The Ohio State University at Newark

Ohio State Newark Professor of Mathematics Education Weighs in on Declining Nationwide Math Test Results

NEWARK, Ohio, October 30, 2015 — Math skills of American students have dropped for the first time in 25 years. The latest results from the nationwide test were released by the Education Department Wednesday (October 28). Some are blaming the new Common Core standards for the drop. The Ohio State University at Newark Professor of Mathematics Education Dr. Diana Erchick said she does not believe this will be a long-term issue.

“Teachers are learning how to teach the new standards using the mathematical practices as their guide,” said Erchick. “It is going to take some time for teachers and students to adjust.”

The Common Core standards have been adopted by more than 40 states, including Ohio. Teachers have changed their curriculum and instructional methods, particularly in math. Students use math to solve real-life problems now and find different ways to come at the same answer rather than repeating formulas.

“Mathematics is more accessible to students if there is more than one way to solve the problem and find the correct answer,” said Erchick. “If we are only teaching one way and the student doesn’t understand that one way, that student has been left behind.”

The average fourth-grade math score this year was 240 on a scale of 500, down from 242 in 2013. The average eighth-grade math score was 282, down from 285 two years ago. Education officials say the reason for the drop could be that the some of the concepts on the test are no longer part of the curriculum for that grade level under the Common Core standards.

“I believe in the spirit of the Common Core standards and what the mathematical practices mean for changing how we teach,” said Erchick. “I always have believed that if you are teaching well and the tests match the expectations, students should do well.”

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