In Washington state, the home of Microsoft and Boeing, only half of 10th graders are proficient in math. The state is rethinking reform math, reports the New York Times. Parents are paying for outside tutoring.
“My mother is a high school math tutor, and her joke is that this (reform) math is what’s kept her in business,” said Marcy Berejka, who each week brings Ben, 8, and Dana, 6, to Kumon, a tutoring center based in Japan that has more than a dozen franchises in the Seattle area. “There’s a lot that’s good in the new curriculum, but if you don’t memorize the basic math facts, it gets harder as math gets more complicated.”
. . . In part, the math wars have grown out of a struggle between professional mathematicians, who say too many American students never master basic math skills, and math educators, who say children who construct their own problem-solving strategies retain their math skills better than those who just memorize the algorithm that produces the correct answer.
If reform math programs really taught students to understand math concepts, surely math professors would be delighted. The fact that they’re leading the bring-back-math movement tells me something.