FIGURE 3.3 Income-to-needs and child cognitive ability: Deep poverty and math ability (PIAT-Math), NLSY-CS data set.

SOURCE: Brooks-Gunn et al. (1999).

The significance of these findings is suggested by the data in Figure 3.3 that plots Peabody Individual Achievement Test (PIAT) math scores against poverty level. Clearly the correlation is powerful; the deeper the level of poverty, the poorer the math scores. Importantly, as students move through school, the gap becomes more pronounced. Children ages 9-10 showed even larger score disparities than those ages 7-8. NAEP data indicate that in 1999 black 4- and 8-year-olds ranked in the 15th and 14th percentiles in math, respectively (Thernstrom and Thernstrom, in press). If the Number Worlds program can put poor children on a path to success in math, the contribution would be substantial.

Checkpoints: Assessment

The curricula described above have embedded assessments that allow teachers to track student learning. A key feature of the Number Worlds curriculum is the Number Knowledge Test, which allows teachers to closely link instructional activities for children to the assessment results. How well other curricula link assessment and instruction is an issue worth investigation.

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