Daniel Koretz on Progress in Mathematics
Daniel Koretz is the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education. He focuses his research primarily on educational assessment, particularly as a tool of education policy. A primary emphasis in his work has been the effects of high-stakes testing, including effects on schooling and the validity of score gains. His research has included studies of the effects of testing programs, the assessment of students with disabilities, international differences in the variability of student achievement, the application of value-added models to educational achievement, and the development of methods for validating scores under high-stakes conditions. His current work focuses on the design and evaluation of test-focused educational accountability systems. Dr. Koretz founded and chairs the International Project for the Study of Educational Accountability, an international network of scholars investigating improved approaches to educational accountability. Dr. Koretz is a member of the National Academy of Education. His doctorate is in developmental psychology from Cornell University. Before obtaining his degree, Dr. Koretz taught emotionally disturbed students in public elementary and junior high schools.
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.