Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Cliff Mass Weighs in on Seattle Schools Math Choices

From Professor Mass' weather blog:

"After lots of complaints and the evident failure of Everyday Math, the Seattle School District began a selection process for a replacement, managed by a Math Adoption Committee.  After some deliberation and limited input from the community, they have narrowed the field to three books:

  1. Math in Focus - The Singapore Approach pub. Houghton-Mifflin
  2. enVision Math   pub. Pearson Education
  3. Go Math!   pub. Houghton-Mifflin
Math in Focus is clearly the best of the lot.  enVision Math is far better than Everyday Math, but a step down.  Go Math is the weakest.  Here are a few comments on these books.

Math in Focus

Math in Focus is the Americanized version of the highly acclaimed  Singapore Math program (Singapore students have some of the best math performance in the world). 

Reasonably clear exposition of elementary math in a solid, well-designed package.  Highline Schools adopted Math in Focus a few years ago, with substantial improvements in standardized math tests.  A NY Times story on Singapore Math, including its MIF version, is very positive, with parents suggesting it to be far superior to Everyday Math.
EnVision Math

EnVision is lacking in depth in many topics (e.g., multi-digit addition and subtraction) and does not

provide adequate practice to ensure procedural fluency. The exposition ranges from barely o.k. to downright awful. 

Go Math

Busy, graphics-heavy layout. Distracted presentation, jumps from foundation to skill to application and back again without giving a student time to master anything, just running in place. Too many of the assessments were multiple choice. 

The Seattle Math Adoption Committee will be considering public input, and quite honestly they really need the input form parents and the community to ensure a mistake is not made again.  You can either do this in person at several school libraries or provide your comments online/mail..

In person viewing and commenting can be done at  five school libraries during school hours:
  •    MAGNOLIA: Catherine Blaine K-8, 2550 34th Ave W, 252-1920
  •    RAVENNA: Bryant Elementary, 3311 NE 60th St., 252-5200
  •    NORTH END: Northgate Elementary, 11725 1st Ave NE, 252-4180             
  •    WEST SEATTLE: West Seattle Elementary, 6760 34th Ave SW,  252-9450       
  •    RAINIER VALLEY: Wing Luke Elementary, 3701 S Kenyon St., 252-763
School libraries are only open during school hours, usually around 8-3, but are also open some evenings for special programs. All schools Closed for Spring Break: April 12-April 20.
 Or come to the Douglass-Truth Public Library, 2300 E Yesler Way, 684-4704 during open hours:
Mon-Thur 10AM to 8PM, Fri-Sat 10AM to 6PM, Sun 1PM to 5PM
In order to view the books on-line, follow the instructions on this page.  The form you must fill out to provide comments is available on the committee website, here, along with the address to send it to at Seattle Public Schools you can mail it to (or you can email your filled in form).

We have come a long way and with strong community support, Seattle Schools can move from one of the worst K-5 math textbooks series (EveryDay Math) to a good one (Math in Focus)."
 End of blog entry.

As Charlie pointed out, Math in Focus is the most expensive.  But really, when you are talking about good math instruction (after many years of a poor curriculum), I say, spend the money on the best.


n said...

A couple of us have purchased online Math in Focus and Go Math and Go Math is terrible. I don't know how it made any list much less the final list. It is all colors, big pages, little math, and totally unclear. And it doesn't sustain the teaching of concepts. Very weak. The Math in Focus I purchased (pretty cheaply) isn't the common core edition but it sure is a clear math program. No bells and whistles and bright colors through which to navigate. Just solid math. I love it.

I don't know what manipulatives are included. If we can finally get a really good math program, I don't see why it can't last a while. This jumping around from publisher to publisher and changing programs every five years (or whatever) is very expensive.

I wish someone who has experience with enVision (either a parent or a teacher) would chime in on program. Esp. since they put first graders into the third grade math and I'm wondering how that has worked out.

That Go Math is even on the final list blows my mind and worries me.

Maje said...

I haven't reviewed the other math programs, but I'm loving enVision (as a parent) so far after our school switched to it this year.

That said, all I have to compare to is EDM, so it's not a surprise that I'm happy with enVision.

Linh-Co said...

The Sidwell Friends school uses Math In Focus. This is the private school in D.C. that Obama's girls attended.

Charlie Mas said...

And now we know why Math in Focus costs so much. Because people will pay it.

Anonymous said...

Looking at OSPI's report for Highline schools, there is significant improvement for 4th and 5th grade math scores. The gap between state and district pass rates has noticeably lessened for 4th and 5th grade math over the past 2-3 years.

OSPI Washington State Report Card Hghline

Seattle parent

Charlie Mas said...

I can't wait to hear someone say that Math In Focus is the best of the three but that our children's math education isn't worth the premium price.

Linh-Co said...

Highline is using Math In Focus and was going to roll it up to 6th grade. They are replacing 6th grade CMP. I bet no one is complaining.

Anonymous said...

I went to the Catherine Blaine school today to check out the math books. Both Go Math and enVision looked busy to me, with too much “explain your answer” comments and test prep.

The Math in Focus books looked cleaner and much less distracting. I liked how they had models to help the students. Also, there were useful skills students might need, like fractions, measuring rulers and telling time. I liked the emphasis on math equations and simple practice.

My boys have graduated from college but I would urge parents to speak up to SPS. I do not trust the administrators to make this decision based on their past decisions. They are liable to sneak in a poor curriculum unless you can make them hear you. Good luck.

S parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Good for you, S. Thanks for the input.

Anonymous said...

Deeply depressed by all three options. Looks like very little deep thinking. Look at common core testing (e.g Smarter Balanced) and you will see these do not align with the CC "depth of knowledge."

it makes me quite disappointed that we are doing this adoption now instead of a year from now when many other large districts across the nation are doing it. The options will be vetted by then instead of having the CC stamp on them.

As an elementary math lead for our building and an award winning and NBCT teacher, it makes me very sad.

- Math loving teacher

Anonymous said...

This is elementary math. They need a solid grasp of arithmetic - adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing with both fractions and decimals - in order to access "depth of knowledge" (what does that even mean?) or higher level work.

I tutor middle school students that do not have a solid grounding in the basics, and they are struggling. They can't engage in higher level work because they are struggling to keep up. They begin to hate math. When students grab a calculator to divide 5 by 2, you know something needs to change.

I am looking forward to reviewing the materials. It gives me great satisfaction that we will be closing the book on EDM.

As an added note on Highline, I believe they have also added computer based skills practice. It's something to keep in mind when you look at improvements in math performance.

another mathlover

Linh-Co said...

Some schools in Highline are using ST Math in conjunction with MIF.

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Singapore Math said...

Thank you very much for elaborating the contents of those books! Math in Focus is a good choice for teaching Math!