Everyday Math raises test scores, says Teacher Magazine, but many parents and teachers don’t like it. In New York City, all but the most successful schools are required to use the program.
Instead of teaching standard ways to perform addition, subtraction, multiplication, and long division and then drilling students with worksheets, teachers present several options for solving problems and encourage kids to use those that make sense to them. Rather than spend weeks or a single class on one subject, lessons bounce around, covering several areas in an hour. Computation is practiced by playing games, and students must continually explain why they’re solving problems in the ways they’ve chosen.
. . . Yet for many parents, the program, which refutes the back-to-basics approach that became popular in the 1970s, has been a hard sell. Despite his daughter’s aptitude for math, Dooley says that she’s confused. “They’re teaching all these different methods,” he explains, the anger rising in his voice. “Now when she does division or multiplication, she makes mistakes. She forgets to carry numbers over. She goes from left to right instead of from right to left. She’s forgetting her basic stuff.”
At the same time, computations are not difficult enough, he argues. “It’s back to 1st and 2nd grade math. I mean, ‘3 times 1’? ‘Two times 0’? What is that? She’s in the 4th grade.”
Everyday Math is harder for teachers — and most aren’t getting much training in making it work.