U.S. scores low on math compared to other countries

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – An international study found that math students in South Korea tested the highest of 34 countries surveyed. Japan came in second, Switzerland third, but the U.S. finished far behind, 27th on this list.

When comparing individual U.S. states with these countries, New York finishes 30th of 34, on par with Hungary.

The report was prepared by academics at Harvard and Stanford, and Munich University in Germany.

The Buffalo School District’s new Chief of Curriculum Assessment and Instruction, Linda Cimusz, says the study indicates that old ways have to change.

“We tend to teach things in a rote fashion, follow a formula, follow a certain number of steps to solve a problem.”

High ranking New York State Education Department officials tell News 4 they don’t take issue with the study, but add that the math figures were based on 2012 test results. Since then, they say Common Core testing standards have improved the educational process and that math scores in the state have recently gone up four percent.

At the Charter High School for Applied Technologies in the Town of Tonawanda, math Regents scores are 16 percent higher than the state average. The graduation rate is 98 percent.

Teachers have data on every student’s progress. If they don’t test well or can’t think through concepts, they are compelled to attend catch-up sessions. The school day is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We give them (the) opportunity to see the real world applications of math skills,” said Chris Derrick, who helps prepare students for careers.

Math teacher Brian Tollar says he will help any student make the grade.

“We have that intervention period where we can make them stay,” he said.

Applied Technologies is the state’s largest charter school. Eighty-five percent of its 2,000 students K-12 are below the poverty level.

Chief Information Officer Melinda Cebulski says success comes from teachers working together, and carefully weighing the data for each child.

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