In response to complaints about Everyday Math, New Milford, Connecticut schools tried Saxon and Singapore math curricula , reported on the results and chose to combine Saxon and Everyday Math. Mindless Math Mutterings praises the district’s process, while Rory at Parentalcation analyzes the critique of Singapore Math.
The district found parents like the program and students do well with it. In fact, they learn so quickly that some special education students outperform non-special ed students in non-Singapore classes.
Students in this program K-8 would have completed Algebra I, most of Algebra II and Geometry. Currently between 20%-25% are tackling Algebra I in grade 8; under 5% in a good year are tackling Geometry by that grade level.
It will make the rest of the education establishment look stupid.
The report asks:
Can we train 6th grade teachers to teach Algebra I well? Can we recruit grade 7 teachers who are comfortable presenting lots of Geometry and Algebra II? If not, do we have a sense we could train them and, if so, at what costs? If we went down this road, it would become necessary to redesign the scope and sequence of high school math sequences. Does the system have the funds to do that and the staff to deliver the change? We would have almost all students taking Calculus by junior year, if not before then. That means the academic levels expected of all our staff would be raised in math.
We already told you that we were education majors, and math really really scares us.
It seems odd to worry about students learning too much math too quickly.
Teachers also were concerned that Singapore Math required more lesson preparation time. It’s hard to believe that teaching students who are learning quickly is harder than teaching students who are struggling. Still, if lesson prep takes too long, teachers could teach math three times a week instead of daily and solve the problem of too-fast progress at the same time.
In affluent Ridgewood, New Jersey, parents complain that the reform math curriculum isn’t teaching their children to solve problems.
Elizabeth Gnall uses workbooks from top-scoring Singapore’s math curriculum with her two school-aged children, who also attend a local Kumon tutoring center. The computation practice and worksheets from both programs allow for mastery and success in small bites, and that builds confidence, she said. Better yet, her children enjoy it.
“I know reformists like to call it drill and kill,” she said, “but I look at it as drill for skill.”
The battle is so fierce that the new superintendent quit the job before he even started.
Last week, a math teacher at an elite New England boarding school told me he’ll spend his summer teaching math to incoming students who had “reform math” in middle school. Without intensive help, they won’t be able to handle a college-prep math curriculum, he said.