Testing, Math, and Music: Top 10 Curriculum Matters Posts for 2015
Each year, we take a look at Curriculum Matters' most-read blog posts, and in 2015 it seems two major themes got readers clicking: common-core testing and math instruction.
And that makes sense. This was the year that the majority of states switched over to standardized tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards. But the move to new tests was a fraught onemany states initially planned to use one common-core-aligned test and ultimately administered another. So readers needed to stay up to speed on the shifting testing landscape.
And with new tests come new concerns about curriculum and instructional strategies, so it's no suprise our posts on fractions, math memorization, and classroom assignments did well, too.
Here's a rundown of our top 10 posts for the year, starting with the most-viewed of all.
My colleagues Catherine Gewertz and Andrew Ujifusa painstakingly gathered testing plans from each state, which turned up a more fragmented national picture than the common-core initiative had once promised. This is a complete map of which states took what tests for the 2014-15 testing cycle.
In an interview, Hung-Hsi Wu, a professor emeritus of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, told me that the beginnings of math anxiety in students can often be traced to "the day they go to school and learn about fractions."
Parents would rather cut Advanced Placement or gym classes than music, according to a study that came out this spring.
In one of our most controversial posts of the year, Stanford math education professor Jo Boaler argues that U.S. math students do too much memorizing, which causes them to dislike the subject.
The optimal amount of homework for 13-year-old students is about an hour a day, a study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology found.
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers made the strange PR decision to let people know it had set cut scores for the test, without disclosing the actual numbers. A day later the group relented and published the cut scores.
An education consultant looked at Smarter Balanced's online practice tests for mathematics, and concluded that they were "a quagmire of poor technological design, poor interaction design, and poor mathematical design."
The Education Trust analyzed 1,500 student tasks assigned at six urban middle schools, and found that only about 2 in 5 were aligned to grade-appropriate common-core standards.
Interest in K-12 computer science has been on the rise, and the feds gave the subject a nod by including it in a new definition of STEM.
To me, this was the most fun blog post of the year. (It was certainly the most fun to write!) In it, Andy Weir, the author of the best-selling novel "The Martian," which also became a critically acclaimed film this year starring Matt Damon, talks about the process of writing a scientifically accurate book about a hypothetical space mission to Mars. And he offers a new lens that teachers may find helpful: The book is essentially a series of word problems, many of which can be solved using algebra-level math and science.
For more news and information on reading, math, and STEM instruction: Follow @LianaHeitin
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