We have long thought that learning is a life time undertaking. In fact, we cannot imagine a life in which the opportunity to learn does not exist. And although there are no doubt those who would think some learning might be deemed more important or meaningful, we have never found that to be the case. And we have also counted ourselves lucky that we have never been lacking when it comes to learning something new.
Thus, when we first learned the results of last spring’s ELA and math tests at Cooperstown Central School, we knew we had found yet another learning opportunity. Of all the test scores from grades three through eight, the math scores from eighth grade seemed to stick out like a sore thumb. Only 13 percent of the students scored in Level Three, where students are considered proficient in standards for the grade, while an additional 6.5 percent of the students scored in Level Four, where students are considered to excel in standards for the grade. Of all the grades, the eighth grade scores were the lowest, something that made us wonder why.
In fact, we were led to wonder how we, who began our college career at the University of Michigan as a mathematics major, might fair with the math test. And although a copy of the exact test is not available, as we suspect it is a deep, dark state secret, we were able to look at a number of sample questions online. And, much as we hate to admit this, we felt we were less than successful with the eighth grade math. So we went back to the third grade to see how we might do at that level. Again we ran into problems as we discovered, much to our horror, that we no longer know the terminology that is evidently being used in the current math curriculum.