ACT Math Score Drop Unsurprising Says Past NCTM President

ACT released its Condition of College and Career Readiness 2018 report where they report math scores are at a 20-year low nationally. 

They also noted that college readiness in math is trending downward among ACT-tested US high school graduates, falling to its lowest mark in 14 years. 

“The negative trend in math readiness is a red flag for our country, given the growing importance of math and science skills in the increasingly tech-driven US and global job market,” said ACT CEO Marten Roorda. “It is vital that we turn this trend around for the next generation and make sure students are learning the math skills they need for success in college and career.”

Education Week reported on the ACT report and they include a quote that is rather surprising. Catherine Gewertz wrote, “Matt Larson, the immediate past president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, said the math scores ‘are extremely disappointing, but not entirely unexpected.’”

Not surprising? Of course, I’m not surprised because we’ve seen this trend with ACT and we anticipated problems, but I have to admit I’m surprised to read a person whose organization shilled for Common Core.

They continue:

In a report released earlier this year, the NCTM called for major shifts in the way math is organized and taught in high school, including focusing more deeply on fewer essential concepts. Larson said that states have made solid progress adopting good math standards, but the ACT results suggest that schools need to focus on improving curriculum and instructional practice to bring those expectations fully to life.

“As a country, we’ve reached the limits of what we can get out of standards alone,” he said. “We need to pay more attention to what is taking place in the classroom.”

Oh, we’ve taken Common Core as far as we could? 

That was a short, disappointing ride. Nah, it’s not the standards, it’s everything else that is the problem… I couldn’t possibly be the standards! 

3 thoughts on “ACT Math Score Drop Unsurprising Says Past NCTM President

  1. Common Core sucks!!! Always has and always will. It’s unfortunate that parents don’t understand and really revolt. They will continue to blame the “bad teachers” meanwhile, it’s really the bad CC curriculum and lack of teacher autonomy that is to blame.


  2. “But the ACT results suggest that schools need to focus on improving curriculum and instructional practice to bring those expectations fully to life.”

    And NCTM has been pushing its version of math education for 30 years–and still no results to crow about. So, as a friend of mine says: “.and while we keep getting told that putting deep understanding first is the ticket, I just don’t see it happening particularly well anywhere. We can keep searching for it or blaming Ts for not getting it, but patience is wearing thin out here.”

    And when push comes to shove, NCTM and others say “It’s because teachers aren’t doing it right.” Really? The PD that’s been around for the past 30 years is all about student-centered, inquiry-based, understanding-based learning. Deep understanding. Anything that smacks of procedures is relegated to the “rote learning/traditional math” robo-category, and traditional math is sneered at as being the cause of “the failure of thousands of students.” What students? The ones who went on to become engineers or scientists? Or the ones who NCTM and others say are going around saying “I’m not good at math”–that’s their evidence? And of those adults saying they don’t like math, or never was good at it–they seem to know how to do a lot more calculations than the present set of entering high school freshmen.

    But OK, NCTM, keeping singing your song about “deep understanding”. And those of us who know what works will teach using those techniques, while the publishers of the crap math texts take credit for what they hold in disdain.


    • Yep. I was a member of the local chapter of NCTM until their newsletter accused those of us who dared to speak out against CC of being lazy and not wanting to work hard for change. Membership dropped.


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