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Four-year-olds’ name-writing ability predicts their later achievement, research finds

TES – Kaye Wiggins

“Children who can write their name well when they start school perform better than other children at reading and maths later in life, research has found. The study, by Durham University and published today, shows name-writing ability is a “robust predictor” of later academic ability. It says that teachers should look at children’s name-writing skills as a way to identify underlying difficulties and offer extra support to those who are struggling. But it also finds that although there is a correlation, there is no evidence of a causal relationship between children’s ability to write their names and their later academic achievement…”(more)

Here’s why students need algebra

E-School News – Darren Glass

“In his recent book, “The Math Myth: And Other STEM Delusions,” political scientist Andrew Hacker argues, among other things, that we should not require high school students to take algebra. Part of his argument, based on data some have questioned, is that algebra courses are a major contributor to students dropping out of high school. He also argues that algebra is nothing more than an “enigmatic orbit of abstractions” that most people will never use in their jobs. There is no doubt that this kind of argument resonates with people who had bad experiences in a math class in their past, and for this reason Hacker’s book is getting lots of attention. On the other hand, there are many reasons why I and many others in the mathematical community disagree with Hacker’s opinions. Fundamentally, Hacker has a misunderstanding of what algebra is.”(more)

World Bank Study Shows Shanghai’s #1 Global Ranking in Reading, Math, & Science Rests on Strong Education System with Great Teachers

The World Bank – Staff Writer

“A new World Bank report shows that Shanghai’s stellar performance on international tests of student learning is linked to a strong education system with efficient public financing. Shanghai’s policies and investments have created a great teacher workforce, established clear learning standards and regular student assessments, and struck a balance between autonomy and accountability in school management. The comprehensive evaluation was conducted using SABER, the World Bank’s global platform for benchmarking education systems, and complemented with detailed school surveys. Released today, “How Shanghai Does It,” notes that the city’s education system stands out as one of the strongest in the world because it translates smart education policies into excellent learning results. Backed by this dynamic system, Shanghai has topped two consecutive rounds of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests in reading, mathematics and science. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) administers these tests to assess how well 15-year-olds have acquired the knowledge and skills needed to fully participate in knowledge-driven societies.”(more)

How A Strengths-Based Approach to Math Redefines Who Is ‘Smart’

KQED News Mind/Shift – Katrina Schwartz

“A group of young women who had graduated from high school between 1997 and 2006 sat at the front of the room crying and laughing about their experiences learning math at Railside High (a research pseudonym for the school). This session of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics annual meeting didn’t focus on any specific mathematical practice and yet it was enlightening — with the right approach, teachers can help kids who hate math feel like it’s their best subject. One after another, these young women, who had all graduated from an urban high school serving many kids living in poverty, described how math class made them feel safe, heard and able to express their ideas without fear.”(more)

How to teach … statistics

The Guardian – Zofia Niemtus

“Statistics are everywhere – from Brexit to Britain’s Got Talent. The way these numbers are presented – or manipulated – shape our understanding of the world. Just this month, a misleading representation of data on local elections caused a furore after being shared widely on Facebook. It’s important to equip your students with the skills to understand and interrogate figures so they can work out what they really mean. Here are some ideas on how you can make statistics add up in your classroom.”(more)

Calculators in Class: Use Them or Lose Them?

The Wall Street Journal – Jo Craven McGinty

“Are calculators a computational crutch that discourages children from memorizing their multiplication tables? Or are they a mathematical tool that helps them conquer complex problems? The debate over modern mathematics education may not be over, but the battle over calculators has largely been resolved—at least on paper. Calculators, experts say, can help elementary- and middle-school children develop skills to solve complex math problems. But students in lower grades seldom use the tool. According to the most recent National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education, conducted in 2012, 58% of elementary math classes had access to calculators, but only 13% used them at least once a week. A similar disparity existed at the middle-school level, where 77% of math classes had access to calculators, but only 40% used them weekly.”(more)