kitchen table math, the sequel: NCTQ report recommends CO adopt Singapore Math

Thursday, October 8, 2009

NCTQ report recommends CO adopt Singapore Math

The National Center on Teacher Quality released a report entitled: Race to the top: Colorado may be used to high altitudes but can it compete in Race to the Top?

Commissioned by the Piton Foundation, the Donnell-Kay Foundation, the Colorado Children's Campaign and the Public Education & Business Coalition, the report suggests 7 strategies the state might take while applying for the RTT funds.
  • Strategy 1: Performance management (Teacher Evaluation, Tenure & Dismissal) - Given the tremendous impact teachers have on learning, no strategy a state will take on is likely to have a greater impact on student achievement than one that seeks to maximize teacher and principal performance.
  • Strategy 2: Equitable Distribution of Teachers and Principals - Schools serving children living in poverty are more apt to employ teachers with lower qualifications than schools serving more affluent children.
  • Strategy 3: Induction - CO should develop a statewide system of induction support for new teachers, particularly in its high needs and remote rural schools.
  • Strategy 4: Compensation Reform - CO needs to move away from lockstep salary schedules towards a system that differentiates salary on a number of factors, including teacher effectiveness, the relative difficulty of a school setting and the demand for teachers with particular skills or knowledge.
  • Strategy 5: Teaching in STEM fields: CO should develop a coherent state strategy to address the difficulty school districts face in attracting and retaining sufficient numbers of qualified STEM teachers.
  • Strategy6: Statewide Adoption of an Effective Curriculum: Students achieve when 4 elements are in place: Standards, Curriculum, Teachers & Assessment.
  • Strategy 7: Educator Preparation (Including Alternate Certification) - In spite of countless studies looking at the value of teacher education, we have only been able to learn (apparently) that no single method of teacher preparation yields more effective teachers than another.
I'll be honest, I haven't read through the entire report as yet, however I managed to get through Strategy 6, in which the authors recommend statewide adoption of Singapore Math at the elementary level. The report notes that:
...curriculum has been troublingly absent in conversations about education reform as well as ignored in the indifferent approach some educators take to curricula adoptions.

... the current emphasis on human capital and effective teachers has been at the expense of an equally urgent emphasis on the importance of good curricula.
And when discussing common standards, the report flat-out states:
We would go so far as to say that if the standards were in conflict with the Singapore curriculum, a state ought to consider opting out of the new standards.
Well, you don't hear that everyday!
Read and enjoy
(Cross-posted at Singapore Math Source)


concernedCTparent said...

NCTQ is fantastic. I've read a number of their reports and heard a representative speak before our state BOE. I love that they've taken a position on Singapore Math-- that's what they do. They call it like it is no matter whose feathers they ruffle because they have their priorities in the right place. It's about the children and what works for them (not what's easiest/convenient/comfortable for the the adults).

What's not to like?

SteveH said...

When the opposition pushes back, you will realize that their position is not about understanding and problem solving, but lower expectations.

Anonymous said...

Nowadays, though, you have to be careful about which "Singapore math" they are talking about. Singapore itself (the Ministry of Education in Singapore) has changed its approach somewhat since the advent if Primary Mathematics here in the US and is beginning to adopt a more, uh, constructivist approach and earlier calculator use and all that, taking its cue from the US, of all places. Plus there are "Americanized" ways of teaching aspects of the Primary Mathematics now. Plus a whole 'nother series being hailed as "Singapore math" which is designed to make US teachers more "comfortable" with Singapore math. Also, I recently saw a video on you-tube with some step-by-step method of solving word problems, and calling it "Singapore math" i.e. that this 7-step method (some videos show 8-steps" IS "Singapore math". It is not, though the idea of bar models is.

PhysicistDave said...

I agree with aAnonymous that it is probably possible to wreck Singapore Math. We're just finishing Primary Mathematics 6th grade in our homeschooling, and it has worked for us, both in terms of standardized test scores and my own subjective evaluation of what the kids know.

However, I also wrote a computer flashcard program to drill on number facts to make sure those are covered, and I think I have a decent sense of when to give the kids help on a problem and when to say "Work more on it by yourself."

We're transitioning into "Life of Fred" (already done with the first two volumes and starting algebra).

In all of this, though, I've also explained concepts I thought would be hard up at the whiteboard, as well as covering supplementary material of all different sorts from math -- some algebra, vectors, even a brief intro to calculus, etc.

I suspect that almost any elementary math sequence can be made to work by a good teacher who recognizes the need for solid mastery of the basic math facts, facility with the standard algorithms, and a "profound understanding of fundamental mathematics," to steal Liping Ma's phrase.

And, I'd bet that many teachers could wreck even Primary Mathematics.

Dave Miller in Sacramento

SteveH said...

"...many teachers could wreck even Primary Mathematics."

If you don't believe in ensuring mastery of the basics, you will ruin anything.

CassyT said...

If you've seen Math in Focus, you might believe that it was possible to wreak havoc Singapore Math.