Study Finds National Math Test Easier
Thu Nov 18, 7:40 AM ET
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By BEN FELLER, AP Education Writer
WASHINGTON - The national test of student math skills is filled with easy questions, raising doubts about recent gains in achievement tests, a study
On the eighth-grade version of the test, almost 40 percent of the questions address skills taught in first or second grade, according to the report by
Tom Loveless, director of the Brown Center on Education Policy at The Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.
The test for fourth-graders also has "false rigor," Loveless says: More than 40 percent of questions gauge first and second grade skills, two levels
below the students tested.
The central fault, Loveless contends, is that too many problem-solving questions rely on whole numbers, with too few challenges involving fractions,
decimals and percentages. Such instruction sets students up for trouble in more advanced high school classes and in daily life, where tasks such as
shopping and measuring rarely involve neat, round numbers, he said.
"If we want kids to be sophisticated problem solvers, they've got to be able to think beyond whole numbers," Loveless said. "That's just not good
Known as the nation's report card, the National Assessment of Educational Progress is the most widely respected measure of the skill levels of U.S.
students. Given to representative samples of students, it is offered periodically in many subjects, including math in 2003.
A leader of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets the test content, strongly disagreed with the findings, saying the study is flawed
because it is based on a questionable formula of what kids should know when.
I am sure that some may not agree, but I think that this is not totally a bad thing. Basic math skills should be known by everyone inside and out. Why
should we focus on more advanced math skills which may not be ever used again?