Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Massachusetts Garners High Marks on International Science and Math Tests

Another reason I'm grateful I live here!

I've read on blogs the disparaging remarks calling Massachusetts "Assachusetts" and "Taxachusetts," but now we can quietly enjoy the last laugh on all who have denigrated this little gem of a state.

And who wouldn't be happy and proud to read this:

"Massachusetts eighth-graders outperformed most countries on a highly regarded international math and science exam, according to results being released Tuesday, offering fresh evidence that the state’s educational system rivals academically powerful ­nations around the globe.

 In the science part of the test, only Singapore outscored Massachusetts eighth-graders.

In math, Massachusetts trailed only South Korea, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, and Japan; 63 countries took the test.

 The impressive showing on the Trends in International Math and ­Science Study, more commonly known as TIMSS, bodes well for Massachusetts as it tries to build a larger and more sophisticated workforce in the sciences and emerging technologies. 


The goal is to enable the state to compete more aggressively on the global stage to attract businesses. Last year, about 600,000 fourth- and eighth-graders took the exam, which has been given every four years since 1995. Some sections of a country, such as Massachusetts, participated in the exam on their own. 

 In Massachusetts, 2,000 eighth-graders from 56 randomly selected schools across the state took the exam, the cost of which was covered by the ­National Center for Education Statistics. (Massachusetts fourth-graders did not participate because of budget constraints.) 

 Massachusetts not only outperformed the United States as a whole, but also all of the other states that took part as independent entities: Minnesota, North Carolina, Indiana, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, ­California, and Alabama. 

 “I am tremendously proud of our students for once again performing as global leaders in math and science,” said Governor Patrick. “Our record of leadership in student achievement isn’t by accident – it’s because we have chosen to invest deeply in education, knowing that our students will determine the future success of our economy and our Commonwealth.”

Boston Globe

Massachusetts is committed to excellence in science and math--those subjects that will keep our country competitive in the global economy.  Last year this news was welcomed as well:

State Outcomes in Math and Science Education Reveal Big Disparities
College Park, MD, July 1, 2011 —

"In a new ranking of how well the states' K-12 schools are preparing their students for science and engineering careers, Massachusetts leads the pack, while Mississippi trails behind as 'worst in the United States.' The rankings are reported in the summer issue of the Newsletter of the Forum on Education of the American Physical Society.

 "We're not trying to criticize the states at the bottom," says Susan White of the Statistical Research Center at the American Institute of Physics (AIP), who developed the new Science and Engineering Readiness Index (SERI) with physicist Paul Cottle of Florida State University (FSU). "But states need to know how they're doing in order to improve."

Tax dollars invested in public education have paid off handsomely.  I hope the rest of the country takes note of what can be accomplished when people value science and math over superstition and ignorance.

Well done Massachusetts!


Silverfiddle said...

I don't know of any states that do not value "science and math over superstition and ignorance," but regardless, you should be proud, and other states should be studying what Mass has done to achieve this accomplishment.

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

Hard to explain such results. When right-wing trolls invade this blog, it doesn't feel like Massachusetts anymore. Maybe more like Mississippi.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Some states either want to ban teaching Evolution or teach Evolution along with Creationism, which is tantamount to teaching science along with superstition.

Dave Miller said...

Silver, you know what Shaw is saying...

She is saying that a science based education is a stronger foundation of empirical knowledge than a faith based education that calls into question many proven facts and generally accepted positions.

Perhaps a good example is dinosaurs. I know many of my Christian brethren who cannot accept that there were at one time dinosaurs roaming the earth "because there is no record of them in the bible."

That to me is just poppycock, yet for many it remains an unreconcilable difficulty.

I'm just sayin...

BB-Idaho said...

There is a flicker of hope; even the most trenchant of biblical literalists grow old and come to
their senses .

Shaw Kenawe said...

Thanks for the link, BB Idaho. Here's what it said:

"Televangelist Pat Robertson challenged the idea that Earth is 6,000 years old this week, saying the man who many credit with conceiving the idea, former Archbishop of Ireland James Ussher, “wasn’t inspired by the Lord when he said that it all took 6,000 years.”
The statement was in response to a question Robertson fielded Tuesday from a viewer on his Christian Broadcasting Network show “The 700 Club.” In a submitted question, the viewer wrote that one of her biggest fears was that her children and husband would not go to heaven “because they question why the Bible could not explain the existence of dinosaurs.”

“You go back in time, you’ve got radiocarbon dating. You got all these things, and you’ve got the carcasses of dinosaurs frozen in time out in the Dakotas,” Robertson said. “They’re out there. So, there was a time when these giant reptiles were on the Earth, and it was before the time of the Bible. So, don’t try and cover it up and make like everything was 6,000 years. That’s not the Bible.”
Before answering the question, Robertson acknowledged the statement was controversial by saying, “I know that people will probably try to lynch me when I say this.”

“If you fight science, you are going to lose your children, and I believe in telling them the way it was,” Robertson concluded.

Forty-six percent of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form at one point within the past 10,000 years, according to a survey released by Gallup in June. That number has remained unchanged for the past 30 years, since 1982, when Gallup first asked the question on creationism versus evolution.
The Gallup poll has not specifically asked about views on the age of the Earth."

46%! You have to go across the Atlantic, past Europe and land in the Middle East to find percentages like that.

For the most technologically advanced country in the world, it is astounding that such a huge number of citizens believe the Earth is only 6,000 years old.

This explains why the US is so far behind so many other countries in science.

People can believe their religious stories as allegorical explanation of their beliefs. But to expect our young people to use those stories a fact is what continues to make us fall behind in science and math.


Les Carpenter said...

Science should be mandatory k-12 in public schools.. Creationism is best left to churches and private schools that are faith based.

Science and faith however can co-exist as is evidenced by scientists who accept the concept of a creator (God).

Just saying...

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

Dave: "Perhaps a good example is dinosaurs. I know many of my Christian brethren who cannot accept that there were at one time dinosaurs roaming the earth "because there is no record of them in the bible."

Proof positive that dinosaurs exist: There is a living, breathing dinosaur at the Swash Zone who writes erudite commentary and scares off right-wing trolls. A good chap to have around. Wish there were more of them.

Infidel753 said...

Science and faith however can co-exist as is evidenced by scientists who accept the concept of a creator (God).

That's quite rare, though. The higher one rises among the ranks of scientists, the less prevalent religion becomes. 93% of members of the National Academy of Sciences (the most distinguished American scientists) reject belief in God, and most likely many of the other 7% "believe" in God in a metaphorical sense, as Einstein did.

Religion really isn't compatible with modern science, not unless one or the other is massively distorted to make it compatible.

As for Massachusetts's educational attainments and the "Taxachusetts" label, I guess it just demonstrates the old saying that you get what you pay for.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Massachusetts among the LEAST religious states.

S.W. Anderson said...

Good for the Bay State! It does pay to invest in education, for all who are willing to learn, at every level and for all times of life. Every American has an interest in creating a better-educated society. We need more emphasis on this. But we also need to modernize our attitudes and horse-and-buggy method of funding public schools. There should be no poor schools in poor neighborhoods.

There should also be no parents ignorant of the importance of getting their children ready to be good students, and ignorant of how to go about doing that. There, too, more and better education is essential.

skudrunner said...

The interesting statistic would be private schools VS public. I don't know the answer but where there is parent involvement, there are better achievements.

Private educators are normally paid less but are in the profession to teach. Michigan teachers have a sick out in support of unions, I guess that shows where their priorities are.

Shaw Kenawe said...

These were public school results, not private.

Ducky's here said...

And we have a teacher's union. Imagine that.

Ducky's here said...

@skudrunner -- The interesting statistic would be private schools VS public.

Maybe, but the fact that Mass. public schools are absolutely world class is the issue here.

BB-Idaho said...

The GOP decries education funding as wasted $$. Yet they are willing to wreck the economy to fund cavalier military adventures.
IMO, they are wrong on both counts
and in education, you get what you
pay for.
(was education in Wisconsin when
excellence had yet to be Scott Walker-ized)

billy pilgrim said...

a cursory check shows that mass. has the 2nd highest percentage of adults with university education. i think gene pool in mass. might be a bigger factor than the quality of the teaching.

skudrunner said...

I have tried to find where it says it is public schools only but don't see it.

If Mass can achieve those results I commend those responsible.

Tao Speaks said...

Lets add another variable here, and that is what is spent by states to educate children.

Massachusetts is in the top ten in regards to spending. As this article points out that the relationship between spending and results (where most states are just attempting to graduate students) is not all that great.

Thus, for Massachusetts to spend what it does and achieve results beyond just graduating students from high school shows something much more important; an enlightened and involved citizenship.

KP said...

Shaw, this is good news for Mass for sure. Do you have any idea how schools in the inner city scored compared to those in smaller neighborhoods?

In California we have what many would call a failing school system (financially and educationally) yet we have second highest paid teachers to Illinois. Our administration is very top heavy and represents an inordinate amount of the budget, as does the defined pension plan system that has been constructed using faulty, inflated projections on investment returns. So the money situation is not great despite some of the highest state taxes in the nation (now highest).

Having said all that, California has pockets of very good public education. The high school my girls attended in San Diego is well run and produces some top students. Nearby Poway High School is perennially one of the best in the state. They are well integrated and used busing to bring students from the inner city where a new high school (Lincoln high) was being built.

I see a common thread at the schools that achieve and it isn't money or teacher's salaries. It is parents that act as an extension of the school, kids of who respect an education (again parents) and teachers that are able to teach willing students. Money is down the list of what leads to success. To me, the top three variables look to be 1) quality parenting, 2) teachers who are leaders 3) willingness of the student to participate in his or her own education. Those three things lend themselves to a sense of pride in accomplishment (students and teachers). Kids (and adults) respond to leadership. We don't want to let leaders down or disappoint them. Parents and teachers should be leaders.

It seems to me that smaller communities have a distinct advatage over very large cities where there is more crime, less intact families and, perhaps, teachers who are more isolated; less leadership.

How does it break down back there?