Massachusetts schools lauded in national press for success in math and science

The entire ScienceTimes section of The New York Times on September 3 was devoted to the state of math and science education in the U.S. The coverage focuses on positive accomplishments in Massachusetts.

The Times concludes that the state of math and science education is “less bleak and more complicated than one might think.” The lead story, “Expecting the Best Yields Results in Massachusetts,” describes the remarkable success of Massachusetts students and schools in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study assessment.

“If Massachusetts were a country,” the article notes, “its eighth graders would rank second in the world in science, behind only Singapore…” Our eighth graders would also rank a respectable sixth in the world in mathematics, ahead of all the participating Western European countries but behind Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan.

The article features education practices in Braintree, highlighting the creative, hands-on approach employed in the district. MTA member Dr. William Kendall is quoted discussing the rise in expectations that followed passage of the 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act.

The article states, “Dr. Kendall says teachers now laugh when he tells them that it was once possible to graduate from Braintree High School without ever taking algebra. ‘You can’t get out of eighth grade without knowing Algebra 1 now,’ he said. ‘We’re teaching everybody, and everybody is having success.’”

MTA member Kristen Walsh is also featured for her success in teaching math to students who have “a potpourri of learning disabilities.” One of her students, Abby, is quoted describing math as “pretty nice.” She told the Times reporter, “Ms. Walsh usually teaches us a lot of methods to use in math to make it seem easier.”

While the article focuses on math and science accomplishments in Massachusetts, it’s important to note that our students are also first in the country in English language arts on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.