Daniel Koretz on Progress in Mathematics

Daniel Koretz: We have seen over the last 20 years an improvement in the mathematics performance of elementary school students that is faster and larger than the decline that got everyone so upset to begin with.  Now what’s odd is the decline was called by people, [the policy, both] large, alarming, catastrophic, and so on.  The increase has been called stagnation.  I don’t quite understand the logic.  I think, some of the people simply who do this simply don’t understand the data.  But what we’ve seen is relatively flat performance in reading, which is not as bad news as it seems because international comparison show that the United States is fairly good at teaching reading.  We have seen very large, very rapid consistent gains in performance in mathematics in elementary school, moderate-sized gains in middle school, and then the bad news, no real gains in high school.  So in mathematics, the bad news is not deterioration, it’s a failure to maintain the gains that young children have shown as they progress through school, that progress is eroded.

Daniel Koretz laments that math gains in elementary and middle schools are not maintained in high school.

Think of the closest planet to Earth... Wrong! Think again!

Three scientists publish paper proving that not Venus but Mercury is the closest planet to Earth

Strange Maps
  • Earth is the third planet from the Sun, so our closest neighbour must be planet two of four, right?
  • Wrong! Neither Venus nor Mars is the right answer.
  • Three scientists ran the numbers. In this YouTube video, one of them explains why our nearest neighbour is... Mercury!
Keep reading Show less

Scientists reactivate cells from 28,000-year-old woolly mammoth

"I was so moved when I saw the cells stir," said 90-year-old study co-author Akira Iritani. "I'd been hoping for this for 20 years."

Yamagata et al.
Surprising Science
  • The team managed to stimulate nucleus-like structures to perform some biological processes, but not cell division.
  • Unless better technology and DNA samples emerge in the future, it's unlikely that scientists will be able to clone a woolly mammoth.
  • Still, studying the DNA of woolly mammoths provides valuable insights into the genetic adaptations that allowed them to survive in unique environments.
Keep reading Show less

10 novels that brilliantly capture the American experience

The distance between the American dream and reality is expressed best through literature.

American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin poses at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979. (Photo: Ralph Gatti/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Literature expands our ability to feel empathy and inspires compassion.
  • These ten novels tackle some facet of the American experience.
  • The list includes a fictional retelling of the first Native American to graduate from Harvard and hiding out in inner city Newark.
Keep reading Show less