Almost 60 percent of Palo Alto parents supplement their children's math education through private tutors, extra workbooks and other means, mostly because they feel Palo Alto classes aren't challenging enough, according to results of a district survey released this week.
The district conducted an online survey of about 1,200 elementary school parents, and will compare its results with another survey taken next spring, after students have spent a year learning the district's new Everyday Mathematics curriculum.
During the debates over the controversial Everyday Math program, adopted as the district's new curriculum in April, many parents said Everyday Math is confusing and doesn't teach basic math skills. Parents frequently said they would have to supplement their children's math education.
Under the current curriculum, 62.8 percent of parents said their children don't need extra help in math, the survey says. But 57.2 percent said they provide supplemental math work anyway, mostly in the form of extra practice materials like workbooks or software, or regular math tutoring by a sibling or parent.
About 6.5 percent of parents said they hired a private math tutor, and 21.6 percent said their children attend a private math program like Kumon or Score.
A majority of parents who supplement their children's math education — 51 percent — said a "main reason" they do so is because their child needs to be more challenged in math, and 42.9 percent said a main reason was because their child enjoys math.
Former school board member Mandy Lowell, who has been critical of the district's adoption of Everyday Math, said boredom with math has been a "perennial problem" here. Palo Alto students are the sons and daughters of engineers and scientists who enjoy math, and have passed their love for the subject on to their children, she said, but the program focuses more on "supermarket math."
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