Opinion
Standards Letter to the Editor

Math Commentary Doesn’t Add Up

August 06, 2012 1 min read

William Schmidt claims his research “found an overlap of roughly 90 percent between the common math standards and the A+ [TIMSS high achievers] standards” (“Seizing the Moment for Mathematics,” July 18, 2012). Unfortunately, his own data, which can be found in a PowerPoint presentation at www.achieve.org, belie this claim.

The A+ country data in his PowerPoint show 99 intended grade-level topics spread over 32 topics and eight grades. The common-core data, shown later in the same presentation, include 131 grade-level topics spread over 35 topics and eight grades.

Perhaps the good professor would be so kind to explain how he got “roughly 90 percent correlation” when the common core has 30 percent more grade-level topics than the A+ countries to begin with.

And while he is at it, perhaps he would also explain why he needed to use a magician-like sleight of hand to rearrange the order of the common-core topics so they would give the impression of being visually similar to the A+ countries’ sequence. When, in reality, if both slides have the same order of topics, they would differ widely.

Perhaps Professor Schmidt seizes the moment a bit too enthusiastically.

Ze’ev Wurman

Palo Alto, Calif.

The writer served as a senior adviser in the U.S. Department of Education from 2007 to 2009.

A version of this article appeared in the August 08, 2012 edition of Education Week as Math Commentary Doesn’t Add Up

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