan Metzenberg, Jim Milgram, Chuck Newman, Stanley Ocken, Richard Phelps, Bill Quirk, Ralph Raimi, Martha Schwartz, and Alan Siegel; and to the NYC HOLD and Mathematically Correct groups and the Kto15/Kto16 email group. I also acknowledge the influence of writings of Bill Evers, Chester Finn, E. D. Hirsch, and Sandra Stotsky. -BJB

* Item noted with emphasis.

[+mmdd, Source] New item, showing the date it was added and how I found the item. Common abbreviations include EdN for Education News, EdG for the Education Gadfly, EdW for Education Week, N2P for Number 2 Pencil, IL for Illinois Loop, JJ for Joanne Jacobs, the initials of anyone named under Credits, Auth if I got it from the author, Ggl for Google, and Var if there were multiple sources or if I was just following links.

Bastiaan J. Braams
Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences
New York University
251 Mercer Street
New York, NY 10012-1185


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The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author. The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by New York University.