Photo courtesy of Sandhya Raman
Sandhya Raman reviews math problems with seventh grade students in San Jose's Morrill Middle School in Berryessa School District.

Do you count on EdSource’s education coverage? If so, please make your donation today to keep us going without a paywall or ads.

Math scores of California’s average eighth graders on standardized tests in 2021 were in line with the knowledge and skills of fifth graders, according to a new analysis of the state’s Smarter Balanced tests.

The results raise doubts whether traditional strategies like summer school and tutoring can succeed in making up such a huge gap in learning.

The analysis, which looks at performance over time, shows that students fell behind each year incrementally even before the pandemic, starting in third grade when tests were first given.

Progress completely stalled last year, when most students were in remote learning. Eighth graders overall scored at the same level that they did when they took the sixth grade test two years earlier.

The state canceled Smarter Balanced tests in the spring of 2020 because of the Covid pandemic, so there are no results from seventh grade for these students.

Progress in math builds on knowledge accumulated in previous years. Missing instruction and skills compound the challenges that elementary and middle school math teachers face moving forward after another disruptive year dealing with Covid variants.

“The results highlight massive gaps in math learning that existed long before pandemic,” said Rick Miller, CEO of the CORE Districts, a multidistrict data and improvement collaborative. “Responding with a one-time fix misunderstands what is happening.” 

The analysis, published in an EdSource commentary, was produced by David Wakelyn, founder of Union Square Learning, a nonprofit with offices in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., that works with education organizations on improvement strategies. Wakelyn formerly was executive director for policy development for The College Board, an education policy adviser to former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and program director for the National Governors Association. 

Wakelyn viewed the test scores with a different yardstick from the California Department of Education. As it has every year, the state measured the percentage of students who met or exceeded standards, noting that for the first time in five years, the percentage dropped. 

Wakelyn tracked the scores of the students as they progressed from third to eighth grade and compared the results with the pre-pandemic cohort that took the eighth grade test in 2019, two years earlier. Smarter Balanced makes this possible since scores progress on a vertical scale from 2350 to 2700. Making standard – passing the test – requires a score of 2436 in third grade, 2485 in fourth grade and so on. 

Last year, the average scores of all groups in eighth grade were below standard except for Asian students, the only group whose scores significantly increased last year; their average score was in the upper range of exceeding standards. Black and Latino eighth grade and low-income students in all eighth grade groups averaged far below standard, with a score approximating what fourth graders need to meet that grade’s standards. 

However, Miller, state officials and others caution against overinterpreting the 2021 test scores and against comparing them with prior years. 

Fewer than one-quarter of students in grades three through eight and 11, the grades given the assessments, took the tests. Because of the pandemic, the state gave districts the choice of giving Smarter Balanced or a local assessment; as a result, only 24% of students statewide took the Smarter Balanced test. 

Since eighth graders didn’t actually take a fourth or fifth grade test, one can only say their scores were indicative of the knowledge of fourth or fifth graders. Some may know elements of what they were taught in sixth or seventh grade. 

Even though those students generally reflect the state’s demographics, experts said it would be improper to generalize from that number. Additionally, although Smarter Balanced is an online test, not enough is known about the students who took the test and the conditions under which they took it. 

“There was a fatigue and resistance to spending more time online” and to take seriously something they were not invested in, said Peg Cagle, a mathematics teacher and department chair at Reseda High School in Los Angeles Unified School District.

Adverse conditions have continued this year, with widespread staff shortages, crippling rates of student absences and worrisome data on students’ declining mental health. When most students return from spring break, they will take this year’s Smarter Balanced tests.

Natomas Unified Superintendent Chris Evans is among those who question the value and accuracy of taking standardized tests this year. Given all that students have gone through, he said, big declines in scores may be false negatives that don’t reflect students’ and teachers’ hard work.

But Wakelyn pointed out that the math results in 2021 contrasted with the students’ scores in English language arts. Reading and writing scores were only slightly below grade-level standards and took a small dip in 2021. He described math scores as “a five-alarm fire” that should be taken seriously, caveats notwithstanding.

Miller agreed. “I have no argument with the spirit of what he found. It mirrors the data we have been looking at.”

And it mirrors what Sandhya Raman is seeing in her sixth and seventh grade math classes at Morrill Middle School in Berryessa Union School District in San Jose. 

“There’s a wider range of levels where students are right now. Some sixth graders are at third grade level and some are in eighth grade,” she said. “It’s not impossible to handle, but it is overwhelming in terms of time and resources. It is draining.”

Rick Hanushek, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, said that, if left unaddressed, the reduction in learning that Covid has caused will permanently harm students. He estimates that students in school when Covid-19 struck two years ago will lose 6% to 9% of their lifetime earnings, and the nation’s gross domestic product will be 3% to 4% lower. He arrived at his projections by comparing the impact of students who missed school due to prolonged labor strikes with those who remained in school. 

Covid’s impact was “a reduction in the human capital that we will see throughout the remainder of the century,” he said last month during a conference at Hoover. A study released Monday by the consulting company McKinsey & Co. estimated the worldwide impact as a $1.6 trillion per year hit to the global economy by 2040.

Disagreements on remedies

Perspectives differ on what can be done to make up for the lost math instruction and learning. 

“We have long known that elementary school teachers struggle to teach math and as a result focus the bulk of their attention on literacy,” said Arun Ramanathan, CEO of Pivot Learning, an Oakland-based nonprofit working in two dozen states to raise academic achievement in public schools. “But we lack a state strategy to get high-quality instructional materials in the hands of teachers and support their ongoing professional learning with high-quality coaching.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom has included $500 million in his 2022-23 budget proposal to hire and train literacy coaches and reading specialists in high-needs schools; a task force on early childhood literacy created by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond echoed support for that and other initiatives last week. Newsom is proposing no comparable effort for math or science. 

With record state funding expected to generate billions of dollars of additional K-12 funding in the May budget revision, organizations like the California Partnership for Math and Science Education, the California Mathematics Council and the advocacy organization Education Trust-West are pushing for Assembly Bill 2565, authored by Assemblymember Blanca Rubio, D-Baldwin Park. It calls for spending $388 million over three years to create statewide professional learning networks in math and science and fund teams of teachers and administrators at the district and school levels to lead training and adopt high-quality materials. The first hearing on the bill will be Wednesday. 

Angela Gunderson, a sixth to eighth grade math coach in Norwalk-La Mirada Unified, criticized the lack of a systemic approach to training at a recent news conference on the bill. Amid the pandemic, she said, there was an immediate focus on social and emotional learning, with massive attention and materials. 

“I was thinking, wouldn’t it’d be nice if the same approach was taken that fast for math and science,” Gunderson said. “It is possible if made a priority.” 

Morgan Polikoff, an associate professor at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education, said “the pat answer – tutoring – is fine,” but simply offering it after school won’t assure students who need help will show up. “I think lengthening the school day and year is the likeliest approach to improving student learning. Just offering interventions—especially if many who need them won’t take them — is not enough.”

Raman agreed that is an issue. “I have some great paraeducators during class, and there is help available after school, but after six hours, half the time the kids are checked out,” she said. 

Research is clear that tutoring is most effective when done in school, individually or in groups of up to three students, several times each week, by trained staff. The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, an independent nonprofit organization that runs a network of schools within Los Angeles Unified, is deploying staff from federally funded AmeriCorps program City Year, trained in the math curriculum, to work in concert with teachers in some of its 19 campuses. 

But classroom aides who could serve as tutors are in short supply statewide. In LAUSD, only 4% to 6% of middle and high school students and 11% of elementary school students have been tutored in any subject, and some of those have been through online providers, the district reported last week

Alternative to tracking

It’s time to consider a basic structural reform, rethinking “organizing kids by age in a system where gaps have widened this dramatically,” Polikoff said.  

“If kids are three to four years behind, why are we teaching them grade-level standards now?” he asked. “Why are we grouping kids who are on-grade with kids who are so far behind? How is that sustainable for teachers?” 

But dividing students based on skills raises the prospect of tracking – a dead-end path for low-income kids of color.  It’s a concern Polikoff said he shares but also a line that many districts won’t be willing to cross. Nor should they, said Ian Guidera, chief academic officer of the Partnership for L.A. Schools.  “Our theory has always been your math block should be on grade-level instruction. You can have a two-tier rotation, but extra and pullout time (for remediation) should be supplemental to grade-level instruction,” he said. 

Critical to that effort, he said, are well-trained teachers and a standards-aligned curriculum, he said. The latest survey by EdReports, which evaluates math textbooks and materials, found that 59% were either not aligned or partially aligned with standards. And the curriculum should be centered on solving problems and strengthening math reasoning, he said. L.A. Partnership is using the Illustrative Math curriculum in high school and transitioning to it in elementary grades because it is strong in doing that, Guidera said.  

Teachers must be not only well-trained in standards but also adept “in teaching in ways they didn’t experience in math classes as students”  – promoting dialogue and the freedom to search for multiple paths to an answer, Guidera said. Learning to teach this way is hard, he said, and requires teachers to understand gaps in standards that are multiple grades below. 

Guidera, Raman and others refer to “low-floor, high-ceiling” tasks that challenge students at various skills levels simultaneously while building confidence and interest in those who might give up. For an exercise in Raman’s sixth grade class on ratio and proportions, some students may add fractions with uncommon denominators, a fourth grade standard, while another student may learn slopes, an eighth-grade task. 

“It takes a lot more planning on my end to address the various needs,” she said. 

Each day, she faces a difficult dilemma: how much attention to spend with students who are behind and how much with those who are ready. Some days, when she can’t find enough time with either, she says she has “a feeling of inadequacy.”

She arrives early and stays late to provide extra help. Having students reflect on the gaps in their knowledge and ask for help is a big step, she said. 

Debut of the revised math framework

Raman and organizations like the California Mathematics Council are counting on the proposed California math framework, now its second revision, to help teachers bridge the knowledge gaps they see in their classrooms. The framework’s writers spend much of the 900 pages explaining and giving examples on how to make math engaging and challenging – and how to weave multiple standards and concepts into “big ideas” of math that can put math into context. A key element is building a math mindset by showing that all kids can think like a mathematician – especially those who have convinced themselves they’re just no good in math.

First introduced in the California Digital Learning Integration and Standards Guidance, which the State Board of Education adopted in 2021, the approach was folded into the new framework, said one of the authors, Jo Boaler, a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. The framework encourages the use of visualizations and manipulatives through “rich, open tasks” that create “space to learn,” Boaler said. “Kids who miss knowledge can begin to get it. That’s the magic of big ideas.”

A classroom in Oak Grove, an elementary school district in San Jose, may hint at what’s to come. Working with researchers from youcubed, a center at Stanford University that Boaler co-directs, a dozen teachers are receiving all-day training on the framework and then trying out what they’ve learned in their classrooms. After a morning of giving students hands-on exercises around a big idea, a third grade teacher announced it was time for lunch.

“’But when do we start math?’ the kids asked her,” reports Jenay Enna, the director of curriculum, instruction and assessment. “They were used to seeing math as exercises in a workbook.”

 The State Board is expected to adopt the framework, last adopted in 2013, this summer. In his commentary, Wakelyn wrote that help can’t come too soon for besieged teachers. 

“The materials and know-how to embed support for prerequisites from several earlier grades does not exist,” he wrote. “To expect teachers, especially in middle and high school, to figure this out on their own places unnecessary stress on an already exhausted workforce.” 

Do you count on EdSource’s reporting daily? Make your donation today to our year end fundraising campaign by Dec. 31st to keep us going without a paywall or ads.

Share Article

Comments (55)

Leave a Reply to William Yeh

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * *

Comments Policy

We welcome your comments. All comments are moderated for civility, relevance and other considerations. Click here for EdSource's Comments Policy.

  1. Nathan 2 months ago2 months ago

    While I completely agree with the decline in test scores, it’s hard to prove these are solely a result of Covid as opposed to teachers just giving up on teaching math or problem-solving in the early grades.

  2. Fia 6 months ago6 months ago

    Regarding putting students in a class appropriate for their tested abilities, I would like to say this was very helpful for me in reading. As s fifth grader, I tested at a 2nd level in reading, and was able to relearn how to read at 10 years old. This was wonderful to for me. I had changed schools and really liked this new system. Whether the subject is math or reading, being in a … Read More

    Regarding putting students in a class appropriate for their tested abilities, I would like to say this was very helpful for me in reading. As s fifth grader, I tested at a 2nd level in reading, and was able to relearn how to read at 10 years old. This was wonderful to for me. I had changed schools and really liked this new system. Whether the subject is math or reading, being in a class where you cannot learn is detrimental. Maybe my brain wasn’t ready for reading. In any case, this tiered system made all the difference. I went in to be an excellent student (and majored in English).

  3. Walt 7 months ago7 months ago

    What a word salad of useless takes from educators. Time for vouchers.

  4. Eva 8 months ago8 months ago

    Do you know why Asian students did well in math? Because their families spent a lot of time to make up of what schools don't teach them well. As an Asian mom, I read the math books again and teach my kids. And let them practice math every day. I don't use common core because it treats math as English writing and reading which are jokes. Elementary schools should have math teachers, English teachers, Science … Read More

    Do you know why Asian students did well in math? Because their families spent a lot of time to make up of what schools don’t teach them well. As an Asian mom, I read the math books again and teach my kids. And let them practice math every day. I don’t use common core because it treats math as English writing and reading which are jokes. Elementary schools should have math teachers, English teachers, Science teachers and History teachers so that the teachers can prepare very well for teaching the students just like in middle schools and high schools.

    Replies

    • Joe 5 months ago5 months ago

      Yep gobbledegook. Most of my parents want me to fix their students because “Me and my student's dad don’t have the time to help and we don’t do well in math either.” That is strike 1 against the student. Expecting online tools that throw a video per topic is strike 2. Strike 3 is that there is nothing in most curricula that use spiral approaches, so it becomes one topic onto the next topic and … Read More

      Yep gobbledegook. Most of my parents want me to fix their students because “Me and my student’s dad don’t have the time to help and we don’t do well in math either.” That is strike 1 against the student. Expecting online tools that throw a video per topic is strike 2. Strike 3 is that there is nothing in most curricula that use spiral approaches, so it becomes one topic onto the next topic and very little cross pollination, spiraling. Look at the most successful charter schools in the country. They understand that from 1st grade on, you must spiral to integrate the topics.

  5. Thomas Trang 8 months ago8 months ago

    Lol. That is what California gets for using politics in teaching. Just because a person with a teaching credential doesn’t mean she or he can teach. If the person doesn’t have the passion or drive to teach holding a valid California teaching is useless as evidenced. I refused to get a teaching credential; I have master of mathematics education. I can teach and have the passion and drive to teach and … Read More

    Lol. That is what California gets for using politics in teaching. Just because a person with a teaching credential doesn’t mean she or he can teach. If the person doesn’t have the passion or drive to teach holding a valid California teaching is useless as evidenced. I refused to get a teaching credential; I have master of mathematics education. I can teach and have the passion and drive to teach and have been privately tutoring for the past 20 years. It is sad and unfortunate that many school did not hire me because I lack of the teaching credential. Although I lack of the teaching credential (politics), I can teach and have the passion and drive to teach.

  6. School Employees and Mom 8 months ago8 months ago

    I think the real problem, which it seems isn't going to change anytime soon, is just what many have said – "Common Core." There are numerous articles that demonstrate that it is failing to improve math understanding. The concepts are washed out and while yes, maybe it helps the small percent of kids that are "nontraditional thinkers," the majority of kids can benefit from more traditional ways of learning math. If kids need extra and … Read More

    I think the real problem, which it seems isn’t going to change anytime soon, is just what many have said – “Common Core.” There are numerous articles that demonstrate that it is failing to improve math understanding. The concepts are washed out and while yes, maybe it helps the small percent of kids that are “nontraditional thinkers,” the majority of kids can benefit from more traditional ways of learning math.

    If kids need extra and non-traditional ways of learning, that’s what tutoring and after school support should be for. Take us back to simpler concepts

  7. William Yeh 8 months ago8 months ago

    Asian students are the only group that excelled at Math during this period. Yet no one wants to ask why and how that is. Why doesn’t anyone want to find out why and what we can learn to apply to other struggling students

  8. Michael J 8 months ago8 months ago

    One of the problems I notice is that Math has become more abstract and educators are pushing more and more Algebraic concepts onto many students that are not developmentally ready (possibly to compete with international students). And this is without mastery of the 4 basic concepts (adding, subtracting, multiplication and division) that will be use most often later in life (Not every student is college bound.) Another problem is the the method of teaching the … Read More

    One of the problems I notice is that Math has become more abstract and educators are pushing more and more Algebraic concepts onto many students that are not developmentally ready (possibly to compete with international students). And this is without mastery of the 4 basic concepts (adding, subtracting, multiplication and division) that will be use most often later in life (Not every student is college bound.)

    Another problem is the the method of teaching the children is multiple and confusing ways instead of simplifying the process with one method. Finally the Math books need more step by step instruction so students and the adults assisting them can be more effective after school.

  9. Stephen M Raya 8 months ago8 months ago

    Maybe if they stopped using the core math and went back to traditional teaching this wouldn’t be a issue core math is so confusing

  10. James Ribe 8 months ago8 months ago

    In one classroom you have students who are at the eighth grade level and students who are at the fourth grade level. This article demonstrates that that approach is unworkable. In fact it is a train wreck that threatens to destroy public education in this state. No wonder there is a stampede of families out of the public schools!

  11. Casey Cavanaugh 8 months ago8 months ago

    Perhaps the materials and methods have something to do with the terrible math scores. I've been teaching at an elementary school for 20 years, and our professional development when it comes to math is focused on students making up their own algorithms and using mental math rather than using a standard algorithm that you can apply to all situations. If the district adopted materials don't expect you to teach much, there isn't much chance it's … Read More

    Perhaps the materials and methods have something to do with the terrible math scores. I’ve been teaching at an elementary school for 20 years, and our professional development when it comes to math is focused on students making up their own algorithms and using mental math rather than using a standard algorithm that you can apply to all situations. If the district adopted materials don’t expect you to teach much, there isn’t much chance it’s going to happen.

  12. Janie 8 months ago8 months ago

    I have visited many elementary school in my region. Almost all the teachers are simply walking young students through the workbooks that they've been given. Students are also spending time daily on drill online programs like IXL that are not even coordinated with the workbooks. These curriculum products are teaching math, not the teachers who know the students. This seems to be the culture of the schools among the teachers who are overwhelmed or not … Read More

    I have visited many elementary school in my region. Almost all the teachers are simply walking young students through the workbooks that they’ve been given. Students are also spending time daily on drill online programs like IXL that are not even coordinated with the workbooks. These curriculum products are teaching math, not the teachers who know the students. This seems to be the culture of the schools among the teachers who are overwhelmed or not confident enough to teach math themselves and fortified by administrators who require teachers to teach to curriculum “with fidelity.”

    Whatever standards we have or do not have, just following a workbook written by someone far away will leave many students behind and even more with no love for learning math. A solution? Allow teachers to use their professional judgment; give them time to work together and support each other; acknowledge math instruction that develops understanding. Lower the stakes of standardized tests. Begin academic training at age seven or so; allow our young children to learn by play, the way they were designed to learn.

  13. Jennifer Centeno 8 months ago8 months ago

    Teacher training is what is needed. Teachers need to be retrained to teach the best methods for teaching math. Kids have very little number sense. If teachers are not given various ways of helping kids master numeracy, this cycle will not end. Teacher aides need training as well. They have to also have the skills to know where the holes are in the students' education to know what they need when they are working in … Read More

    Teacher training is what is needed. Teachers need to be retrained to teach the best methods for teaching math. Kids have very little number sense. If teachers are not given various ways of helping kids master numeracy, this cycle will not end. Teacher aides need training as well. They have to also have the skills to know where the holes are in the students’ education to know what they need when they are working in small groups.

    In addition to this, so much is crammed into a year’s worth of math standards that it is difficult to get through all the material when kids are at grade level. When they are so far behind, something has to give. We need to spend more time helping kids deeply understand math rather than just giving them a taste and then moving on to the next standard. Teacher training and more time for mastery of the basic concepts are what will propel us forward.

  14. Ev 8 months ago8 months ago

    In primary and secondary education rather than focusing on improvements we are diluting it even further promoting less important social agenda.

  15. Kathy 8 months ago8 months ago

    If they keep promoting kids to the next grade that can’t read and write to their grade level, eventually it will become a national security issue, when as adults, they can’t interpret info. properly, because they don’t have the skills.

    Replies

    • Dennis Lee 8 months ago8 months ago

      Exactly

  16. Jennifer Hanson 8 months ago8 months ago

    The problem isn’t the pandemic it’s that BS common core they’re teaching kids now. It’s the dumbing down of our future generations!!

  17. Kentaro 8 months ago8 months ago

    "There’s a wider range of levels where students are right now. Some sixth graders are at third grade level and some are in eighth grade,” she said. The wide disparity in math ability among public school children has existed forever. We really can't put all the blame on Covid for 6th graders who work at 3rd grade level, or 3rd graders working at 1st grade level. We certainly wouldn't blame it for 6th graders working at … Read More

    “There’s a wider range of levels where students are right now. Some sixth graders are at third grade level and some are in eighth grade,” she said.

    The wide disparity in math ability among public school children has existed forever. We really can’t put all the blame on Covid for 6th graders who work at 3rd grade level, or 3rd graders working at 1st grade level. We certainly wouldn’t blame it for 6th graders working at 8th grade level or 1st graders working at 3rd grade level, would we? These phenomena originate the same way: parents.

    Before I retired from public school teaching, I proposed a project of interviewing the parents of the mathematically advanced students and the remedial students in our school to shed some light on differences in study habits in the home. This was shot down because the kids who were really good at math were only White and Asian and the school didn’t want to deal with people saying it was racist or genetic. Too bad, because I’m pretty sure it would been a great benefit to parents of remedial students to find out what they could be doing differently at home, even if genetics is a big part of it. Maybe a private school would have more freedom to undertake such a survey.

  18. RB 8 months ago8 months ago

    And this should come as no surprise, as this data has been forthcoming for decades. What would be fantastic would be to place this performance data in juxtaposition to private school performance, however, that might be a wee bit too difficult for most to stomach. Student preparation has become so insignificant in the household as well, whereby many "parents" are not engaged with student work, and, if they are deficient, which is an argument that … Read More

    And this should come as no surprise, as this data has been forthcoming for decades. What would be fantastic would be to place this performance data in juxtaposition to private school performance, however, that might be a wee bit too difficult for most to stomach.

    Student preparation has become so insignificant in the household as well, whereby many “parents” are not engaged with student work, and, if they are deficient, which is an argument that has been proposed through the ages, further exacerbates student apathy. This is a matter that any person of reasonable mind should certainly grasp – the ability to learn is not the same as a desire to learn, and often the presentation by administrative “leaders” is statistically and fundamentally a lie.

    How is it that a school will boast that 95% of a class graduated, yet the reading/mathematical abilities of the student population of that very same class is 4-5 years behind competency? This problem has been around for ages, as schools have become more focused of social proficiency than academic proficiency. Grade retention rarely occurs. Inflation of grades are administrative order (and if you asked for legitimate evidence to support that, I would be happy to provide such information).

    Furthermore, in evaluating school administration, often it is the case that the same parties operating school districts are equally deficient in academics (sometimes the sharpest kids are more knowledgeable in core areas than those who make decisions in the district). Through this period of Covid, society has “praised” educators for a “job well done; but look at the data again. Compare performance indicators of virtual school versus virtual home school learning performance and you will find correlation. For those of you old enough, you will surely recall the model of “new math” in the late 1960’s…and the “manipulative math model” of the 1990’s…the outcomes were destructive.

    In closing, reason is not always met with the “best of intentions, as demonstrated that in the 1970’s the United States was to adopt the metric system in entirety, and now the United States, Liberia and Myanmar (formerly Burma) are the only nations on Earth still stuck in the standard system of measurement. Just saying…

  19. Rebecca 8 months ago8 months ago

    The switch to common core math was disastrous. The texts books were not ready/age appropriate; parents could no longer help children with homework and in our family's experience, many teachers did not know how to teach it or if they did, children may have already been "left behind" by their previous teacher not knowing how to teach it. We tried to hire tutors but couldn't find anyone who knew how to teach it. Surprised your … Read More

    The switch to common core math was disastrous. The texts books were not ready/age appropriate; parents could no longer help children with homework and in our family’s experience, many teachers did not know how to teach it or if they did, children may have already been “left behind” by their previous teacher not knowing how to teach it. We tried to hire tutors but couldn’t find anyone who knew how to teach it. Surprised your article just focuses on Covid but part of the problem of math during Covid is, again, inability of parents to help kids because they don’t themselves understand common core math.

  20. Jonathan Roland 8 months ago8 months ago

    What percentage of the questions must a student get right to obtain a 2586 scaled score? 80%? 50%? 10%? Until the raw score to scaled score conversion is made public, the Smarter Balanced test is……

  21. Anne Lilje 8 months ago8 months ago

    How about stopping all this piecemeal situation and do what we did when we were #1 in math and sience 50 years ago - pay teachers high salaries and require more education. Hire enough to teach classes of < 15 - 20 children at a time. As long as we are paying teachers 20K - 40K a year but paying administrators 100K a year we will continue to fail. We will become the third world … Read More

    How about stopping all this piecemeal situation and do what we did when we were #1 in math and sience 50 years ago – pay teachers high salaries and require more education. Hire enough to teach classes of < 15 – 20 children at a time. As long as we are paying teachers 20K – 40K a year but paying administrators 100K a year we will continue to fail. We will become the third world country we are aspiring to be.

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 8 months ago8 months ago

      Anne, not to take issue with your points, but your salaries are outdated. Please go here in Ed-Data under average teacher salaries.

  22. Amal 8 months ago8 months ago

    Additional evidence to the failure of Common Core math implementation. Not sure about other states, but California schools did a very poor job of rolling that out. Can’t blame it all on the pandemic either. The pandemic was everywhere, not just California.

  23. Randall 8 months ago8 months ago

    The problem is there is no total immersion in basic concepts anymore with Common Core. A little bit here and a little bit there isn’t going to benefit any grade level. Back 30 years ago there was Modern Math taught that also bombed. Math has been around a long time and doesn’t need bells and whistles. When I taught high school math I tried to make it visual and had great success.

  24. Homeschool Parent 8 months ago8 months ago

    This is why I homeschool. My 2nd grader is starting 3rd grade math this week and is a phenomenal reader, already reading chapterbooks and complex words at lightning speed. My 4th grader has struggled for the past two years with her math and ELA. She is two grades behind in a lot of skills. She's slow to develop her skills and confidence, but is progressing daily. I just have to take my … Read More

    This is why I homeschool. My 2nd grader is starting 3rd grade math this week and is a phenomenal reader, already reading chapterbooks and complex words at lightning speed. My 4th grader has struggled for the past two years with her math and ELA. She is two grades behind in a lot of skills. She’s slow to develop her skills and confidence, but is progressing daily. I just have to take my time with her and stop the comparison with her and her peers, and even her brother. It’s not healthy and helpful.

    Public school is too data tracking focused. They forget about the social and emotional well being of these kids which is need to develop their confidence and motivation to learn. If education keeps going this way then kids will perpetually be behind the arbitrarily based standards and timeline “experts” put in place. I could be here hours listing out all the famous people who failed in school, but became successful after their school years through self-taught instruction and motivations. School was designed to be a hyper-controlling governmental organizational babysitter for working parents that limits and inhibits children’s creative and critical thinking skills. It tends to promote mindless group think minions.

    Never too late to jump to a public charter and get funds to homeschool your kids or private school affidavit. Great for remote working parents. How many of us parents were already doing a ton of after school homework anyway? It’s too much pressure being placed on kids too early in their lives. No wonder suicide rates are increasing each year among our youth even before the pandemic started. Stop the madness California.

    Replies

    • Kentaro 8 months ago8 months ago

      Homeschooled kids can definitely run circles around public school kids academically if the parents are educated/smart enough and put moderate effort into lesson planning. Anyone getting personalized instruction one-on-one is going to come out ahead of someone getting a generic version of that same instruction in a class of 30 students of varying abilities. That's why parents of public school students must implement some kind of routine for doing homework with their kids as if … Read More

      Homeschooled kids can definitely run circles around public school kids academically if the parents are educated/smart enough and put moderate effort into lesson planning. Anyone getting personalized instruction one-on-one is going to come out ahead of someone getting a generic version of that same instruction in a class of 30 students of varying abilities. That’s why parents of public school students must implement some kind of routine for doing homework with their kids as if it were a private tutoring session.

      Parental involvement (and to some extent the cognitive abilities of the parents) is what distinguishes the advanced students from the ones who fall behind and can’t catch up. No amount of curriculum revamping is ever going to address that fundamental issue.

  25. Angry Abe 8 months ago8 months ago

    The best foundation a student can have for improving math knowledge is to memorize the multiplication tables at least up to nine. I insisted that every one of my fifth graders knew their multiplication tables before moving on to sixth grade. I got a lot of flack from parents and principals, but when they saw my test results at year’s end, they couldn’t argue with me.

  26. Angry parent 8 months ago8 months ago

    Common Core math is the culprit. Math grades started falling upon it's inception . Most kids rely on their cellphone to google answers to math problems. Parents know how hard it is to take a ipad or cell phone away from an 8th grader. Good luck! Kids should be made to stay after school to work on math problems that they are having problems with. Keeping up with math is important because if you … Read More

    Common Core math is the culprit. Math grades started falling upon it’s inception . Most kids rely on their cellphone to google answers to math problems. Parents know how hard it is to take a ipad or cell phone away from an 8th grader. Good luck! Kids should be made to stay after school to work on math problems that they are having problems with. Keeping up with math is important because if you miss any steps you will struggle.

  27. John sellers 8 months ago8 months ago

    Concerning the article, "Student math scores touch off ‘five-alarm fire’ in California". When I was 16, about 61 years ago, I traveled to India by myself. I met some kids who were studying Calculus in the equivalent of our 8th grade. The textbooks that they were studying were falling apart because they were so old. The people I stayed with were christianized and the two girls that were in the family that we … Read More

    Concerning the article, “Student math scores touch off ‘five-alarm fire’ in California”.

    When I was 16, about 61 years ago, I traveled to India by myself. I met some kids who were studying Calculus in the equivalent of our 8th grade. The textbooks that they were studying were falling apart because they were so old.
    The people I stayed with were christianized and the two girls that were in the family that we were my host were both 22 years old and had their Master’s degrees.

    I think kids can learn more depending on circumstances and motivation.

    The class that I was part of was highly motivated in science because my father build a chemistry lab and a machine shop in the back yard of our 800 ft² home. He singlehandedly did it himself, with just his two hands putting on stone on top of another. At birthday parties or other events on a few other occasions he always let us kids see the chem lab and the shop. We got to look at the moon with a telescope, and dad would show the neighborhood kids a few tricks with chemistry, and once invited my boy scout group over. I never asked why he did it, but he was a nice person, and he grew up very poor. He used to tell us about seeing the stars through the cracks in the roof of his home.

    Dad never forced us to learn, but there was a natural interest in math and science because of the catalyst of him just being there.

    As a result, despite me being naturally slow and a bit lazy except for what I was interested in. I was not all that smart but never knew that because of the encouragement of my parents. I won first in my division in the state-wide math contest for all high school math students in Arizona.

    Also in my senior year in high school, our class average was 99.2% in Trigonometry because of our interest in math that started with my father. I was the “black sheep” of my high school group because only did well in what I was interested in and quickly dropped out of college. But I built a million-volt Van de Graff generator in 8th grade.

    My next-door neighbor became an astronomer, the kid that lived in the next house ended up designing rockets at China Lake, and his sister ended up working at JPL.

    I am positive that all happened because of the interest we all had because of the catalyst of my Dad being there, not doing anything at all but just showing us a few things.

  28. Shelly Dawson 8 months ago8 months ago

    This is a direct result of the “core” curriculum which is superficial and avoids any in depth learning in Math. Jumping from topic to topic does not allow students to make the connections needed for learning and later recall which is crucial to having a foundation that can be built upon as math does.

  29. Mike 8 months ago8 months ago

    Lets see: 1. Distance learning completely disrupted education 2. Teachers union fought to keep schools in remote 3. Public school students attended 30-90 minutes of "synchronous" learning a day 4. School Enrollment is in massive decline 5. Test scores have bottomed out (yes even black nd black kids already at bottom before COVID dropped even further!) 6. District school boards & Union Reponses: - Eliminate charter schools to force kids back to public schools. - CDE will create "committees" … Read More

    Lets see:
    1. Distance learning completely disrupted education
    2. Teachers union fought to keep schools in remote
    3. Public school students attended 30-90 minutes of “synchronous” learning a day
    4. School Enrollment is in massive decline
    5. Test scores have bottomed out (yes even black nd black kids already at bottom before COVID dropped even further!)
    6. District school boards & Union Reponses:
    – Eliminate charter schools to force kids back to public schools.
    – CDE will create “committees” to study the declines.
    – Pay $25,000 to persons to become counselors (even though they have no training)

    Districts and teachers unions are the problem. The system was broken and will now get far worse and the districts and union crony school board know absolutely nothing about strategic approaches to the problems. They instead focus on closing innovations in the community than fostering them. Taxpayers need to revolt on these idiots.

    Vote wisely and anyone who says they want to eliminate charter schools to bring kids back, need to be voted out. It is your money, not theirs!

  30. Nicholas Weinberger 8 months ago8 months ago

    I blame bad teaching tools like common core.

  31. william Gee 8 months ago8 months ago

    You wrote: “Even though those students generally reflect the state’s demographics, experts said it would be improper to generalize from that number.” If the results had indicated an increase in math scores, instead of a decrease in scores, I strongly suspect that most people would be embracing the numbers instead of questioning the sample size and sampling process.

  32. el 8 months ago8 months ago

    In The Olden Days of Yore, tracking indeed had the impact of permanently dividing kids into a high achieving track and a low achieving track. This was because once you left the higher achieving track there was no path back to it, and because of the very rigid structures where you went to a class and did the curriculum for that class. But what if we did something totally different? What if we set students up … Read More

    In The Olden Days of Yore, tracking indeed had the impact of permanently dividing kids into a high achieving track and a low achieving track. This was because once you left the higher achieving track there was no path back to it, and because of the very rigid structures where you went to a class and did the curriculum for that class.

    But what if we did something totally different? What if we set students up in systems that weren’t rigid, but would let them both slow down and speed back up and accelerate back into the highest class? With computers, we do have the ability to let students work at a separate pace from their classmates. Maybe you finish 8th grade math when you successfully pass these 5 units… and you can do that in a month, a year, or two years. Could we make that work functionally? Setting aside the costs, and the logistics for change, what would that look like, what would be lost, and what would be gained?

    I expect there’s significant concern that without a hard deadline, that the students who are struggling will check out. How would we solve it? What incentives can we create? What intrinsic rewards can be created in the work? If group work is beneficial for these students, how do you leverage a group in this arrangement? How can staff facilitate students through the material when they are working at different paces? What if there was an end-of-class exam and as soon as you passed it you could stop going to that class?

    Sometimes I think that the way we track students through on our strict timelines isn’t very healthy. A student struggling emotionally or physically may need a break that isn’t on the Official Calendar. And at other times, they may be ready to soar through the material quickly. Our system has almost no opportunities to accelerate, only to lose, and especially if you have the poor judgement to have a personal crisis during an exam week.

    We’ve built a lot of new materials and systems that give us so many more options, especially when in person on the school site. Can we give ourselves a few beats to think about ways to integrate them in to make school better? It’s not like these scores were amazing before. We can’t improve without change, and we can’t make good change or transformative growth without having some risk.

    Replies

    • Paul Muench 8 months ago8 months ago

      Khan Academy?

  33. Tim Melvin 8 months ago8 months ago

    While this is happening the California Community College Chancellor's Office is banning all California Community Colleges from offering remedial (below transfer level) math and English classes, so students will no longer be able to use California Community Colleges to make up for any gaps in their high school education. If you think California Community College students should have access to all educational opportunities please sign the petition against the ban of all pretransfer … Read More

    While this is happening the California Community College Chancellor’s Office is banning all California Community Colleges from offering remedial (below transfer level) math and English classes, so students will no longer be able to use California Community Colleges to make up for any gaps in their high school education. If you think California Community College students should have access to all educational opportunities please sign the petition against the ban of all pretransfer level Math and English class at all California Community Colleges: https://chng.it/qsmskRrzc6

  34. Lisa Disbrow 8 months ago8 months ago

    The 5 alarm fire raging in California includes all core subject areas: reading, math, writing, science, and history. This is not new information. It is the problem the education establishment loves to promise to address but never does. Rahm Emmanuel borrowed the phrase now used by politicians of both parties, “ Never let a crisis go to waste.” The education establishment can grow the unions membership, increase the number of grants studying the problems, imagine … Read More

    The 5 alarm fire raging in California includes all core subject areas: reading, math, writing, science, and history.

    This is not new information. It is the problem the education establishment loves to promise to address but never does. Rahm Emmanuel borrowed the phrase now used by politicians of both parties, “ Never let a crisis go to waste.” The education establishment can grow the unions membership, increase the number of grants studying the problems, imagine more solutions, write new curricula with new consultants and continuously feed the education establishment off of taxpayers money.

    Where’s the incentive to raise student achievement? I don’t hear school boards at any of our local districts even mention the words; reading, math, writing science, history.

  35. Michael Batie PhD 8 months ago8 months ago

    I have communicated to Mr. Fensterwald on multiple occasions about mathematics and the abject failure of our Black and Brown students in this area. Please notice from the data presented that this is really a crisis for students of color, though White students have also become victims of this crisis to a much lesser degree. We can expect more of the same with respect the responses. More PD, teacher prep, coaching etc. … Read More

    I have communicated to Mr. Fensterwald on multiple occasions about mathematics and the abject failure of our Black and Brown students in this area. Please notice from the data presented that this is really a crisis for students of color, though White students have also become victims of this crisis to a much lesser degree. We can expect more of the same with respect the responses. More PD, teacher prep, coaching etc. that has zero effect on student of color. This website http://www.michaelbatie.com/settlement/ presents what happens when $150M was spent on underperforming schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District and the total lack of improvement that resulted from the expenditures. There are solutions out there, but alas our math phobic elementary school teachers, and myopic administrators are not the ones that can ameliorate this travesty.

  36. Dennis Higgins 8 months ago8 months ago

    I am absolutely delighted to see this issue being discussed --not just in regard to the unacceptable racial stratification involved, but in regard to the difficulty of teaching and learning math generally. Math education in America going back to the 1930's has been a pendulum swing between "discovery math" (where the goal is to get students to understand math) and "algorithmic math" (where students are taught the steps to crank out the correct answer). … Read More

    I am absolutely delighted to see this issue being discussed –not just in regard to the unacceptable racial stratification involved, but in regard to the difficulty of teaching and learning math generally. Math education in America going back to the 1930’s has been a pendulum swing between “discovery math” (where the goal is to get students to understand math) and “algorithmic math” (where students are taught the steps to crank out the correct answer).

    Discovery math is difficult to accomplish, in practice, on a classroom level but it seems necessary so we have to try. Algorithmic math is much easier to accomplish, but it leaves students with an inherently meaningless set of memorized rules that, practically, cannot be built upon in higher math or inform the student about the mathematical nature of the world. So we try discovery math for a while, see how impossible that seems to be, go back to algorithmic math for a while, see how useless it really is, and then go back to discovery math (which is where I hope we are now).

    The way out of this pendulum swing is technology. It should be surprising to everyone that, in a system (education) which is primarily about the flow of information, computers are hardly used at all! Discovery math is indeed attainable but really only individually with one-on-one instruction between student and teacher. I did this for many years as a learning center math teacher using the Socratic Method. But I tried it with a whole class once, and it self-destructed. With computer technology, we can find ways to implement discovery-based learning with full classroom instruction. A big downside of my previous one-on-one work is that my students were isolated from one another. That made it too lonely for many of them, and they left the course.

    As we cast around (once again!) for discovery math solutions that work, we should be looking for novel, computer-based solutions that: 1) provide individual interactivity, 2) are truly discovery (and don’t just teach algorithms), and 3) involve students interacting with one another. Maybe this time we can get it right and break out of the pendulum we’ve been trapped in for the last 100 years.

  37. Rebecca Zoglman 8 months ago8 months ago

    Does any of this analysis take into account that only 25% of students took that test last year. With the waiver to use local tests, the percent of students who took CAASPP was 25%. So we are drawing conclusions from exactly what, comparing it to exactly what and with what percent of accuracy?

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 8 months ago8 months ago

      Rebecca, yes, the article makes that point as a caution on how to use the data. Others say that reservation notwithstanding, the data should be taken seriously and are consistent with what other local assessments have found and teachers see firsthand.

      • Doug McRae 8 months ago8 months ago

        This post (and its various comments) reminds me of Peter Schrag's columns in the SacBee in the 1990's on Reading Wars (phonics vs whole language), Math Wars (discovery vs memory), and STAR Wars (instructional vs achievement assessments). Just stick around 25 years watching CA curriculum/learning Wars, and the differences of opinion largely repeat themselves. John, I don't agree with your justification for a post that relies on 2019-21 gains with less than 25 percent non-random sampling … Read More

        This post (and its various comments) reminds me of Peter Schrag’s columns in the SacBee in the 1990’s on Reading Wars (phonics vs whole language), Math Wars (discovery vs memory), and STAR Wars (instructional vs achievement assessments). Just stick around 25 years watching CA curriculum/learning Wars, and the differences of opinion largely repeat themselves.

        John, I don’t agree with your justification for a post that relies on 2019-21 gains with less than 25 percent non-random sampling participation data. In my annual Smarter Balanced consortium-wide gain data document released mid-Feb, 2022, before collecting data from 12 Smarter Balanced states I determined that statewide participation data in the 80 to 100 % bucket would support valid/reliable 2019-21 gain data, that participation data in the 50 to 80 % bucket would support weighted adjustments for major demographic groups before calculating gain scores, and that participation data in the less than 50 % bucket could not support valid/reliable data analyses or conclusions. Seven states (CT, HI, ID, MT, SD, VT, and WA) had participation data in the 80-100 bucket, 3 states (DE, NV, and MI) had participation data in the 50-80 bucket, and 2 states (CA with 19 percent, OR with 33 percent) were in the less than 50 percent bucket. I did not include 2019-21 gain data for CA or OR in my data document since “the data are not sufficiently robust nor representative of actual statewide data.”

  38. David J Patterson 8 months ago8 months ago

    John, I think Chris Stampolis’s comments are very much on point. Very worthy of a broader conversation.

  39. Ellen Wheeler 8 months ago8 months ago

    What are Asian students (and their parents) doing to get those high test scores?

    Replies

    • Howard Roark 8 months ago8 months ago

      Same thing they’ve done for generations: preach the importance of education, watch your kids like a hawk and set high expectations.

  40. Chris Stampolis 8 months ago8 months ago

    John Fensterwald, you write: "But dividing students based on skills raises the prospect of tracking – a dead-end path for low-income kids of color." I suggest your hypothesis is unfounded. You have not assessed "tracking" in a 2022 reality. When you were a young man many decades ago, "tracking" likely meant that some students could become college-ready, while others would be "tracked" into non-college prep coursework. To use that presumption of white dominance … Read More

    John Fensterwald, you write: “But dividing students based on skills raises the prospect of tracking – a dead-end path for low-income kids of color.”

    I suggest your hypothesis is unfounded. You have not assessed “tracking” in a 2022 reality. When you were a young man many decades ago, “tracking” likely meant that some students could become college-ready, while others would be “tracked” into non-college prep coursework. To use that presumption of white dominance today no longer matches California’s reality.

    There are by far more Latinos enrolled in California State University than any other ethnicity. There are more Latino students enrolled in UC than white students. All of those students earned admission without affirmative action, instead earning admission based on academic performance.

    What you are missing in your analysis is that Latinos are by far the largest human demographic in California. Whites are the state’s largest (though shrinking) minority, not the majority. And whites never again will be a plurality of California residents. Appendix H of the Calfornia Census 2020 Outreach Report (https://census.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2021/05/California-Census-2020-Outreach-and-Communications-Campaign-Final-Report-5.11.2021.pdf) shows that with the exception of Hawaii, California has the lowest percentage of white residents of any state – less than 37%. When one filters to review the numbers for school age California residents, Latino youth rise above 50% statewide, with “white kids” now having dropped below 30%. Further, the census category of “white” includes all California residents of Middle Eastern or Eastern European heritage, so the percentage of traditional “whites” is even smaller than it appears.

    I ask you John to flip your entire perspective to look at the reality of California today – and the clear projections of California tomorrow. Perceive California as a Latino dominant state, with a decreasing percentage of whites. If we want to assess educational preparedness of today’s young Californians, the question is not about whether to “track” kids of color because tracking presumed the dominance of a white majority that impacted “minority” kids of color by limiting their opportunities.

    Today it’s just about proficiency. There are many Latino kids who are kicking butt and earning their way into UC and CSU dominance. There are many more Latino kids who are falling way behind. In Wyoming for example, one could say the same thing about White kids. There are many white kids in non-diverse Wyoming who are earning their way into university admission while there are many more white kids in Wyoming who are falling behind. Wyoming is a white state. California is a brown state. We can’t effectively aggregate the high achieving Latino students and the lower-performing Latino students together into one demographic container and arrive at any conclusions because California is a Latino-dominant state.

    The only way “up” for low-skill students is through remediation. There are more low-skill students of color because there are more students of color overall. However, that also means there are more high-skill students of color than there are high-skill whites because the population of students of color is so much larger overall than the shrinking, nearly evaporating pool of white kids. The kids who need remediation will have to put in many hours of catch-up work, but that does not mean that high-achieving Latino kids will slow their overall academic dominance. The numbers of Latino-heritage kids now are so large in California that Latino achievement both dominates the top and at the bottom tiers of achievement at the same time!

    Chris Stampolis
    Santa Clara

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 8 months ago8 months ago

      Chris, thanks for your comment. I did not write this with a hypothesis in mind, and, other than including a graph on performance by race, whose depressing findings speak for themselves, did not write this article through the lens of race. The issue that the article raises is remediation, lost learning, recovery -- choose your term. The majority of students in the state are below standard; they were before the pandemic and are farther behind … Read More

      Chris, thanks for your comment. I did not write this with a hypothesis in mind, and, other than including a graph on performance by race, whose depressing findings speak for themselves, did not write this article through the lens of race. The issue that the article raises is remediation, lost learning, recovery — choose your term. The majority of students in the state are below standard; they were before the pandemic and are farther behind now because of it – perhaps as many as four grades behind in skills and knowledge for low-income students, who make up more than 60% of students in the state.

      How best to make up ground is a mammoth challenge for teachers already working hard. The article mentions some of the components: effective curriculums (a lot aren’t), well-trained elementary teachers who build kids’ confidence and interest in math, and more than one adult in the classroom to allow for small-group help for at least part of the day. The priority should start in schools where the most kids are furthest behind, regardless of race and ethnicity.

  41. Michael Chow 8 months ago8 months ago

    All the math curriculum in the world won’t help if the teachers dont have a deep understanding of the material and cant explain it and answer questions about it. I taught math for many years and was astounded by the lack of teacher understanding of what math is and the underlying concepts. Only teachers with a math or engineering degree should be teaching math, starting with first grade.

    Replies

    • Kevin 8 months ago8 months ago

      I have an Engineering Degree and more than 8 years experience applying math in the field. I am currently seeking to become a math teacher, but I am going to drop out. The high opportunity cost of 1.5 years of lost income is not worth it. The intro courses just preach social justice, and the evils of standardized testing. The social justice is demoralizing, and reduces all I've achieved to my WASPy opening … Read More

      I have an Engineering Degree and more than 8 years experience applying math in the field. I am currently seeking to become a math teacher, but I am going to drop out.

      The high opportunity cost of 1.5 years of lost income is not worth it. The intro courses just preach social justice, and the evils of standardized testing. The social justice is demoralizing, and reduces all I’ve achieved to my WASPy opening hand. Standardized testing is the only reason I’ve made it this far.

      There is a labor shortage, so a math or engineering degree should not be required. One can pass the CSET:Math with just some studying and mastery of high school math.

      A more reasonable policy proposal would be to pay student teachers and those seeking a credential, especially in needed fields. Payment for training would reduce the wasted time in the credentialing process.

      Another more reasonable policy is to make the CBEST’s math section harder.

      Recruiting highly compensated employees will be hard. The least the CTC could do is welcome them with open arms.

      • Kevin 8 months ago8 months ago

        BTW, the theory that high school math should be enough to pass the CSET:Math should be tested. Send best of AP Calculus BC to take it.

      • Michael Chow 8 months ago8 months ago

        I have met quite a few math teachers who, like myself, have math or engineering degrees and many years of industry experience. They all teach in private schools, where the emphasis is on academics instead of "social justice." I agree that many credential programs are a total waste of time and money. Public school teaching has been taken over by ideologues and the all-powerful teachers union. Teacher exams such as CSET mostly test computation, which … Read More

        I have met quite a few math teachers who, like myself, have math or engineering degrees and many years of industry experience. They all teach in private schools, where the emphasis is on academics instead of “social justice.” I agree that many credential programs are a total waste of time and money. Public school teaching has been taken over by ideologues and the all-powerful teachers union. Teacher exams such as CSET mostly test computation, which is merely the grammar of mathematics. Passing that test does not mean a teacher has a conceptual understanding of mathematics. State standards are a minimum level of competency.

        It is interesting to watch what is happening in Oakland. Good private schools such as Head-Royce are expanding their campus due to high demand, while a few miles away, public elementary schools are being closed down due to lack of enrollment. The formula for school funding needs to change so that a highly qualified teacher like yourself can join with a few other teachers and start neighborhood “micro-schools” with 20 or so students and provide rigorous (most likely project-based) learning free of the ideological public school mess.