Singapore Math works great in Singapore. But a Washington, D.C. school is struggling to .transplant a “math miracle,” reports the Washington Post.
Most D.C. elementary schools use Everyday Math, which left students with a poor grasp of number operations, says Nuhad Jamal, Bruce-Monroe’s instructional coach. The “emphasis on games and conceptual understanding” was “a good fit for kids with strong fundamental skills, Jamal believed, but not for those with weak foundations.” So the school switched to Singapore Math, which teaches fewer concepts to mastery.
The District’s student population is highly mobile, but the Singapore curriculum builds carefully from year to year, making it more difficult for new arrivals in the upper elementary grades or at mid-year.
The school, where nearly 60 percent of the 400 students are Hispanic, uses a dual-language program. Classrooms have a mix of English- and Spanish-dominant students who split time between the two languages. But without Spanish versions of the Singapore textbooks, teachers had difficulty getting ideas across. . . .
Even in English, Singapore math does not come easily to many American teachers. Experts say it takes one to two years to really learn the system. The no-frills textbooks lack teacher editions and other aids that are part of U.S. math packages such as “Everyday Mathematics.” Singapore’s elementary instructors receive significantly more math than their U.S. counterparts, who are often generalists.
So far, Bruce-Monroe’s math scores are down.
Some 2,000 U.S. schools have tried Singapore Math, but no large district has adopted the curriculum, the Post reports. The fact that it requires elementary teachers to understand math well has to be a serious obstacle.
Update: A math teacher talks about learning how to teach Singapore Math on the Daily Riff.