dramatic improvment in math scores a g-dsend

In another 8 or 9 years, we’re going to see a huge jump in the level and abilities of our first year university students. Obviously the changes to the school curriculum have been a success as our 8th graders this year improved Israel’s international standing in math to a serious degree. In the early 1980s we consistently held first place out of all the countries in math (and science). By 2004 we’d fallen all the way down to 32nd place. In 2007 we had at least moved up to 24th –still an abysmal ranking. Now, according to the tests given in 2011, our students have made a dramatic jump up to 7th place, scoring above the U.S. and most European countries.

All we’ve got is the brain-power of our citizens going for us in our tiny little country. In another 10 years, our university students will be a force to be reckoned with and I hope our universities will improve the standards, requirements and course-work to meet the needs and challenge a more able and apt student body.

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8 responses to “dramatic improvment in math scores a g-dsend”

  1. TDDPirate says :

    Unfortunately, it looks more like gaming the tests rather than genuine improvement.
    There is a lot of evidence that the group of children chosen to be tested were taught to the tests rather than have the regular curriculum.

    • Lynne says :

      Pirate, I have seen that happen here in the US where there is intense pressure to have all students reach a specific level. Unfortunately, the efforts to improve the scores do not use appropriate curriculum and instruction, and the acceptable level for the US for these standardized elementary school and high school tests is low. It would be much better to provide an excellent curriculum and remediation for students, but minus the standardized tests.
      I’m going to hope that there is a real improvement in Israel though, and that the instruction is responsible for the improvement.

  2. Paul says :

    Also (as in 2007) entire sectors did not sit the tests. Haredim/Special Ed/Arab East Jerusaelmite students were excluded which means that Israel had a 23% non participation whereas the rest of the OECD had 6-7 % non participation.

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4318945,00.html

  3. israeliminx says :

    Pirate — if that is the case there is still room for massive celebration and serious woo hooíng because in math ‘teaching to the test’ is the same as teaching basic math, period, when we are talking about 8th graders.. The kids did not have the test questions and answers in advance and so they had to have the basic skills to add, subtract, multiply. divide, work out percentages and decimals in order to excel on the problems they were presented with.

    Currently, we are and have been graduating “top” students from university who do not have a clue what a percentage or decimal stands for, how or why to calculate one, how, when or why you’d calculate an average or what it would mean if you did and so forth. I am talking about the very top students I’ve worked with over the last 7 years — it has been an exceedingly rare and joyful exception that I’ve come across a student with an understanding and ability beyond what I’d achieved in 7th grade (and placed in a remedial math course because it would be two years before an optometrist discovered I was nearly blind as a bat –categorized as legally blind –and couldn’t distinguish between a 3 and an 8 or a 5 and a 6 without coke-bottle thick glasses).

  4. Larry007 says :

    Yael, don’t buy it, it’s a stunt.

  5. Lynne says :

    I trust the stated improvements in Math, more than any reported in the US for reading comprehension. Kids can get “passing ” scores on those without truly understanding. The passing levels are very, astonishingly low, so the students really can pass without being competent in reading. Math is different, so I am more confident that the students are really learning that the material. When I was teaching GED classes and had university interns, I found that many of them could not add a column of figures, did not know multiplication facts, and had no clue about percentages or division—really, they were on about a third grade level in Math. Not having a knowledge of these basic operations drastically affected the ninth grade students that I worked with in public schools, as they began to study algebra.

  6. WipeOutHamasOnceAndForAll says :

    On another topic, for the readers living in the US, Obama has squandered more money on creating Big Brother and to monitor who? Americans!
    Read “U.S. Terrorism Agency to Tap a Vast Database of Citizens” at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324478304578171623040640006.html

  7. israeliminx says :

    Ema exactly.

    Larry — I’d not trust any higher scores reported on anything outside of math because you can narrowly teach only to the test in literally every other subject and thus not teach much. Math is the one subject where even if you are only teaching to the test, you are teaching the needed basic skills. This is not an exam that is internal only to us here but one that is given to kids in more than 100 countries and has been given since the late 1970s so we can look back and see how our kids performed, compared to others, over time.

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