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Why the US Ranks Last in Geometry

Teachers show that if you don't like the test results, simply discredit, change, abolish, eliminate, or dispute the test.
Date:Thu, 10 Dec 1998 14:42:07 -0500
Subject:RE: Moving on to other matters

Dear Mr. Knight: We regret to inform you that we cannot forward to
TIMSS Forum your response to the request made yesterday by the forum
Admins. Your message not only misrepresents our request to forum
members, it is rude and accusatory and insulting.

We have cautioned you before that this kind of message is simply not

Please be advised that your posting privileges for TIMSS Forum are
suspended for one month, until January 10, 1999.

Thank you.
TIMSS Forum Admins
Date:Wed, 9 Dec 1998 15:54:55 -0500
Subject:Moving on to other matters

Dear Forum members:

I think that by now everyone who is interested has had the opportunity to review, form an opinion, and comment upon the interpretation of TIMSS and other data provided by Mr. Knight
(Fathers' Manifesto).

We're operating now under the law of diminishing returns, and I think there's not much more to be gained by further debate over Mr. Knight's analyses.

Individuals are encouraged to continue their own private discussions of these matters but as a forum we think it's time to move on, and
we encourage everyone to please do so.

Peter Donahoe & Patsy Wang-Iverson
TIMSS Forum Admins

RESPONSE: Dear Mr. Donahoe,The data speaks for itself. The fact that you don't want to analyze the data, and will censor this forum to prevent such a discussion of the data, also speaks for itself. If you censor contributors to this forum simply because you disagree with their presentation of simple facts, the probability is zero that you will discover why the US scores at the bottom of the world in IAEP scores and virtually at the bottom in TIMSS scores.There is a reason for the poor quality of US education, and you could discover what that is--unless you bury your head in the sand.

Date:Tue, 01 Dec 1998 11:23:00 -0800
From:Erwin Morton <>
CC:John Knight <>,
Patsy Wang-Iverson <>,
"Guy F. Brandenburg" <>,
Mark Hall <>,
Gerry Meisels <>,
Francis Gardella <>,
Mary Jo Powell <>

For nearly two weeks, timss-forum has been dominated--to its
detriment--by a flurry of messages to and from one person. This traffic
has essentially stopped all other threads and made it difficult to
discuss anything except one man's personal agenda.

May I suggest that everyone reading or participating in this forum would
find it instructive to look at the following web sites--the home pages
of the sites repeatedly referenced by Mr. Knight:

See also:

In addition to the obvious I-have-a-point-to-prove orientation of these
sites, I note that the "close correlations" referenced by Mr. Knight
involve "selected countries", and not always the same number of
countries. What is the basis of the selection? Has the person who
created the graphs selected the countries that best fit the correlation
he desires? [I believe that in this instance I can safely use the
pronoun "he" without fear of being labeled sexist.] How good is the
analysis of the data? Here is a specific example, drawn from one of the
web sites Mr. Knight cites:

The three graphs

all purport to show correlations between TIMSS scores and the percentage
of male teachers, in 7, 13, and 17 countries respectively. educate 32
(the 7-country graph) and educate31 (the 13-country graph) show the same
7 data points; educate31 adds 6 more countries, all of which have
predominantly *male* teachers and relatively *low* TIMSS scores (i.e.,
all six points are on the right and well below the fitted line). Yet
the (least-squares?) fitted line is identical on the two graphs! That
is, the extra six points have no apparent effect on the fit!

The caption on educate32 (7 countries) says TIMSS scores increase 1
point for each 1% increase in male teachers, while the caption on
educate31 (13 countries), with this trend obviously weakened if not even
reversed, says TIMSS scores increase *4* points for each 1% increase in
male teachers! (The trend line shown on the graphs actually increases
by about 2.5 points for every 1% increase in male teachers.)

educate21, with more countries, adds more extreme outliers on *both*
sides of the line, and appears, at first glance, to have a rather low
correlation coefficient. But the same conclusion is drawn--4 points for
each 1%.

And nowhere, of course, is there a word about correlation coefficients,
fitting methods, error bars, etc., etc., etc.

Even if we ignore the sloppy mathematics, it is dangerous to select the
data that fit (or appear to fit, or can be made to appear to fit) the
thesis one is trying to demonstrate, and ignoring or rejecting all other
data by waving one's hand and labeling it outlying, discordant, or
nonconforming data.

It is not a sound basis for research, for understanding, or for policy
decisions. It is a good way to delude ourselves, and an excellent
method for deluding others (intentionally or unintentionally).

Remember also that even a true close correlation does not, in and of
itself, demonstrate causality.

Pretty graphs are impressive and memorable, and may seem convincing, but
we should be extremely cautious about accepting any of these conclusions
without verifying that both the data and its analysis are correct and
complete. We should also consider both what other interpretations might
be possible, and what other research sheds light on the same questions.

But, to quote Mr. Knight (Monday, Nov. 30):

> However, even without correcting these obvious erroneous data points,
> there is still such a close correlation between TIMSS Scores and the
> percent of teachers who are men that this probable factor cannot
> continue to be ignored
> [] It
> would not be appropriate to refocus the discussion on TIMSS data at
> this point, particularly if this *is* the root of the problem.

Yet even the graphs he cites do not confirm the correlation he claims. Again, quoting Mr. Knight:

> Such pop edudcation (sic) theories obviously don't work.

I could not agree more, but I doubt that he and I are speaking of the same theories.

The friendly folks at US TIMSS have been careful to distinguish among (a) what the data shows, (b) what the data suggests, (c) what questions
the data simply does not answer, and (d) what questions the data does not even address. I suggest we try to do the same.

--Erwin Morton

[note: of course, Erwin fails to point out which data point is in error, if any, nor does he provide "a word about correlation coefficients,
fitting methods, error bars, etc., etc., etc" himself]

Date:Tue, 01 Dec 1998 20:31:49 -0500
From:"Guy F. Brandenburg" <>
To:"Fathers' Manifesto",
Subject:Re: Refocusing the discussion on TIMSS data

Mr. Knight has his data wrong again, as well as the implications.
I graphed HIS data about % male teachers and TIMSS scores.
There IS no trend. [note: his comment was in reference to the graph of TIMSS scores vs. % male teachers]
Date:Tue, 1 Dec 1998 10:38:43 -0500
Subject:TIMSS Forum
I have temporarily unsubscribed your account from TIMSS Forum, due to repeated
problems of
the TIMSS Forum address being entered in the CC line.

Please let me know that you have received this message and reply.  I need to be
sure that
you receive this message and will try to help us avoid this problem with
messages.  Thanks.
Date:Tue, 1 Dec 1998 11:29:48 -0500
Subject:Re: Analysis of TIMSS

Dear John:

I'll have to ask you to restrict comments to TIMSS itself, and not stray off
into areas of
divorce, mortality or savings rates, or incarceration. Your comments seem to
be wandering
into areas that are probably better discussed in other forums that focus on
those issues.
Thanks. Peter Donahoe

"Fathers' Manifesto" <> on 11/30/98 02:08:39 PM

Agreed, Nick.
In addition to Sanford's excellent book, 11 different studies show that the mortality rate of divorced parents increases anywhere from 2-6 times, and nobody with a brain can deny the role of feminism in this remarkable increase in the divorce rate in the US.
But back to the subject. How are the math skills of our students going to be improved as radically as they need to be improved JUST to catch up to formerly third world nations like Korea? There are educators arguing that there is no correlation, as well as no causation, between the TIMSS scores and the data regarding the savings rates of numerous nations []. THAT is evidence of a serious breakdown in US education by itself. Even if you didn't understand the magnitude of a 107 point difference in TIMSS Math scores, the fact that an American, much less an educator, could look at such a simple graph and deny that there is a relationship between savings rates and math skills is even more dramatic than this 107 point gap.
John Knight

Date:Tue, 1 Dec 1998 13:01:05 -0400
From:Gail Delicio <dgail@CLEMSON.EDU>
unsubscribe dgail
Gail C. Delicio, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Educational Foundations & Special Education
407-B Tillman Hall
College of Health, Education, & Human Development
Clemson University, Clemson SC  29634-0715
Phone:  864/656-5112    Fax:  864/656-1322


Date:Wed, 02 Dec 1998 21:31:59 -0500
From:"Guy F. Brandenburg" <>
To:"Fathers' Manifesto" <>,,
Subject:Re: TIMSS Analysis

Fathers' Manifesto wrote:

> ---"Guy F. Brandenburg" <> wrote:
> >
> > Mr. Knight has his data wrong again, as well as the implications.
> > I graphed HIS data about % male teachers and TIMSS scores.
> > There IS no trend.
> Mr. Brandenburg,
> Could you provide the data and/or graphs you used to reach that
> conclusion?
> Would you care to critique the updated data located at?:
> If you need the original Excel spreadsheets, please let me know.
> John Knight

Yeah, I took YOUR data from YOUR email, graphed TIMSS scores vs. % of male teachers, and vs. % of female teachers. There was NO trend. The graph zigzags
back and forth. Do it yourself, HONESTLY, and you'll see the same thing. I could have done it DISHONESTLY, like you, and thrown out selected countries,
and shown that the HIGHER the percentage of female math teachers, the higher the TIMSS scores, which is the exact opposite of your biased conclusion.
Apparently, you DISHONESTLY threw out a different subset of countries and showed that the higher the percentage of male teachers, the higher the TIMMS
scores. You are a filthy stinking sexist liar. Shut up and get off this newsgroup.
To:"Fathers' Manifesto" <>, "Guy F. Brandenburg" <>,
Date:Thu, 3 Dec 1998 14:40:13 -0500
Subject:Re: TIMSS Analysis

Re < how you can conclude that "TIMSS did show that there is
nothing wrong with American students" when American students scored 28th out of
41 nations
on TIMSS, last on IAEP Math, and when SAT Scores are down 98 points.

You got me there.  I didn't finish my thought.  TIMSS showed that American
students do
learn what is taught to them.  Given the fact that only 25% of 8th graders have
opportunity to take Algebra and our 8th graders' performance in Algebra was
average by
world standards is quite remarkable, don't you think?

Re , Please explain how, if the math skills of American teachers are 211 TIMSS
lower than Japanese or Korean teachers, that even if they do "work the hardest
of most
teachers around the world during the school day", they are going to compensate
for this
lack of basic skills?

You are right.  Working hard is not necessarily working smart.  Since the math
skills of
American teachers seem to be lower, then perhaps we should come up with
strategies for
teaching them more mathematics.  Please note that I stated that American
teachers work the
hardest during the school day.  We next have to examine how much time teachers
put into
preparing lesson plans and whether they work together or in isolation preparing

G. Polya in How to Solve It, written in 1945 said that 1) teachers need to know
what it is
they are teaching and 2) they need to know more than they have to teach.

Re < Please explain how a suggestion that the percent of teachers in the US who
are men be
increased to 50% is tantamount to "Suggesting the removal of all female

I was not interpreting your increase to 50% to mean removal of all female
teachers, and I
apologize if that is how you thought I interpreted it.  However, I think
suggesting that
we increase the gender of teachers to reflect 50% male is simplistic.  I would
like to see
that 100% of our teachers, regardless of gender, be competent.
I absolutely agree with you that we need competent teachers.  But these
teachers also need
to know what it is they should be teaching and they need appropriate and
adequate support
for their efforts.  In turn, students, parents and the community need to take

Re < single most important disadvantage US students face?

I think that competent teachers are necessary but not  sufficient to help
students learn.
If students don't come to school, a competen teacher won't make a difference in
students' lives.  If students come to school abused, with inadequate rest, or
malnourished, a competent teacher would help but may not be able to compensate
for all
other ills.

What are your suggestions for improving teacher quality?

What do you think the California legislature's decision to eliminate teacher
development to pay for more school days?


Patsy Wang-Iverson
Mid-Atlantic Eisenhower Consortium (
Research for Better Schools
444 North Third Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123-4107
work: 215.574.9300 x264
fax:  215.574.0133
Date:Mon, 30 Nov 1998 17:29:12 -0500
Subject:Refocusing the discussion on TIMSS data


Re the statement made in the attached email message that < most math teachers in Japan or Germany are males,

U.S.A. Japan Germany


Pop 1
Math 14 86 39 61 -- --
The four top countries in math for Pop 1 were Singapore (82% Female Teachers), Korea (64% FT), Japan (61% FT), Hong Kong (66% FT), Netherlands (35% FT)_. Data from p.
146, Mathematical Achievement in the Primary School Years.
Pop 2
Math 35 65 72 28 67 33
The five top countries in math for Pop 1 were Singapore (60% FT), Korea (45% FT), Japan (28% FT), Hong Kong (40% FT), Belgium (66% FT). Data from p.
No teacher questionnaires were administered for the End of Secondary School portion of TIMSS. Yes, the above statement holds for Pop 2 teachers but not for Pop 1 teachers.
One alsoneeds to look beyond the 3 countries.

RE < What, other than this kind of thinking, was responsible for the poor math skills of US students
How about:
1. lack of consensus on what it is students should learn in mathematics;
2. lack of opportunity for all American students to learn rigorous
mathematics; lack of
belief that all individuals can learn mathematics; lack of appreciation for
the value of
mathematics and science in all our lives;
3. lack of adequate teacher preparation;
4. lack of adequate, ongoing teacher professional development (as defined by
opportunities for teachers to work together to create lesson plans and to learn
from each

So how about ceasing from putting forth our own personal, narrow agenda and arguing over which is more important (knowing content or knowing teaching? they are BOTH
important) and get on with the business of figuring out together how we can teach our teachers to teach all our students rigorous mathematics and science?
And before we can help the teachers, we need to decide what it is they are to teach. Are we bothering to examine the NCTM draft standards? Are they still covering too
many topics? Is the new draft specific and concrete enough? How about channeling our energies to reviewing the NCTM draft standards and
providing rich, concrete feedback before May 1, 1999? After all, the NCTM math standards are what we have to work with.

Patsy Wang-Iverson
Mid-Atlantic Eisenhower Consortium (
Research for Better Schools
444 North Third Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123-4107
work: 215.574.9300 x264
fax: 215.574.0133,
From:"Patty L. Schumacher" <>
Subject:Re: Facts?
Date:Wed, 2 Dec 1998 20:51:06 -0500

>---"Patty L. Schumacher" <> wrote:

>> Qualified teachers that were not hired and were not teaching are not
>a part
>> of the TIMSS study.
>If they were not hired, are not teaching math, and are not part of the
>TIMSS study, then why do you mention them in the first place? They
>are not playing a role in education, are they? They are not part of
>the problem now, are they? Their skills were not reflected in the
>TIMSS data, were they?
>The original point is that highly qualified math teachers should be
>hired, and you seemed to be objecting to that point, correct?

I am saying that highly qualified teachers do not get hired. They could be part of the solution. They could be playing a role in education, but havebeen excluded. I object to the fact that these teachers are NOT hired
because of the way we finance public education, politics, etc. We now need to focus on as many aspects of education as possible and each of us do
what we can as parents, students, teachers, politicians, etc.


Date:Tue, 1 Dec 1998 09:31:21 -0600
From:Myrna Whigham <>
Please quit sending me email!  What a problem you create when I'm out of
the office for a few days!
Date:Wed, 9 Dec 1998 13:51:31 -0500
Subject:Superintendents' Views on TIMSS 12th Grade Results
Greetings:  Attached below is a press release from the Gordon S.
Black Corporation that indicates 80% of American school
superintendents have little faith in the TIMSS 12th Grade
achievement results.

In order to transmit this release through e-mail, I did have to
modify the way the tables display the survey results...

Pete Donahoe
Mid-Atlantic Eisenhower Consortium for
Mathematics & Science Education

Email Your Opinion
Table of TIMS Correlation
List of TIMSS Figures
Table of TIMSS Statistics
Ten Education Variables
Teachers Speak Out
Superintendents Speak Out
Erwin Morton Responds, First Post, Addendum
Feminist Education Principles Exposed




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