Archive for the ‘Higher Ed’ Category

Most universities have remedial math courses for students who have had difficulty getting to university math levels. However, few universities have remedial math DEPARTMENTS. UVU is one such university that has been forced to do this because of the low quality math skills of students who arrive at the university.

For years the Utah State Department of Education has maintained that the high remedial math class percentage at UVU is the result of returning missionaries who haven’t had math for a period of 2-3 years and then need help getting back up to speed. This is a myth which can now be fully corrected.

UVU generated the following information after a request by Dr. David Wright, math professor at BYU, and Senator Margaret Dayton.

Click to enlarge

This chart shows that these remediation rates (as high as 72% in the past few years) are for first time college students. Many people who go on missions squeeze in a semester or two before they leave, and when they return from their mission they are no longer counted as a first time college student. The percentage of students prepared for college level algebra, is a pitiful 16-24%. How can this be? Constructivist math promoted by BYU’s Math Education department has made the rounds of all the surrounding school districts and it’s killing us. There has not been a single study showing constructivist math programs as effective. Yet we continue doing this injustice to our children making them non-competitive with the rest of the world. When will our schools change? They won’t until school board members quit listening to the so-called “expert” educators within their districts and from schools of education. It’s obvious these folks don’t value actual scientific facts or else they would drop these programs and just use something that works like Singapore math.

I came across this web page recently while doing some research on John Dewey and John Goodlad. Both men are cut from the same progressive, humanist cloth, and this page tells the incredible tale of how various education and government organizations are intimately tied together.  If you do a search for John Goodlad’s name, you will discover that in 1968 he was involved in moving forward a plan for national curriculum centers. In the 1980’s, Mr. Goodlad would be hired by BYU to help them form the Public School Partnership that created the framework for the 5 surrounding school districts to be heavily influenced by the philosophies Goodlad and his cohorts espoused…one of which is constructivism.

A great article from Barry Garelick on the insanity of Everyday math and the virtues of Singapore math.

What exactly is the attraction of reform math? I still haven’t figured out why so many “educators” are so blind to this method of teaching and the results it’s producing.  Two year colleges are being hit especially hard with the number of students requiring remedial math. Utah is no exception, but here’s some hard figures from another community college:

The numbers of students needing remediation went from 63% in 1999 to 71% today. One eighth of the PGCC budget is allocated to remediation.

Two reports by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) do a fantastic job of showing just where education colleges are failing students who want to become teachers, and then our children who are taught by these teachers.  One report was released in June 2008 for mathematics preparation of teachers entitled “No Common Denominator–The Preparation of Elementary Teachers in Mathematics by America’s Education Schools.” The second, released in May 2006, is on reading and is titled “What Educations Schools Aren’t Teaching About Reading and What Elementary Teachers Aren’t Learning.”

The math report examined 77 schools around the country and Utah State University was the only college in Utah that was examined, and also received a failing mark for teacher preparation.

This August, thanks to a grant by a generous donor, a report will be revealed that examines all 8 major colleges in Utah. I understand that only 1 college has received a passing mark, while 3 would pass if they required more courses of elementary education students, and 4 fail completely.

The links below will take you to the math and reading reports, but the gist of them was to give a few standards for teachers and development of a proper education base before they go off to teach impressionable minds.  The math report details 5 standards as follows:

1) Teachers must acquire a deep conceptual knowledge of math focused on

1. numbers and operations,
2. algebra,
3. geometry and measurement, and — to a lesser degree —
4. data analysis and probability.

2) Higher entry standards into the program with teachers demonstrating mastery of geometry and algebra 2 at the high school level

3) Must demonstrate a deeper understanding of math than what they must teach to children

4) Elementary content courses must emphasize numbers and operations and student teaching must focus on delivery of math content

5) Math content delivered to teachers should be done within the purview of a MATH DEPARTMENT

The entire math report is 28 pages and contains some other interesting things should any of you wish to look over it.  I am eager for the report in August and can’t wait to see how <cough>BYU</cough> fares.  I’m not expecting it will be the lone passing school in the state.

Link to math report

The reading report is also great and tells us what we already knew, that phonics and explicit instruction work best.  Sorry whole language constructivism.  You lose again.

Link to reading report

Kudos to David Wiley at BYU for his forward thinking on higher education. Check out this article in which he discusses the need for open learning.

“At its core, the open education movement and the larger open content, copyleft movement has “a fundamental belief that knowledge is a public good and should be fully shared,” explains Catherine Casserly, senior partner with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Wiley, she says, is viewed in the open education realm as an imaginative innovator who is always thinking of new applications for disseminating knowledge to the many instead of keeping it “locked up” for the benefit of the few.”,5143,705298649,00.html