Affluent Montgomery County, Maryland is accelerating more students in math, but a top math teacher says advanced students don’t understand the basics. From the Washington Post:
The students swapped stories of little sisters, brothers and cousins who were taking above-grade-level math and getting good grades, yet did not seem to have a firm grasp of the material.
High school teachers have to fill in the holes in their advanced students’ math understanding says Eric Walstein. Students know how to punch numbers into a calculator but don’t understand what they’re doing, he says.
This thesis has become Walstein’s obsession: In its drive to be the best, please affluent parents and close the achievement gap on standardized tests, the county is accelerating too many students in math, at the expense of the curriculum — and the students. The average accelerated math student “thinks he’s fine. His parents think he’s fine. The school system says he’s fine. But he’s not fine!” Walstein declares on one occasion. On another, Walstein is even less diplomatic. ” ‘We have the best courses and there’s no achievement gap and everything is wonderful,’ ” he says, parroting the message he believes county administrators are trying to project.
“The problem is, they’re lying!”
On Kitchen Table Math, Barry Garelick points out that Montgomery County defunded a successful experiment with Singapore Math and instituted Everyday Math.