If we KNOW that a woman's involvement in education cuts education quality by a third and that a man's involvement doubles education quality, then we KNOW why having mostly women teachers has produced the miserable education system we now lament. How bad is that education system? At the 8th grade level, the same countries which scored much higher than the US in 1995 also scored much higher in 1999 http://nces.ed.gov/timss/timss-r/figure_1.html By refusing to even discuss the problem with the quality of American teachers, much less to correct it, we guaranteed that we would make no progress in education during this four years in spite of all the political rhetoric to the contrary. 46% of Singapore's 8th graders and 41% of Taiwan's scored higher than the top ten percent, compared to only 9% of ours and this will be the case a century from now if we don't wake up to reality.
But this is only the good news. Things get worse at the 12th grade level. Much worse. Whereas most countries' 12th graders score higher than or equal to their 8th graders, ours score lower timss4th12th.htm Our 12th graders score even lower than our 4th graders. What is difficult to discern from the NCES web site is just HOW much worse. A more detailed look at the 1995 data shows a very disturbing pattern which NCES is clearly bent on concealing. In other words, there is no doubt that these "educators" know the problem but are politically motivated to conceal it, at all costs, including the continued decline of US education quality.
For example, it is difficult to discover from the NCES web site that at the 8th grade level, Cyprus scored 26 points lower than the US, but that at the 12th grade level, they scored 81 points higher in Geometry, 109 points higher in calculus, and 70 points higher in physics. Their students improved considerably in high school while ours not only failed to improve, but actually dropped an average of 78 points timsssummary.htm You would also not know that most of the math teachers in Cyprus are men while 80% of ours are women.
Another example is Lithuania who scored 20 points lower than the US at the 8th grade level but at the 12th grade level they scored 100 points higher in geometry, 85 points higher in advanced math, 58 points higher in calculus, and 20 points higher in general math.
A third example is Italy whose 8th graders scored 23 points lower than ours but whose 12th graders scored 60 points higher in calculus, 46 points higher in geometry, 27 points higher in advanced math, and 25 points higher in general math. Two thirds of Italy's teachers are men.
Of the 12th graders who participated in TIMSS in 1995, our 12th graders were dead last in advanced math, dead last in general physics, dead last in mechanics, dead last in electricity and magnetism, dead last in heat, dead last in geometry, dead last in numbers and equations, dead last in calculus, dead last in geometry, dead last in advanced math, dead last in wave phenomena, and dead last in modern physics. Only Cyprus and South Africa scored lower in general math, and only Cyprus, Hungary, Lithuania, and South Africa scored lower in general science timsstables.htm
To insist that we continue this experiment in education, wherein women can "prove" that they can teach boy students who have proven to understand math better than their own teachers, is not only the definition of insanity--it is destroying the culture and the economy.
Of the 27 countries which scored higher than us in 1995, 15 of them took the test in 1999 and also scored higher than us, 2 of them (England and Thailand) scored higher in 1995 but lower in 1999, Latvia who scored lower in 1995 changed positions and scored 3 points higher than us in 1999, and two new countries which didn't take the test in 1995 scored higher than us in 1999 (Malaysia by 17 points and Taiwan by 83 points).
December 6, 2000
Worldwide Survey Finds U.S. Students Are Not Keeping Up
By DIANA JEAN SCHEMO
Join a Discussion on Standardized Testing
[W] ASHINGTON, Dec. 5 Four years after American fourth-grade students scored high on an international test of science and math, their performance declined markedly when they reached the eighth grade, a second survey shows.
The survey results, released here today, indicate that the changes some educators had suggested were responsible for the fourth graders' success were insufficient to produce results as they advanced in school.
The survey was based on the results of tests that 180,000 eighth- graders in 38 nations took last year. It showed American students, over all, performing worse in math and science than students in Singapore, Taiwan, Russia, Canada, Finland, Hungary, the Netherlands and Australia. They did better than students in some less industrialized nations, including Iran, Jordan, Chile, Indonesia, Macedonia and South Africa.
"American children continue to learn, but their peers in other countries are learning at a higher rate," said Richard W. Riley, the outgoing secretary of education.
Mr. Riley said that data showing American youngsters doing slightly better than the international average in math and science was cause for optimism, but acknowledged, "We need to work harder and better."
The report, known as the Third International Math and Science Study-Repeat, came as a letdown to a number of educators.
It confirmed the declines over time in student performances that the initial 1995 survey of students in the United States and 42 other nations indicated.
That study showed American fourth-grade students among the leaders in science and at the international average in math. In the eighth grade, though, American students hovered at less than the international average in math and at the average in science. And in the twelfth grade, they lagged far behind students in most other nations in both subjects.
In the follow-up study, which took place in 1999, the only American group that showed improvement since the 1995 survey were black students, whose achievement rose in math, but not science. White students did better than black or Hispanic Americans on both science and math, while boys did better than girls in science, but not in math.
In agreeing to repeat the test but examining only the most promising age group American educators had hoped to find that the students who fared well in 1995 as fourth graders would continue to do so as eighth graders. That did not happen.
The reforms on which their hopes hinged, many undertaken during the last decade, included the efforts of school districts to bring uniformity and coherence to science and math curriculums, which vary widely with each district, and to raise standards.
Other reforms included programs by the National Science Foundation to reinvigorate science and math teaching in part by drawing working scientists into classrooms.
But the report said that such efforts, while perhaps improving achievement in isolated school districts, may have had little effect on an entire nation's performance.
Rita Colwell, director of the National Science Foundation, which is conducting several pilot projects to determine the best methods to improve the teaching of science, math and engineering, said she found the results "a little depressing."
"You would like to see the U.S. a leader not just in research and Nobel prizes, but in how our little kids perform," she said.
The international test, which was administered to 9,000 United States eighth-graders, resembled standardized tests taken nationally, asking a combination of multiple choice and open-ended questions.
In math, the questions covered five areas: fractions and number sense; measurement; data analysis; geometry; and algebra.
Science questions involved earth science and life science; physics; chemistry; environmental and resource issues; and scientific inquiry.
In 1995, American fourth-grade students did better than the international average on the science exam. Of the nations participating in both the 1995 and 1999 exams, American scores were exceeded only by those of South Korea and Japan.
But the results from 1999 showed that by the eighth grade, American students fell below the international average in science, with students in Australia, the Czech Republic, Britain, Slovenia, Canada and Hungary and five other nations doing better.
In math, American fourth graders in 1995 outperformed students in Canada, Britain and Cyprus, among others. But by the eighth grade, the report showed, they were on a level with students in Latvia, while those in Canada and Australia advanced.
Several industrialized nations that took part in the 1995 study including Switzerland, France, Austria and Germany did not participate this time. New nations joining the study included Taiwan, which scored well, and nearly a dozen low-scoring nations, including Tunisia, Moldova, Turkey, Thailand, Chile, Malaysia and Indonesia.
International comparisons have often come under fire, with critics arguing that other countries divide students at an early age into academic and nonacademic tracks, so that only their top-ranked students ever get to take international exams.
But Michael O. Martin, a professor at Boston College who helped design and organize this year's study, said such tracking decisions typically occur after the eighth grade. His group had tried to assure that a representative sample of students in each country took last year's test, he said.
In addition to its ranking of nations, the study also offered what Gary W. Phillips, the acting United States commissioner of education statistics, termed "a treasure chest of information" on what teachers teach and students learn in the 38 participating nations.
It found that most nations tend to employ math teachers certified in math. On average, 71 percent of students internationally learned math from teachers who majored in mathematics in college, but only 41 percent of American students did.
Nations with higher rankings teach subjects like geometry, chemistry and physics before high school, giving students more time to absorb the concepts, said William H. Schmidt, executive director of the Third International Math and Science Study Research Center at Michigan State University.
"As they get to high school, students in those countries can get much more challenging mathematics or science," he said. Only 25 percent of American high school students, he added, ever take physics.
The study showed that teachers in nations whose students scored higher in math and science tended to spend more time on professional development and refining curriculums.
Lee Stiff, president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, noted that while specialized degrees are more common among high school teachers, middle schools tend to prefer or often require teachers to have general education degrees, since that gives administrators flexibility in assigning teachers to a greater variety of classrooms.
He said that teachers in the United States, Japan and China were eager for training and professional development, "but the other countries leave more time for development and class preparation during the school day. To have the dramatic gains we'd like, we have to do something dramatic in terms of what it means to be a teacher in America."
Carol Stoel, director of Schools Around the World, which links teachers in different nations to improve teacher and student performance, called for "greater emphasis on serious work at the middle-school level."
"Teachers in middle schools are committed, but they need lots of help in content matter," she said.