Metro, state schools do poorly in math, national assessment shows

Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 2:57am
Staff Reports


When the U.S. Department of Education on Wednesday released mathematics scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Tennessee’s poor showing was not unexpected.

While new NAEP scores show the state ranked 44th in fourth-grade math and 42nd in eighth-grade math in 2008, it was “the bad news” Metro set itself up for in February.

Back then, considering that Nashville’s public school district was experiencing more trouble with No Child Left Behind benchmarks than most districts in Tennessee, and considering Tennessee’s low statewide performance on NAEP tests, it stood to reason that a comparison between Metro Nashville Public Schools and other American cities based on NAEP results would not necessarily yield positive results.

However, Nashville leaders, including the mayor and the Chamber of Commerce, agreed to support MNPS’ participation in the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA), a project of U.S. Department of Education-run National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). It, according to Mayor Karl Dean, would compare Nashville student performance to kids in other large cities.

Director of Schools Jesse Register also supported the decision, and Board of Education chair David Fox at the time called NAEP the “gold standard” among national student achievement measurements.

“We need to compare ourselves with these other urban areas. … We have not been measuring ourselves at the national level,” Dean said in February. “As a politician, you don’t want to set yourself up for bad news, but you have to do it.”

The bad news was delivered Wednesday through Tennessee SCORE, a statewide education initiative focused on bringing all education stakeholders in the state together to improve K-12 education. SCORE is chaired by former U.S. Senator Bill Frist.

“The NAEP math results by the U.S. Department of Education illustrate Tennessee has a lot of work to do to improve our schools,” said SCORE Executive Director Brad Smith in a statement Wednesday.

“Ranking 44th in fourth grade math and 42nd in eighth grade math means far too many of our students are not receiving the opportunities they deserve,” he added.

Smith said SCORE next week will release a detailed plan for how Tennessee schools can become No. 1 in the Southeast within five years. SCORE will release its final report, “A Roadmap to Success” on Oct. 22.

The Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) is a study designed to assess the feasibility of district-level, rather than statewide, NAEP assessments. School districts participating in the project include Atlanta, Charlotte, Houston and Austin.

Nationally, math scores slightly rose for eighth graders over 2007 results; fourth grade was basically unchanged.

In the South, Georgia showed slight eighth grade improvement. It was the only southern state to show any improvement in math for any grade level.

View the NAEP results online by clicking here.



8 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 10/15/09 at 5:19

Does this surprise one single reader that lives in
Davidson County of this story? Biggest surprise
is that the scores are even this close to average.

By: Nash19 on 10/15/09 at 7:44

Well gosh, what do people expect when our "public leaders" can't even do math. Let's look at some possioble math questions.

1) "In 2005 a man is sentenced to ten years for a crime he committed. When will he be released from prison?" Answer = 2008.
2) Next question......"If Team A scores 100 points in a game and Team B scores 40 points in the game, what is the difference in scores?" Answer = Doesn't matter.
Everyone on each team gets a trophy and the league doesn't keep score due to possible lawsuits stemming form a child's self esteem.
3) Next......"If Sarah has $4 and Mike has $1 how many more dollars does Sarah have?" Answer = too many! It isn't fair and Sarah is forced to give Mike $1.50 to make things fair. Plus, Sarah is forced to give another $1 to Mike due to capitalism and horrible profit earnings.
4) Next......"Today is December first and Christmas is on December twenty fifth. How many more days until Christmas?" Answer = Doesn't matter. Celebrating Christmas is wrong and sends the message this country was founded on Christian principles! The more important issue at hand is whetheror not the Christmas play will be told on federal land or in a public school!
5) Next...."If you are taxed $5 a year for three years how much is your fine?" Answer = Zero. A tax is not a fine therfore I owe nothing. Also, I am eligible for a cabinet position since I did not pay taxes. This should be bonus points towards my score! Then again, why are we taking this test since tests are evil and wrong and so obviously biased!!!!!

This might just be why the scores are low.

By: dogmrb on 10/15/09 at 8:00

The Garcia/Johnson administration, with support of some Board members, said the exact opposite in 2002-2007. We only had to measure ourselves against our improvements internally. National standards were not what we were evaluating ourselves against. It takes a very long time to undo deception. At least this Mayor and Director are willing to see the picture honestly. The Chamber and the Board just go along to get elected.

By: idgaf on 10/15/09 at 10:05

A thought occured to me last night, rather then recycle/steal the same losers from other cities why don't we recruit a director from a successfull private school? Most likely would be cheaper too.

I believe school vochers are the cheapest quickest way to recovery.

By: dogmrb on 10/15/09 at 10:55

There's a reason they are at private schools rather than public. Public is too hard a challenge.

By: pswindle on 10/15/09 at 12:18

Until discipline is under control and parents get involved, there will be little learning taking place.

By: govskeptic on 10/15/09 at 2:59

Good teachers take less pay at private versus public schools and that's a fact. Why, because life's too short
to put up with what today's parents and their ignored and
out of control little darlings put a teacher and their fellow
students through. We can scream we need more help
from the parents but that falls on far too many unlistening
ears that only want school for babysitting and free lunches.
But don't dare scold or spank or even demand homework
because you won't get it! Best of luck with the impossible.

By: EddieA on 10/15/09 at 3:59

The answer is simple. In 1989, a local company created a math learning program named Number Cross. The program taught basic math at four levels of difficulty. It saved scores. At level four of multiplication, you needed a calculator to solve the problem. It was a cross word type program designed for children and adult learners. It sold for $19.95 with a license for a school to make unlimited copies for the classroom. It ran on a network, at no additional charge.

The program was introduced at the National Educational Computing Conference held in Nashville and math teachers laughed at it. There were no 'games'. The only thing the program did was to allow a student, grades kindergarten to 12th grade to practice basic math.

The problem with the program was it could generate more different math problems in one hour than the math teacher could create in one year. The program is still for sale at the same price $19.95. However, math teachers have no interest in it. The program code and grides were copyrighted in 1989 and in 2005, the company received the Federal Trademark for the name - Number Cross (R). Tthe program ends with the phrase "Math is the Common Sense of Life". That phrase is also copyrighted and trademarked. Some math teachers did not thing that phrase should be allowed to be copyrighted and trademarked.