In a previous post, Why Are Educators Stunned By Shanghai’s Test Scores?, I commented on the differences in the education systems of China and the United States. In a recent interview Tom Watkins, former schools superintendent for the state of Michigan, talked about China’s test results with specific focus on math scores (link here).
Watkins said there are several major ways in which Chinese math instruction differs from the United States.
— Students in early elementary grades receive math instruction from teachers who specialize in the subject.
“In lots of places, China has specialists in third-grade math, for instance — that’s what they’re trained to do, third-grade math,” he said.
— Chinese schools give teachers two hours of prep time for every hour in the classroom.
— Unlike the United States, math skills have the same importance as literacy, and all students are expected to take advanced math by the time they leave high school.