Learning from Singapore

K DeRosa of D-Ed Reckoning analyzes the New York Times’ editorial endorsing Singapore-style math and the revised “new-old math” standards promoted by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. DeRosa suspects the Times’ enthusiasm for centralized control, but likes much of the edit.

The Times says of the NCTM recommendations:

Under the new (old) plan, students will once again move through the basics — addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and so on — building the skills that are meant to prepare them for algebra by seventh grade. This new approach is being seen as an attempt to emulate countries like Singapore, which ranks at the top internationally in math.

All these references to Singapore are encouraging, given this country’s longstanding resistance to the idea of importing superior teaching strategies from abroad. But a few things need to happen before this approach can succeed.

A lot needs to happen, responds DeRosa, such as rewriting all the textbooks and teaching teachers how to use them.

The Times also calls for math and science teachers who know their subjects.

We also need to fix the current patchwork system of standards and measurement for academic achievement, and make sure that students everywhere have access to both high-quality teachers and high-quality math and science curriculums that aspire to clearly articulated goals.

For the Times, not bad, concludes DeRosa.

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