kitchen table math, the sequel: TERC causing trouble in Ohio

Thursday, February 15, 2007

TERC causing trouble in Ohio

School district adopts TERC, problems ensue.

Students start having problems doing simple calculations:

Debate over a controversial math program in Dublin has been multiplied by test results showing that middle-school students there are struggling to divide.

For example, only 29 percent correctly divided 651 by 14 on a test the district administered in December. (The answer is 46.5.)

...
The district’s 3,000 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders were tested on multiple-digit addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Several questions assessed students’ understanding of fractions, percentages and decimals.

On four of the 11 questions, at least half of the students got them wrong. Students did not receive a grade.

Remediation becomes necessary:

Each of Dublin’s four middle schools is implementing an emergency plan to tutor students this school year. Some will take up to 20 minutes of class time to review basic computation. Others will give algebra students extra homework in division.

Parents hire math tutors:

Some Dublin parents said they have spent hundreds on tutoring services.

Local Kumon centers see enrollment increases:

Abha Jindal, director of Kumon tutoring center on Riverside Drive, said more Dublin children have been coming for help in the past couple of years.

"They don’t know how to multiply or divide," she said.


Administrators start making excuses:

George Viebranz, executive director of the Ohio Mathematics and Science Coalition, said it takes time for the benefits of reform math to materialize.

Decades, apparently.

Blame somebody, like the hapless teachers:

"The challenge we face is the teachers, who are key to the success of the program, are products of the system we are trying to change," he said. "There’s a very strong element of professional development that would have to occur over a number of years."

Should have thought of that before implementing the new program.

Curriculum developer tacitly admits it was wrong:

Ken Mayer, a spokesman for the developer of Investigations, said the second edition of the program puts more emphasis on teaching standard algorithms, the traditional ways of solving math problems. That edition has just been released.

And, resorts to spouting cliches:


He said Investigations improves on the traditional "drill and kill" model, because that method leaves students ill equipped for real-world situations.

"A mechanical procedure can be obscure when they have to apply their knowledge to more and more difficult problems," he said. "(Knowing) when they should be adding, multiplying, that’s when they get in trouble."
A mechanical procedure can also be obscure when it has only been superficially taught. And, students being able to "apply their knowledge to more and more difficult problems" invariably requires the application of some procedure, preferably one that has been taught to mastery.

The article alleges that more recent cohorts score better on achievement tests in the lower grades. I'd like to see those tests.

24 comments:

Catherine Johnson said...

brilliant

Catherine Johnson said...

one of your best

Catherine Johnson said...

I'm thinking this one needs to go on the Irvington Parents Forum.

Parentalcation said...

I think the more recent scores they are talking about are here.

Scroll to the bottom of the document to see the results.

I am willing to bet that their 3rd and 4th grade teachers are going outside the curriculum to teach multiplication facts to mastery.

Of course knowing multiplication facts doesn't mean the kids will learn how to perform the standard multiplication and division algorythm's which are normally taught in 4th and 5th grade.

cross posted at D-Ed...

Catherine Johnson said...

I am willing to bet that their 3rd and 4th grade teachers are going outside the curriculum to teach multiplication facts to mastery.

absolutely

Catherine Johnson said...

Supposedly the 4-5 school here is now supplementing TRAILBLAZERS like mad.

Speaking of which, word is TRAILBLAZERS will be replaced in 3 years' time, I guess when the next curriculum cycle works through.

This has got to be some kind of record for an NSF-funded curriculum crashing and burning.

IUFSD adopted TRAILBLAZERS in, I think, 2 grades (K-1?) in school year 2004-2005.

In February 2007 we're hearing that it will be replaced.

I'm assuming this means that we won't be adopted a constructivist curriculum for middle school or high school.

I'm going to keep tabs on this because the MSS principal told Ed last week that the math teachers in the middle school are fine; it's the curriculum that's bad.

The math curriculum is bad, but the curriculum committee is going to have to have some real math professionals on it before anything else gets chosen.

Catherine Johnson said...

We're also hearing that the "middle school model" is gone.

Catherine Johnson said...

Don't know whether these things are true, but if I had to bet I'd bet 'yes.'

Catherine Johnson said...

I should add my parent-choice position: parents who like and appreciate TRAILBLAZERS should get to keep it.

One of my closest friends likes TRAILBLAZERS; I've hung out with her child doing homework from it; I can see why she likes it.

I have zero interest in imposing Saxon or Sadlier-Oxford or Harcourt on parents who don't want it.

Catherine Johnson said...

Ed said that at the Board meeting.

The standard parent triangulation rationale came up - parents want different things, so we have to give those other parents what they want.

Ed said, "Great. They can have TRAILBLAZERS. Give us Saxon."

Then someone said that would be expensive and another parent said it wouldn't; we've already paid for TRAILBLAZERS.

support parent choice

Instructivist said...

"George Viebranz, executive director of the Ohio Mathematics and Science Coalition, said it takes time for the benefits of reform math to materialize."

Educationists like this executive director something or other are completely irrational. Is proficiency somehow to materialize miraculously? I am going to call fuzzy math voodoo math.

Instructivist said...

"The challenge we face is the teachers, who are key to the success of the program, are products of the system we are trying to change," he said. "There’s a very strong element of professional development that would have to occur over a number of years."

Who needs teachers, PDed or otherwise, when the students are supposedly dicovering.

Instructivist said...

Math teachers I know who are stuck with voodoo math (CMP) tell me the CMP teacher manual tells them not to provide direct instruction.

I am going to try to get my hands on the manual, in order to be able to cite chapter and verse. Preferably scan the passage(s) and post it.

Catherine Johnson said...

I am going to try to get my hands on the manual, in order to be able to cite chapter and verse. Preferably scan the passage(s) and post it.

You MUST get hold of this!

Michael said...

FYI, this district is one of the most affluent in Ohio (Brady Quinn went here).


"George Viebranz...said it takes time for the benefits of reform math to materialize."


So what is my kid to do? Hang around in 2nd grade until that happens? Lucky for my children, they attend one of only two schools in Arizona that use Signapore Math.

Michael said...

Here are some excerpts from a 6th grade CMP teacher's manual...

* "The format of this curriculum is much different from traditional lessons found in textbooks where examples are given and students model the procedures." (Introduction)
* "Answers will vary according to how comfortable your students are..." (p. 10)
* " You should not expect your students to be able to respond in precise mathematical ways to the challenge in this problem." (p. 11)
* "This is a good time to revisit the meaning of fractions and to point toward finding equivalent fractions that are visible on the number lines." (p.37)
* "Since the students do not have any formal way to add or multiply fractions, this problem is designed to encourage them to construct their own ways of combining fractions." (p. 51)
* "Pay attention to students' strategies as you visit the groups. Some students will see that 75 out of 150 is the same as 150 out of 300, which they recognize as 1/2. Others will divide 75 by 150 on their calculators and get 0.5. For students who say that 75 out of 150 means 75%, talk with them about what percent means and refer them them to page 67 in the student edition" (p. 98).

http://www.pisd.org/cmp/excerpt01.html

Barry Garelick said...

"The format of this curriculum is much different from traditional lessons found in textbooks where examples are given and students model the procedures."

So says CMP. Here's what Kirschner, Sweller and Clark have to say: "The worked-example effect which has been replicated a number of times, provides some of the strongest evidence for the superiority of directly guided instruction over minimal guidance. ... [A]lgebra students leanred more studying algebra worked examples than solving the equivalent problems."

From "Why minimal guidance during instruction does not work: An analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential, and inquiry-based teaching" in Eduactional Psychologist, 41(2) 75-86.

Instructivist said...

"An analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential, and inquiry-based teaching."

Does this list cover all bases of voodoo math?

I get a kick out of this title.

Tex said...

Whoohoo! I just learned my school district has decided NOT to pilot TERC as they had planned for this spring. Don’t know any more details, but I will say that some choice emails I sent to some parents have been getting a bit of attention. I just emailed the Ohio article out.

Also, this gem was just a little over the top, but it tells it like it is.

Standards-based math refers to a handful of concepts identified as necessary for students to learn by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics in 1989. It advocates nontraditional teaching methods such as arriving at answers through group work, reflection and drawing pictures to produce deeper levels of understanding and a love for math.
Investigations math is a standards-based curriculum.


From this article about how Utah schools have decided to dump TERC. I learned about this from Linda Moran.

http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,660194789,00.html

Thanks everybody!

Instructivist said...

"Standards-based math refers to a handful of concepts identified as necessary for students to learn by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics in 1989."

This corruption of language burns me up. Voodoo math has nothing to do with standards. It's anti-standard. The voodoo practitioners just hijacked the term. A nettlesome term in their view. NCTM propaganda was successful if journalists just parrot the NCTM line.

I wouldn't mind if they called it strand-based or vision-based or nonmath-based math or somesuch.

Catherine Johnson said...

George Viebranz, executive director of the Ohio Mathematics and Science Coalition, said it takes time for the benefits of reform math to materialize

I found a great quote on differentiated instruction from Carol Tomlinson saying that there's no "magic bullet" in education and it takes 7 to 10 years to "fully institutionalize" differentiated instruction.

So this is a practice with no research base at all that schools are to spend 7 to 10 years "instituionalizing" and THEN find out whether it works.

Instructivist said...

"I found a great quote on differentiated instruction from Carol Tomlinson saying that there's no "magic bullet" in education and it takes 7 to 10 years to "fully institutionalize" differentiated instruction."

I don't know to this day what educationists mean by "differentiated instruction."

Does it have to do with with accelerating some students and giving them a more demanding curriculum (a sort of within-class tracking) or do they mean "learning styles" and MI mumbo-jumbo or what?

SusanS said...

I think they mean both to some degree, or whatever they can handle. But it all boils down to worksheets on all different levels and independent study.

Anonymous said...

We are having our own local math war. Our group of concerned parents in the Plainview - Old Bethpage (NY) school district are opposed to the Investigations Math curriculum being taught to our children. Our most recent NYS math scores were horrible!

To make matters even tougher for us, our Superindendent of Schools is Martin G. Brooks co-author of "The Courage to Be Constructivist" with his wife Jacqueline Grennon Brooks

We are making progress. We had 250 parents at the last Board of Ed meeting, and we have definitely turned up the pressure on our BOE.

We set up a website to educate our community http://www.pobmath.com/

I would appreciate your feedback on it and any help or advice you can give us.

Thank you,
Gary Bettan
Concerned P-OB parent