Missing a 'Trillion': How Do We Know If We are Teaching the Right Things?
12 Pages Posted: 30 Dec 2012
Date Written: August 27, 2011
Since the passage of the No Child Left Behind bill of the U.S. Congress, there has been much debate about standardized tests, and whether they are an accurate measure of teacher effectiveness. Most of this debate has centered on whether a written test can accurately measure students’ skills and knowledge, and whether there are systemic issues such as cheating that reduce their value. One area that has conspicuously been left out of the debate is whether we are teaching the right standards. While the authors of the standards say that their standards are research-based, this research methodology has generally involved creating committees and getting their opinions. Unfortunately, as the research in this paper shows, this methodology is lacking. This paper compares topics found or not found in state standards with the frequency that topic is found in various forms of media, finding that every state’s content standard does not require teaching students what a “trillion” is, which is a critical concept in understanding the U.S. national debt. Instead all the states address the concept of scientific notation which is rarely used in the news media, and even in scholarly writing is less used than the common terms for large numbers. The author calls for more anthropological, sociological, and economic research into the content standards of the United States to be used in the revision of our standards, such that the content of education is most relevant to the needs of the future of America.
Keywords: Number Sense, Innumeracy, Educational Content Standards
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