This letter gives me a good excuse to tell everyone the latest TIMSS news. Based on tests administered in 1995, the TIMSS said that American fourth-graders are doing quite well in math and science in comparison with students in the rest of the world, but that our eighth-graders are just middling and our 12th-graders almost drop off the charts.
One of the most interesting pieces of research coming out of TIMSS and TIMSS-R, the repeat study, is that eighth-grade math and science teachers in the United States are much more likely than their foreign counterparts to say they feel fully qualified although they are much less likely to have majored or minored in the subject they teach. U.S. teachers also have many fewer opportunities to observe and work with fellow teachers than do their foreign counterparts.
Lesson plan study allows teams of teachers to spend an entire year polishing an individual lesson. The example explored at length in "The Teaching Gap" was of a first-grade team that chose the topic of subtraction of a one-digit number from a two-digit number requiring regrouping or "borrowing." The team spent considerable time researching the topic and barriers to learning that topic. Members then worked on ways to overcome the barriers, carefully choosing a problem to help teach the concept.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.