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(NCES 92-070) Ordering Information

*NAEPfacts are brief reports that extract the results of data on a single
topic from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP); they are
intended for elementary and secondary school teachers and principals. NAEPfacts
describe what educators, researchers, and policymakers have to say about
effective practice; provide information from NAEP about what actually takes
place in schools; and conclude with questions for discussion. They are not meant
to promote or prove any educational theory; NAEP data simply tell us what is
happening in the classroom. Furthermore, relationships between background
factors and achievement are not causal.*

*This issue of NAEPfacts is concerned with trends in school and home
frameworks for learning. We hope it will promote conversations among teachers,
principals, parents, and other interested parties about improving learning.
Readers' comments and suggestions are welcome.*

Myriad factors lead to student learning. Instructional approaches, coursework, student attitudes, and home support for learning contribute heavily to student achievement. During the 1980s, leaders in the educational reform movement such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Science Teachers Association recommended changing home and school leaning environments and proposed many education policy initiatives. Were these recommendations implemented? Were they effective in improving student outcomes? Where do we go from here?

NAEP results reported in *Trends in Academic Progress: Achievement of
U.S. Students in Science, 1969-70 to 1990; Mathematics, 1973 to 1990; Reading,
1971 to 1990; and Writing, 1984 to 1990* revealed some slight progress toward
implementing recommendations for school reform. General improvements in
achievement across the 1980s were accompanied by increases in the number of high
school mathematics courses taken and by signs teachers were responding to
suggested reforms in classroom practice. For example, 9-year-olds reported
increased use of science equipment, and more 13- and 17-year-olds reported using
computers in mathematics classes. Although lecture by the teacher still appears
to dominate in high school mathematics classes, more students reported
opportunities for discussion.

Education reformers recommended that students be more active learners in
class. Classrooms should be *student,* rather than teacher, centered. NAEP
trend data, however, indicate old habits are difficult to change.

*Students can learn to become better writers by understanding writing as
a dynamic process of planning, drafting, and revising. Although they were given
space and time to plan their writing in the assessment, less than one-fifth of
8th- or llth-graders did-representing no change from 1984 to 1990. In 1990, 8th-
and 11th-graders reported revising only about as frequently as their
predecessors in 1984.*

*Students' reports about the kinds of school-related materials they read
hardly changed between 1984 and 1990. Essentially the same percentages of
students read plays, biographies, and science books, although more 13- and
17-year-olds recently reported reading poetry. Two-thirds or fewer students in
all three grades reported ever reading biographies or plays.*

Yet, there are signs that reformers' recommendations have affected school practice:

*Discussion opportunities in mathematics classes were reported more
frequently by 17-year-olds. In 1990, 63 percent reported "often"
discussing mathematics in class compared with 51 percent in 1978.*

*Nine-year-olds reported having more experience with hands-on science
equipment; more elementary school students reported working with thermometers,
microscopes, and calculators in 1990 than in 1977. For example, the percentage
who used a microscope increased from 53 to 63 percent.*

*At ages 9 and 13, success on questions for which students were permitted
to use a calculator increased significantly between 1978 and 1990; at age 17,
performance improved significantly between 1982 and 1990 after a decline between
1978 and 1982.*

*Also, students reported more use of computers in mathematics classrooms.*

*Between 1984 and 1990, more 8th- and 11th-graders reported that teachers
commented about ideas in their papers; still, in 1990 fewer than half said
teachers provided feedback on this aspect of their papers.*

Particularly in science and mathematics, much concern has been expressed about the low numbers of students who pursue challenging coursework. A recent College Board study showed geometry is the "gatekeeper" for college enrollment; 93 percent of all college-bound high school seniors had taken geometry. However, NAEP showed that in 1990, only 67 percent of 17-year-olds nationally and as few as 52 percent of Hispanics reported studying mathematics through geometry or beyond.

NAEP trend results for both science and mathematics show movement toward more advanced high school coursework.

*Biology and chemistry enrollments increased about 10 percent since 1982;
eighty-five percent of 17-year-olds in 1990 reported studying biology at least
one year, and 42 percent reported taking chemistry at least one year. However,
only about 10 percent of 17-year-olds in either assessment reported taking
physics one year. The patterns were the same across gender and racial-ethnic
groups.*

*Mathematics coursework showed similar patterns, with students moving
further through the course sequence, but relatively few reaching the end; fewer
17-year-olds reported ending mathematics coursework with general mathematics or
pre-algebra, and more reported pursuing studies through Algebra I and geometry
to enroll in Algebra II classes. Forty-four percent in 1990 reported taking
Algebra II, compared with 37 percent in 1978; however, fewer than 10 percent in
either assessment reported having taken pre-calculus or calculus.*

Students who understand the *value* of knowledge and skills across
subject areas, it is generally agreed, are more motivated to learn. NAEP data
support this view, because they show that students with more positive attitudes
about the value of what they are learning generally have higher achievement
levels. NAEP trend data, however, show students' attitudes changed little either
in liking particular subjects or in understanding their utility.

*Specifically, students' opinions about how useful what they learned in
science would be in the future changed little between 1977 and 1990. Also, in
both years, fewer 17-year-olds than 13-year-olds thought such learning would be
useful (two-thirds compared to about three-fourths, respectively). Between 1977
and 1990, increased percentages of 17-year-olds agreed science should be
required in school (75 compared with 62 percent). Also, 1990 students more often
than 1977 students felt science applications could affect world problems.*

*Asked whether they liked mathematics, were good at it, and to assess its
value, students at ages 13 and 17 replied similarly between 1978 and 1990. For
example, more than one-fourth in both student groups reported they were only
taking mathematics because it was required. In 1990, fewer than half of 13- and
17-year- olds reported they would like to take more mathematics (see table 1).*

*In 1984 and 1990, nearly 60 percent of 4th-graders reported they liked
to write, had confidence in their writing ability, and felt others liked what
they wrote; in grades 8 and II, fewer students-about 40 percent-responded
positively.*

Researchers say, together with encouraging students to read, parents can also call attention to homework and monitor the amount of television viewing. Unfortunately, trends for both activities-doing homework and watching television-are either stable or moving in the wrong direction.

*Students' homework habits changed little across the 1980s. In 1990, at
age 9, most students reported doing less than one hour of homework each night;
at ages 13 and 17, only about one-third of students spent as much as one hour or
more per night on homework. Conversely, students at all three ages reported
watching television more often. The percentage of students watching up to 2
hours per night dropped, and the percentage watching 3 to 5 hours rose (see
table 2).*

NAEP assessed students' attitudes about reading through questions about their reading habits. Much research, including NAEP findings, indicates positive relationships between reading activities and academic achievement. However, students appear to be infrequent readers, and the few changes that have occurred over time reflect decreases in their propensity to read

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Table 1.-Trends in attitudes toward mathematics at ages 13 and 17 1978 to 1990 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Strongly agree Undecided, strongly or agree disagree or disagree Percent of Average Percent of Average Students Proficiency Students Proficiency I would like to take more mathematics. Age 13 1990 43 (1.3) 273 (1.6) 57 (1.3) 269 (1.4) 1978 50 (1.5)* 263 (2.6)* 51 (1.5)* 268 (1.4) Age 17 1990 37 (1.3) 312 (1.9) 63 (1.3) 299 (1.4) 1978 39 (1.7) 304 (2.0) 61 (1.7) 295 (1.7) I am taking mathematics only because I have to. Age 13 1990 28 (1.0) 263 (1.8) 72 (1.0) 272 (1.4) 1978 29 (1.4) 256 (2.4) 71 (1.4) 270 (1.9) Age 17 1990 27 (1.1) 294 (1.9) 73 (1.1) 307 (1.5) 1978 27 (1.5) 287 (2.5) 73 (1.5) 302 (1.8) I am good at mathematics. Age 13 1990 71 (1.0) 274 (1.6) 29 (1.0) 263 (1.7) 1978 65 (1.3) 270 (2.0) 35 (1.3)* 258 (1.9) Age 17 1900 58 (1.7) 311 (1.6) 42 (1.7) 294 (1.8) 1978 54 (1.5) 307 (2.0) 46 (1.5) 289 (1.5) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ *Statistically significant difference from 1990, as determined by an application of the Bonferroni procedure, where alpha equals .05 per set of comparisons between previous mathematics assessments and 1990. NOTE: The standard errors of the estimated percentages and proficiencies appear in parentheses. It can be said with 95 percent certainty that for each population of interest, the value for the whole population is within plus or minus two standard errors of the estimate for the sample. Percentages of students may not total 100 percent due to rounding. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Trends in Academic Progress. Prepared by the Educational Testing Service. Washington, DC: 1991, p. 95. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Table 2.-Trends in television watching at ages 9, 13, and 17 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Number of hours watched per day 0-2 Hours 3-5 Hours 6 or more hours Percent of Average Percent of Average Percent of Average students proficiency students proficiency students proficiency Age 9 1990 37 (0.9) 231 (1.2) 39 (0.7) 234 (0.9) 23 (0.8) 221 (1.4) 1982 44 (1.1)* 218 (1.4)* 29 (0.6)* 227 (1.1)* 26 (1.0) 215 (1.2)* Age 13 1990 31 (0.9) 277 (1.2) 53 (0.7) 271 (0.9) 17 (0.7) 258 (1.4) 1982 45 (0.8)* 273 (1.2) 39 (0.4)* 269 (1.1) 16 (0.8) 256 (1.8) Age 17 1990 51 (1.2) 312 (1.1) 41 (1.1) 300 (1.2) 9 (0.5) 287 (1.8) 1982 69 (0.7)* 305 (1.0)* 26 (0.6)* 296 (1.1)* 5 (0.2)* 279 (2.1)* ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- *Statistically significant difference from 1990, as determined by an application of the Bonferroni procedure, where alpha equals .05 per set of comparisons between previous mathematics assessments and 1990. NOTE: The standard errors of the estimated percentages and proficiencies appear in parentheses. It can be said with 95 percent certainty that for each population of interest, the value for the whole population is within plus or minus two standard errors of the estimate for the sample. Percentages of students may not total 100 percent due to rounding. Data from 1978 are not available at ages 9 and 13. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Trends in Academic Progress. Prepared by the Educational Testing Service. Washington, DC: 1991, p. 100. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

*At ages 13 and 17, about 60 percent of students in 1990 as in 1984
reported reading only weekly or less often. About one-third of 13-year-olds and
one-fourth of 17-year-olds reported reading books, newspapers, and magazines
only once a month or less. At all three ages, approximately one-fifth of
students reported reading for fun only yearly or never. More 9-year-olds
reported never reading for fun in 1990 than in 1984.*

*Students were also asked if they ever engaged in a variety of reading
activities, including telling a friend about a good book, taking a book out of
the library, spending their own money on books, or reading more than one book by
a favorite author. In 1984 and 1990, at all three ages, fewer than half the
students reported having engaged in all four activities; at age 13, the
percentage having done none or only one of these activities increased from 12
percent in 1984 to 16 percent in 1990.*

*Students reported that fewer reading materials such as books, a daily
newspaper, magazines, and an encyclopedia were in their homes. In 1990 compared
with 1971, fewer students at all three ages reported all four types of materials
were available. At age 9, the percentage of students reporting only two or fewer
types of these materials in their homes increased from 28 to 36 percent.*

- How can we encourage more students to take advanced mathematics and science courses?
- What are some specific classroom projects that would increase the use of hands-on science experiences and allow students to use more science equipment?
- How can teachers stimulate discussion and written communication in mathematics classes?
- How can we make learning more fun?
- How can we demonstrate more effectively the utility of the subject material being presented?
- How can schools help parents find ways to encourage their children's reading activities and promote good study habits?

Bereiter, Carl, and Marlene Scardamalia. *The Psychology of Written
Composition.* Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1987.

*Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics.* Reston,
VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1989.

Dole, J. A. et al. "Moving From the Old to the New: Research in Reading Comprehension Instruction." Review of Educational Research 61 (1991): 239-264.

*Educating Scientists and Engineers: Grade School to Grad School.*
Washington, DC: Office of Technology Assessment, 1988.

Fielding, L. G. et al. "A New Focus on Free Reading: The Role of Trade
Books in Reading Instruction," in *Contexts of Literacy.* Ed. T.
Raphael and R. Reynolds. New York: Longman, 1990.

Freedman, Sarah Warshauer. *Response to Student Writing.* Urbana, IL:
National Council of Teachers of English, 1987.

Graves, Donald. *Writing: Teachers and Children at Work.* Portsmouth,
NE: Heinemann Educational Books, 1983.

Hillocks, George, Jr. *Research on Written Composition: New Directions
for Teaching.* Urbana, IL: ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading and Communication
Skills, 1986.

Morgan, M., and L. Gross. "Television and Educational Achievement and
Aspirations," in *Television and Behavior: Ten Years of Scientific
Progress and Implications for the 1980s.* Ed. D. Pearl. Rockville, MD: U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Mental Health,
1982.

Neuman, S. "The Home Environment and Fifth-Grade Students' Leisure Reading." Elementary School Journal 83 (1986): 333-43.

Odell, Lee, and Dixie Goswami. "Writing in a Nonacademic Setting,"
in *New Directions in Composition Research.* Ed. Richard Beach and Lillian
S. Bridwell. New York: The Guilford Press, 1984.

Paris, S. G. et al. "The Development of Strategic Readers," in
*Handbook of Reading Research: Volume II.* Ed. R. Barr et al. New York:
Longman, 1991.

*Professional Standards for Teaching Mathematics.* Reston, VA:
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1991.

*Reshaping School Mathematics: A Philosophy and Framework for Curriculum.*
Washington, DC: Mathematical Sciences Education Board and National Research
Council, National Academy Press, 1990.

*Science for All Americans: A Project 2061 Report and Literacy Goals in
Science, Mathematics, and Technology.* Washington, DC: American Association
for the Advancement of Science, 1989.

Steen, Lynn, ed. *Everybody Counts: A Report to the Nation on the Future
of Mathematics Education.* Washington, DC: National Research Council,
National Academy Press, 1989.

*NAEPfacts* briefly summarize findings from the National Assessment of
Educational Progress (NAEP). The series is a product of the National Center for
Education Statistics, Gary W. Phillips, Associate Commissioner for Education
Assessment. This issue of *NAEPfacts* was written by Ina Mullis of the
Educational Testing Service, in support of the National Center for Education
Statistics.

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