Opting Out of Middle School Math

I'm starting to hear about people who want to take their children out of their middle school math class and replace it with something else. There are a variety of reasons for their decision, and, I suspect, they are having a variety of success with the process. Perhaps we can share our situations here and share our understanding of the process and its requirements.

Why opt out of middle school math? I've heard a variety of reasons including:

1. The quality of instruction is dreadful. A number of people have reported to me that the teacher just isn't very good and isn't communicating the curriculum. When last I heard, they were going to the principal as a group with their problem in search of a solution. In this particular situation there is also some trouble with the teacher's rude manner.

2. The style of instruction doesn't work for the student. No pedagogy works for all students, so there are, of course, students for whom the inquiry-based style of teaching isn't working. The families of these students want their child to have a chance to learn math in another way.

3. The placement is incorrect. I have heard that 6th grade APP students at Hamilton who placed in the Algebra class on the placement test are being denied access to the class because the school won't have anything to offer them in 8th grade. Concern about access to the third high school class was expressed at the time of the APP split and the District assured families that students would have access to the third year high school class. The District is now breaking that promise. Who is surprised?

You can choose to remove your child from their middle school math class. You can either home school them in math or arrange a math tutor. There are people who have done it. There is a process for it. It begins with contacting the counselor and the principal.

If you have done it, please share your experience. If you are considering it, please share your reasons.


SPS parent said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
wseadawg said…
If the Board was looking for a poison pill to drive people away, weaken the schools, make parents so dissatisfied they would demand change, and ultimately make the district ripe for "reforms" like privatization or mayoral control, they found it in embracing discovery, inquiry based math.

It is a JOKE, JOKE, JOKE! Are you reading this SPS? It guarantees high rates of failure, wastes time, and ultimately DOES NOT WORK. Look at the scores: What more does this district and Board need to see?
Anonymous said…
Well, we chose instead to remove our child from the whole school, but math was a driving factor. The teacher was fine but she taught the curriculum straight up, and our son lost a year of math learning. In addition to pedagogy issues the subject matter was a repeat of what he learned in 5th grade.

I'd like to hear how people manage this -- what does the child do during "math time" especially in schools with block scheduling?

We are headed back to public school and I am already wondering about the math. In private school my son will complete Algebra I by the end of 8th grade.
Charlie Mas said…
None of the schools will allow children on campus but outside of classes. That just can't happen. You can arrange either a late arrival or an early dismissal, skipping either the first or last class of the day.

This will, of course, create challenges with yellow bus transportation.

I had hoped that students could spend the hour as a T.A., but the counselor I spoke with at Washington didn't regard that as an option. Other schools may have different ideas.
I pulled one of my son's out of his middle school LA class (it was a block class with SS). We tried talking with the teacher about the homework, materials, etc. to no avail. He was not doing enough reading and writing and there was a heavy emphasis on arts.

What we did was that when he had LA, he would simply go to the library. I taught him after school. While he had been totally frustrated in this teacher's class, he wasn't all that excited to have his day extended and that it was with his mom? (Plus, my hat's off to teachers - lesson plans are tough.) He does grudging admit that the work we did on Greek/Roman mythology and word origins did help him on the SAT.

Now, as it turns out the school let us do this but never recorded it with the district. We found this out after the fact. Luckily, it didn't matter a whole lot because it was middle school but I was not happy.

The Home School Resource center is a good place to ask questions. One big thing they told me is NOT to withdraw your child from SPS because that sets into motion a lot of difficulties. You need to work this out with your principal (but make sure the paperwork gets done and grades recorded).

I have heard from parents from Hamilton and Eckstein over worry about math placement. Eckstein did used to have a math teacher who was happy to teach a couple of kids upper level math in his own highest level math class. I don't know if he gets to do that anymore. What it will take to change math issues i this district, I don't know.
Are you referring to Everyday Math or that new one the district adopted (the name of which is escaping me)? My son's in 5th and has EDM - does EDM fall into the same category of discovery, inquiry-based math?

Because I hate it, and I'm thinking of pulling my son out of math at his school. The only reason I haven't done it yet is not knowing what to replace it with, at home. (Saxon, Singapore, other?) And being unsure I can teach it to him when he spends half the week at his dad's, and hates when I try to teach him anything (not a great dynamic for home instruction!).

Oh, and yes, there's the scheduling issue. The whole school does math in the morning, but too late in the morning for me to bring him afterwards and get myself to work on time. I'm thinking of having him go to the library....

Another reason I'm thinking of pulling him out because, of the 3 years he's had EDM, no teacher has been able to teach it well to him, and in the past 2 years he's gone from describing himself as a "math genius" to below grade level. So, for whatever reason (style versus quality) it's not working for him. This teacher now has a different philosophy about her job and teaches in a traditional style, and my son's at an alternative education school because that traditional style does not work for him.
Of course, EDM is not "alternative" so even if this teacher were, the curriculum still isn't.
So, yeah, that's the 3rd reason: there's no way to teach it in an alternative education rubric.
SPS mom said…
We have been "afterschooling" ever since Everyday Math was introduced in SPS (what would I do without Math'n'Stuff?). I was so glad when my child could move onto middle school math and be done with EDM.

Well we found CMP2 is just as bad, if not worse. With EDM, you just need to show your child how to calculate "the way your parents did math" and practice basic math facts. With CMP2, it becomes more of a challenge to supplement at home.

It fails to adequately cover a fair amount of topics and my child finds the homework tedious. What's frustrating is that it introduces concepts through the homework. You have to guess the objective of the particular problem in order to guide your child through the problem - then the key concept that has been introduced seems to get no further mention in the book.

The "Key to Decimals" and "Key to Fractions" by Steven Rasmussen (Key Curriculum Press) are great supplements that kids can work through on their own. (They can be found at Math'n-Stuff...)

A Mathematically Correct review of CMP by Lappan, Fey, Fitzgerald, Friel and Phillips sums it up quite well:

"Students are busy, but they are not productively busy. Most of their time is directed away from true understanding and useful skills."
ArchStanton said…
Heck, we're beginning to wonder what alternatives to EDM we might implement in 2nd grade. We really don't want to homeschool, but EDM seems to discouraging and dampening our daughter's enthusiasm for math.
LG said…
I have gotten an OK to take my daughter out of 8th grade geometry at Washington. I'm not sure yet if we're going to do it or not.

It would mean picking her up at school before the last period every day, which is a hassle. Also my daughter is very concerned about missing 6th period because that is homeroom, where important information is passed out or announced. Her HS placement would be based on a test next fall, which is fine by me, but also makes her nervous.

Many teachers seem to think the inquiry-based method means they don't have to teach anything. My daughter's 7th grade math teacher was the only one in years who actually taught any math; she was fabulous.

I'm used to occasional additional instruction at home, and as a former HS math teacher, I am fortunate to be able to do so. But as we've said on this blog many times, what about families without a resident math teacher?

In addition, I have very serious complaints about the demeanor of the geometry teacher, which don't need to be expanded on here. But I do have to say that they are the driving force for considering taking her out, not the lack of instruction.

Geometry is a fun subject, and can be made so for everyone. I'm so sad to see my daughter hate it.
SPS mom said…

The 3rd Grade EDM is probably the worst, since it introduces the EDM methods of computation (partial products, lattice multiplication...see the "educator" link on everydaymath.uchicago.edu and click on the "compuation" link)while disparaging standard algorithms. I have had many conversations with my child about EDM - "the teacher said this was an 'easier' way, but it's not, it's just confusing."

This is a foundation year. Kids need to have a solid grasp of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to do any higher level math. And it requires repeated practice. Yet this is the year that made my child start to hate math. I am still trying to do damage control.

Singapore is a good solid supplement - which is why it was supposed to be used in SPS (we won't go on about that here...)
Anonymous said…
If you have the funds for it, Kumon is an excellent supplement -- roughly $100/month. A good choice for a parent who feels daunted by taking on the role of math teacher. It is a very traditional method of instruction. I've wondered whether it would work to use it instead of high school math. Have not yet talked to the franchise owner about this idea.
dan dempsey said…
It could be time to pull your kid out of math in WA state not just Seattle middle school math.

In case anyone missed these stats:

Here are the percentages of 10th graders unable to score at level 2 or higher on the Math WASL.

(This is the sum of level 1 + no score.)

From Statewide WASL scores

Grade 10
2005 :: 33.5%
2006 :: 25.0%
2007 :: 29.9%
2008 :: 35.0%
2009 :: 41.2%

Seattle grade 10
Grade 10
2005 :: 42.2% (the last year all second year high school students were WASL tested in the SPS)
2006 :: 23.8% (the year sophomore standing began being required for testing in the SPS)
2007 :: 34.9%
2008 :: 36.6%
2009 :: 40.0%

Seattle Black students
Grade 10
2005 :: 58.6%
2006 :: 50.4%
2007 :: 63.1%
2008 :: 70.4%
2009 :: 68.5%

Cleveland HS Black students:
Grade 10
2005 :: 67.0%
2006 :: 59.5%
2007 :: 74.6%*
2008 :: 82.4%**
2009 :: 74.7%**

The University of Washington has had a large amount of influence on SPS math as well as WA State.

Cleveland high school in the PD^3 project, which was a collaboration of UW math, UW College of Ed, and the SPS, had a three year special school-wide math program in place.
Think about return on investment (R.O.I.) for the NSF dollars pumped into Cleveland for the three school years marked with asterisks. Dr. Jim King and Art Mabbott were major players in this. Do we need more math coaches???? CERTAINLY NOT.

The school directors apparently fail to grasp the magnitude of the debacle in progress.
It appears that Randy Dorn also fails to grasp the debacle as well
for he has NOT replaced anyone from the OSPI Math staff that produced this massive and escalating failure.

Despite the efforts of the legislature and the SBE math advisory panel the new math standards will not do much as they are being corrupted by OSPI.

Recently, OSPI staff released Test Development Guidelines that are intended to guide the writing of new WA standardized tests. These are on the OSPI website in the What's New box at this link

In these guidelines, bold text is used to indicate what parts of each state math standard should be tested.
Even a cursory examination of these guidelines revealed that state standards are being compromised to further a reform math agenda. Fluency, competency, and standard algorithms are not deemed important enough for evaluation.

To illustrate this problem, consider the following key grade 3 standard, with the bold text representing content to be assessed:

"3.1.C Fluently and accurately add and subtract whole numbers using the standard regrouping algorithms." (page12)

As you can see, neither fluency nor standard algorithms will be tested. The same undermining was applied to this non-bolded 4th grade standard, eliminating basic math fact fluency from assessment entirely:

“4.1.A Quickly recall multiplication facts through 10 X 10 and the related
division facts. “ (page26)

(Since 4.1A has nothing in bold .. it will not be tested.)

Selective testing is tantamount to having no standards at all, because there is no verification/accountability. The entire purpose behind standards-based instruction is defeated. The only way to assure that math at the classroom level meets the new standards is to include all the new standards in standardized assessment.
The editing of the standards is a back-door approach to altering and weakening the standards, in a deceitful attempt to maintain discovery math and the status quo. Omitting standards, or portions of them is clearly subverting the expressed written intent of recent legislative actions in RCW 28A.305.215.

dan dempsey said…

So there you have it the folks who authored the disaster do not intend to have any testing in place that will reveal how bad this situation is ..... for then the public might realize how poor a job they did and demand their removal.

It appears that keeping the disaster in place assures the experts of continued employment for we must need more coaches and experts to solve the problem....NOT.

On 6-29-2009 I wrote the following to the board:

#2… OSPI’s Greta Bornemann, Boo Drury, Karrin Lewis and George Bright authored a paper in which non-standard ways of recording an algorithm were presented as acceptable forms of the standard algorithm. Dr. Ruth Parker, a Reform Math leader, a consultant, and public presenter for the district’s reform math agenda in the past, recently gave a presentation at NCTM national. Her presentation centered on her belief that the Standard Algorithm always harms conceptual understanding.

It is quite clear that people like Bornemann and Parker dictate what will happen despite the evidence that their beliefs are quackery.

You can find the paper HERE
Look toward the bottom under "Algorithms".
dan dempsey said…
Well so much for the NEW Math Standards emphasizing Computational Fluency.

OSPI has decided NOT to test that.

So much for the intent of RCW. 28A.305.215

Notes: Intent -- 2008 c 172: "The legislature intends that the revised mathematics standards by the office of the superintendent of public instruction will set higher expectations for Washington's students by fortifying content and increasing rigor; provide greater clarity, specificity, and measurability about what is expected of students in each grade; supply more explicit guidance to educators about what to teach and when; enhance the relevance of mathematics to students' lives; and ultimately result in more Washington students having the opportunity to be successful in mathematics. Additionally, the revised mathematics standards should restructure the standards to make clear the importance of all aspects of mathematics: Mathematics content including the standard algorithms, conceptual understanding of the content, and the application of mathematical processes within the content."

Now if only OSPI had the same idea ... but NO that is not the current plan because Ms. Bornemann runs the show.
anne said…
Our family has quite a bit of experience with this issue. We have an eighth grader at WMS who is currently taking geometry. He is in spectrum, but tested into the math class that most of the APP kids take.

In fifth grade, after being very disappointed with the curriculum and challenge, we supplemented with EPGY (online educational program for gifted youth out of Stanford University). This program was quite rigorous, but required a lot of supervision because of his age and the terseness of the material. But, it got him through pre-algebra before entering sixth grade.

Our plan was to continue EPGY at home and have him opt out of the CMP curriculum at school. I had met with a counselor in the spring before sixth grade to make arrangements so that his math class would be first or last period, but on the first day of school his schedule had math in the middle of the day so I went to the chair of the math department to discuss options. She convinced me to give CMP a try, in large part because of the strength of the math teachers at WMS. So here we are after two years of CMP. The chair of the department, who was supposed to teach my son's class for integrated one, has left the school, and Mr. Pounder, the strongest math teacher at the school, who would have taught integrated two, has gone to Hamilton. And now we have a new curriculum, new teachers and a lot of uncertainty as to whether it is challenging enough.

Having experienced EPGY and CMP, it was obvious to me how lacking the CMP curriculum was. He tested into pre-algebra at WMS, mainly because what he was learning through EPGY did not line up with what was tested on the placement test, which was primarily CMP 2 sixth grade curriculum, so there was a lot of review. But there has been tons of material that EPGY covered that CMP never came close to covering. The APP math curriculum using CMP, is just accelerated math for general that students, not mad at a depth that is preparing the kids for careers in science.

I have looked at the options, and these are the ones we who have considered.
- EPGY a very rigorous, but it is expensive and the user interface I found someone lacking.
- http://www.artofproblemsolving.com. Has lots of math courses, primarily targeted at kids that love math. The instructors for the most part, have written text books, or won math competitions.
- The other option, is Washington virtual academy, which has honors math classes.

At the beginning of the year we were contemplating dropping out of geometry and doing a class through art of problem solving, but recently we have changed our minds, not because we are not concerned about it, but because we are more concerned about science! To me it makes no sense, but spectrum kids at WMS are not grouped for science class, but with the general kids. For my son in particular, this has been extremely difficult. He is in APP math, and has no problem getting A's, but is in science where kids are having lots of problems converting units in the metric system. My son has taken lots of summer science camps, including two at the Robinson center at the University of Washington and it seems like a kid that is strong in math should get to be in an advanced science track as well. But the school will not allow it. What's more, the APP kids are now on an accelerated track for science, and so next year the biology classes at Garfield will have the same problem, because all the APP kids will be a year ahead and taking chemistry. So my solution is to have my son dropped out of eighth grade science and take HS biology through Washington virtual academy. Then I can get him on the APP track for science by high school.
SPS mom said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
anne said…
LG you said,

"In addition, I have very serious complaints about the demeanor of the geometry teacher, which don't need to be expanded on here. But I do have to say that they are the driving force for considering taking her out, not the lack of instruction. "

Our kids must have the same instructor. I've heard similar complaints from other parents and some moaning from my own son. So are you saying that the content of the class is OK, just not the way it is delivered?
gavroche said…
Clearly math is a disaster in this district and apparently the state. (Thanks for all the info, Dan.) I know of a number of teachers who are also having to 'undo' the spiral structure of the EDM/CMP math texts so they can teach a concept completely and not keep interrupting a thought just as kids are starting to learn it (which is what the 'spiraling' structure of these texts direct them to do).

Another thing I've noticed about EDM & CMP is that math now seems to overtake all other subjects. Homework at our house is 99% math math math -- at the expense it seems of writing and other subjects. One school I know of refers to "Everyday Math" as "All-day Math" because the curriculum monopolizes so much of everyone's time (as mandated by the district?).

Yet, despite all the time, it doesn't appear to be resulting in mathematical mastery.

Dan -- what math textbooks or series would you recommend for elem, MS & HS to any parents who may decide to take control of their kid's math education?

What textbooks are other more mathematically successful districts using? What did San Diego choose after it dumped Discovering and is it any better? What should we be buying at Math n'Stuff --Singapore, Saxon?

(And who voted for this garbage?!)
Dorothy Neville said…
"What's frustrating is that it introduces concepts through the homework. You have to guess the objective of the particular problem in order to guide your child through the problem - then the key concept that has been introduced seems to get no further mention in the book."

SPSMom! This was supposedly specifically addressed. The teachers are absolutely forbidden to give such homework. Homework is to be simply extra practice in skills learned in school, NOT learning something new. There was a districtwide promise about this during one of the adoption discussions, let me see if I can dig it up.

(I am a former math teacher who tutors math and is frustrated when the kids get this sort of homework. All too often, even though it isn't supposed to happen. As a former math teacher, I can figure out what the concept is that they are trying to teach, and help motivate it, clear up misunderstandings, but not everyone has access to someone like me.

One of my tutees moved to private school this year specifically due to math.)
hschinske said…
You know, not so long ago (2005) we were looking at drafts of new standards for Spectrum and APP math that would have meant a *lot* more students would qualify for Algebra 1 in sixth grade. I remember them even if no one else does ...

Helen Schinske
Jet City mom said…
If the Board was looking for a poison pill to drive people away, weaken the schools, make parents so dissatisfied they would demand change, and ultimately make the district ripe for "reforms" like privatization or mayoral control, they found it in embracing discovery, inquiry based math.

It almost seems like they planned it this way.
SPS parent said…
Why not keep your kid in his/her math class at school instead of pulling him out and having him sit in the library, being a T/A, or doing some other form of "busy work". Then, once home from school teach your child math yourself, hire a tutor, enroll in Kumon, or???? We found that CMP isn't damaging, it's just not enough, so we kept our kid in his math classes, but supplemented heavily at home.

The only real issue with this, is that then the district continues to get away with teaching a crappy curriculum. If people started pulling their kids out it might get noticed, especially APP kids at Hamilton.
Rose M said…
These are options that families I know have used for elementary & middle school math.

In addition to math class, parents have used Kumon, after school tutor, in school tutor pulling kids from class (with teacher & school agreement), parents do computation drills at home, parents work through Singapore math at home, parents use other math workbooks or texts at home.

Instead of math class at school parents have taken child out of school to do online courses at home through Epgy, UNL independent study high school, EA2 school at northgate, tutor at public library, home school using various texts.

Since previously students did not receive high school credit for middle school classes parents I know have not worried about kids missing credit for algebra or geometry.

I know many parents who have decided they can not leave their child’s math solely up to the district. Some times they have banded together to offer math help to groups of children or volunteered in classrooms to work with groups of children who could not be successful with EDM/CMP2, or who needed acceleration(with teacher’s agreement).

Most of the above math options are not ones families have been able to keep up long term. Usually it has been for a year or 2. Kumon , after school tutoring and parents doing math drills or workbooks have been the ones most likely to last more than 2 years.
Dorothy Neville said…
"We found that CMP isn't damaging"

I'd agree that for some it isn't damaging. I'd agree that for some kids, with the right teacher, it's actually pretty good. But for some kids math at school, whether EDM or CMP or something else *IS* damaging. Long term damaging.
Jet City mom said…
^^^we did hire a math tutor- so even though my daughter has processing challenges and most homework takes longer than for other children, additional math homework takes additional time.

( not to mention MONEY that we did not have- isn't that a factor for anyone else? )

I agree that math instruction is a major factor in pushing parents away from the district, and had I any idea that the curriculum was going to be so bad I would have never taken her out of private school.

For those who are very gifted even with learning issues the private schools can be much more flexible and of course the EEP program at the UW is available for exceptional students-
but for the most part students who have parents or other adults who can " reteach" what they should be learning for math will struggle through, others will just struggle.
Lynne Cohee said…
Something I find interesting is that it is not just SPS that uses CMP2. The curriculum is also used in local private schools. University Prep uses it in 6th and 7th grade, and at least a few years back when we looked at private middle schools Bush was using it as well -- not sure if they still do. It did work fine for my older son, who then moved on to a traditional Algebra I class in 8th grade.

Re EDM -- it was a disaster for my then fourth grader the first year the district adopted it. For him being presented with three different methods to multiply and divide large numbers, none of which was taught to mastery, meant that he never learned any method at all. He required an after school tutor and much individual attention from his 5th grade teacher to catch up. BUT I have to say that I think the teacher's approach makes a huge amount of difference in dealing with the curriculum. His fourth grade teacher was angry about having to move to EDM and was quite upfront with the kids about her anger, taught it very much by the book, and made almost no attempt at differentiation. His fifth grade teacher approached it completely differently, much more flexibly, with lots of differentiation, and taught her students traditional algorithms if the EDM methods weren't working for that child.
SPS parent said…
The middle school that my son went to had tutors available in the library 4 days a week after school. I think most middle schools offer this. If your doesn't check with your nearest comprehensive HS. They all offer tutoring, and will likely take your middle schooler.

Many public libraries also offer free tutoring after school.

I have found the quality of tutors can range, as some are not specifically "math" tutors. When your child finds a particular tutor that he/she really likes and connects with, find out what days and times that tutor will be there, and seek him/her our.

And, it's all free.
ParentofThree said…
Bush and U Prep use CMP, so private schools are not the be all, end all, when it comes to math. I do know Bush just dumped Everyday Math this year, not sure what they replaced it with, but they did keep CMP.

We have a private math teacher once a week. But still continue to have the children keep up on thier school math, which for them is has not been an issue.
Jet City mom said…
The middle school that my son went to had tutors available in the library 4 days a week after school. I think most middle schools offer this. If your doesn't check with your nearest comprehensive HS. They all offer tutoring, and will likely take your middle schooler.

Many public libraries also offer free tutoring after school.

I have found the quality of tutors can range, as some are not specifically "math" tutors. When your child finds a particular tutor that he/she really likes and connects with, find out what days and times that tutor will be there, and seek him/her our.

And, it's all free.

this must be a new thing ( my daughter graduated in '08)
as we couldn't find tutoring that was consistent or appropriate for free and believe me we looked.
even the middle school math teacher who had pledged to help her before school only agreed to do that once a week.
If I couldn't find the free resources as a parent group chair who was familiar with Seattle, I doubt others would have an easier time.
SPS mom said…
On book recommendations-

For beginning middle school math I am using "Mathematics Structure and Method: Course 1" by Mary P. Dolciani, et. al, copyright *1979* by Houghton Mifflin Co. It cost all of about $10 used and is excellent for covering basic skills and concepts: rules (yes, actual rules) for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division; factors; decimals; percents; fractions; areas and volumes; positive/negative numbers; and simple statistics and probability.

And Dorothy - both EDM and CMP introduce new topics or skills in their homework. It is one of my biggest pet peeves. I think kids should have math homework that is mostly practice and an extension of what was learned in class - homework that requires minimal parental help. Yet many homework sessions turn into mini-math lessons at our house.

The most egregious homework I remember was a page from 3rd grade EDM - it was a series of algebra problems solving for unknowns. The only way kids could have solved the problems at this age was through guess and check. Very tedious, and in my mind, the wrong approach mathematically. It was completely inappropriate for a 3rd grader - it's middle school math. They had not yet learned some of the rules that would help them solve the problem.

When given enough of these formidable problems, even the most competent kid starts to think they are "not good at math." It is damaging on many levels.
anne said…
"Bush and U Prep use CMP, so private schools are not the be all, end all, when it comes to math. I do know Bush just dumped Everyday Math this year, not sure what they replaced it with, but they did keep CMP."

I know a seventh grader at Bush who moved to the advanced math class and is not using CMP.

Also, if you look at the curriculum guide for HS on mercer island, they use Discovery for the general track and another one for the advanced track.
Dorothy Neville said…
SPSMom, I know it happens that homework often has introduces concepts, I just want everyone to know that it is explicitly against district policy. I am still trying to find it though. It was in one of the board presentations about adoptions.

Unfortunately, the "reform" math contingent, especially UW math education, has completely drunk the guess-and-check koolaid. Guessing and estimating are valid useful skills, but MUST be married to logical thinking. I agree with you, I hate when work requires blind guess and check. That is one of my biggest peeves. So damaging to real growth as logical thinkers and users of mathematics.
Anne, all I can say is wow and good for you. That's a lot of research and work for your family to have taken on. Thanks for the input.
We homeschooled our daughter in middle school math last year so as to avoid Connected Mathematics (presented via a discovery model). We tried the CMP class for 3 months, but ultimately, it was becoming counterproductive.

We used Saxon Math and Singapore Math together, adjusting the levels to fit (Saxon goes more slowly, but also has great practice). We did do the paperwork to be officially homeschooling in just mathematics, and we also chose for the first time to opt out of the math WASL last spring. Our daughter took the other WASLs.

This is how we worked it.
Each day during math class, our daughter took work we gave her into the library or into a small room in the principal's office and did her work there. We did not allow headphones, but she could have a snack and drink. She enjoyed it, she took it seriously and she achieved much.

In a 7-month period, we got through Saxon 7/6, much of Saxon Algebra 1/2, Singpore Math 5A (twice), 5B, 6A and most of 6B. We did not push her. She knew that the pace was up to her, but -- free from distraction, group insanity, and pointless activities, she moved out smartly.
She also did many practice problems I gave her. I made the problems personal to her and funny, with a ghost and a cat who gave her helpful hints or who made her laugh. We had much fun with this, and she came to enjoy the ghost's helpfulness and the cat's witty asides.

There was a bit of an adjustment period with her friends ("Why aren't you ever in math class?") but we chose to not make a federal case of this or get into the issues. I told my daughter if the other parents wanted to talk about it, I would be happy to do it, but she was not to engage in the politics of it with her friends.

I think our daughter's teachers were impressed with the work she did on her own. I know I'm impressed. She is back in class this year, unfortunately with Core-Plus, but the emphasis is now on more algebra. We're on the fence, and we're still supplementing, but at a slower pace. We'll see about next year. Much depends on what Spokane does with its high school curriculum adoption. If it ends up being more reform, we'll have to revisit this.

Anyone who wants to know more about how we worked our system last year is welcome to write to me at wlroge@comcast.net

Laurie Rogers
Spokane, WA
SPS parent said…
In reference to free tutoring emeraldkity said "this must be a new thing ( my daughter graduated in '08)"

Not new at all, my eldest son is out of middle school now but used the free tutoring all through 7th and 8th grades. He's a freshman at Hale now. In the NE Eckstein, Hamilton and Kellogg (shoreline) all offer the tutoring. Some schools don't call it tutoring, they call it "homework club" or "homework center". No matter what it's called it's a quiet place to do school work where tutors and teachers are roving around the room.

All of our NE branch libraries offer it too.

I bought my son a set of Singapore workbooks from math n stuff and would give him "assignments" to do after school at the "homework club". He always found a favorite tutor, who got to know him, and would become familiar with his skill level.

This took all of the stress of "parent as teacher" out of the equation, and made life much easier. Though there was still some resentment for having him do the extra work.

It worked very well and was all free.
SE Mom said…
I know this has been mentioned before on other threads, but several of the k-8's have after school math enrichment classes.

It does not directly address the issues with regular math during the school day, but it does help from my point of view.

TOPS has a parent organized Geometry class for interested 8th graders.The goal is to get through an entire year of high school Geometry using a traditional text (Harold Jacobs). They meet once a week and there is a good amount of weekly homework. My daughter is really jazzed about it.

It took alot of time over the summer to find and hire an enrichment teacher and then get the class set up and enrolled, but again, worth the effort.

All the 8th graders are getting Algebra I in their regular class.

I also know that Blaine does something similar.
dan dempsey said…

San Diego switched to Prentice Hall, which was recently adopted by Shoreline over Discovering Series used by Seattle.

Mary P. Dolcini has a pre-algebra book as well as an algebra book.

The big problem occurs k-4 which is difficult to turn around. When Sacramento switched to Saxon at the elementary grades it was very noticeable in improved test scores when those kids arrived at high school.

Who voted for this?
Board vote on CMP2 was 6-1
Soriano in opposition.

Board voted 6-0 for EDM
Irene Stewart absent.

Board voted 4-3 for Discovering
Chow, Sundquist, Carr, Meier for.
DeBell, Martin-Morris, Bass opposed.

Those in opposition noted SPS on wrong track k-8 and this is more of same NOT the needed correction.

Sundquist stated he read NMAP. If he read it, he missed all the major parts of it.

Back to Books....
Singapore is fantastic but will be difficult to start after grade 3 unless you begin with lower level books. If a kid can do all of Singapore Grade 6 they are ready for high school math in the SPS. (Do they even teach high school math in the SPS?)

The State top rated books are also OK. Math Connects, Math Expressions.
Holt for High School. OSPI never looked carefully at Prentice Hall said no money to do so.

At the next school board meeting there is an introduction item for about $1,000,000 bucks to Sylvan to provide services.

WOW!!! look what happens when there is NO maintenance. The failure of the SPS to follow the policies D44 and D45 and provide effectice interventions at each grade level instead of social promotion is I guess just like the leaky roof. It needed fixing but no one cared enough .... so NOW $1,000,000 to Sylvan.

OSPI should get a referral fee from Sylvan for helping create this situation BUT local control needs to be accountable for this one.

Oh I forgot there is NO accountability in the SPS.
SPS parent said…
Just FYI, I am not saying the free tutoring is the best way to go. It's hit and miss with the tutors, and certainly nowhere near as good as having your own private tutor.

But it is free and available to all.
dan dempsey said…
More on High School Math materials HERE
dan dempsey said…
Think about teaching math classes in the SPS with the SPS math leadship direction....Then

Check this out at ED WEEK

40% of Teachers are Disheartened

Published Online: October 19, 2009

State of Mind

America's teaching corps is made up of three groups with distinct attitudes about their profession, which has implications for policymakers.
By Andrew L. Yarrow

Two out of five of America’s 4 million K-12 teachers appear disheartened and disappointed about their jobs
, while others express a variety of reasons for contentment with teaching and their current school environments, new research by Public Agenda and Learning Point Associates shows.

The nationwide study, “Teaching for a Living: How Teachers See the Profession Today,” whose results are being reported here for the first time, offers a comprehensive and nuanced look at how teachers differ in their perspectives on their profession, why they entered teaching, the atmosphere and leadership in their schools, the problems they face, their students and student outcomes, and ideas for reform. Taking a closer look at the nation’s teacher corps based on educators’ attitudes and motivations for teaching could provide some notable implications for how to identify, retain, and support the most effective teachers, according to the researchers.
Dorothy Neville said…
Found it. At least this is one reference to homework only being practice.
Source: Elementary Math Adoption Board Intro Report of 5-16-07
Appendix 1: Strategies for Improving Mathematics Education in Seattle Public Schools
B. There will be a strong emphasis and expectation that teachers will only assign homework that has been pre-taught in classrooms. In order to build family support and connection to schooling, homework will consist of additional practice activities with clear explanations and directions.
dan dempsey said…

In regard to Practice:

They must have changed their minds by May 2009. Here is school board testimony by RBHS math teacher Glenda Madison.

My name is Glenda Madison and I teach math at Rainier Beach High School. I am here to speak about the proposed math adoption. Based on my many years of teaching math in the Seattle Public Schools, I truly believe that the two most recent curriculum adoptions decisions, the IMP adoption and the Discovering Series proposed adoption, have shown little concern for the majority of our students. I am talking about the curricular needs of the many students, who are not well-prepared for high school mathematics, the students who are at the bottom of the achievement gap in mathematics. This gap will not begin to close until we align the curriculum and instruction across the district.

In my almost 40 years of teaching math, the students who are successful, who do well in their math classes – and by successful, I mean those students who exhibited mastery of certain mathematics concepts, who could retain a certain amount of knowledge from year to year, not just day to day, and use that knowledge as a step to get to the next level of mathematics – those students who do well have to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. This series does not allow for that kind of activity. I’m certain this is one of the reasons the State Board of Education declared the Discovering Series as “mathematically unsound”.

I read an article that said kids who are labeled “smart kids” are not necessarily smarter than the others. Those students are being given the time and resources for doing more deliberate practice designed to help them strengthen their skills and understanding. Unfortunately, this group is not the majority of our students. The majority of our students need that extra practice, that extra time, that extra help.

Teachers have been asked to “differentiate instruction” with no curriculum material support to serve the needs of the children who need the most help, thereby leaving their entire mathematics teaching up to the teachers. I have been working with these students for my entire teaching career. These are the students who are on the low side of the achievement gap. It is time for the district to provide these students and their teachers with resources focused on their learning needs.

It is time for the district to provide a mathematics curriculum that will meet the needs of ALL of our students.

Educational decision making remains a "Club Sport" far beyond the constraints of logic or evidence.
dan dempsey said…
I should have said "educational decision making at the administrative and board level is a "Club Sport"".

There are huge numbers of decisions made daily by every teacher that are usually well reasoned and evidence based.
Brandon Hansen said…
Math has always been a difficult subject for students pick up. Not just in elementary school but high school and college as well.

Webster said…
mathematics is a broader subject than your comment would suggest Brandon.

For instance while my older daughter has a math disability, her high school math program uses Mathematica and it prepared her to go on to major in biology at Reed college, where the lowest level math course is calculus.
southmom said…
We lived through EDM in the third grade last year and ended up paying many, many, many dollars to a terrific tutoring center to teach our kid the basics. It may work for kids with an instinctive grasp/love for math, but that would not describe my child, who was pretty average at the topic. It is awful for sequential learners like her. Nobody thinks you can play an instrument without practice, or become a competent chess player without clear rules and practice, but somehow it's suppose to work in EDM.
Charlie Mas said…
It may be that the only way that we can convince the adminsitration to alter the math instruction is to not only opt out of the class, but - even more importantly - to opt out of the math WASL.

The District points at WASL scores as evidence that the math instruction is working when many of the student who are actually learning math are learning it outside of class.

If you're teaching math to your child at home, then you owe it to the community to hold that child out of the math WASL. Otherwise you are contributing to a false assessment of the effectiveness of the instruction.
SolvayGirl said…
Charlie said: "If you're teaching math to your child at home, then you owe it to the community to hold that child out of the math WASL. Otherwise you are contributing to a false assessment of the effectiveness of the instruction."

I think he's absolutely right on about this. Is the District getting the credit for math education when it is really a patchwork of various tutors, math-centric parents, and learning services like Kumon?

Maybe folks should start "billing" the District for their tutoring costs...ah in a prefect world.
SPS mom said…
The District is being billed for some of the tutoring costs: the Board will soon be asked to approve another $1M for Sylvan Learning tutoring services under sanctions of NCLB.
gavroche said…
SPS mom said...
The District is being billed for some of the tutoring costs: the Board will soon be asked to approve another $1M for Sylvan Learning tutoring services under sanctions of NCLB.

Sounds like NCLB is a sweet deal for Sylvan...
BL said…
Gavroche said:
Sounds like NCLB is a sweet deal for Sylvan...

It sounds like EDM is a sweet deal for Sylvan too!
LG said…
Anne, you asked about the Washington geometry teacher.

"Our kids must have the same instructor. I've heard similar complaints from other parents and some moaning from my own son. So are you saying that the content of the class is OK, just not the way it is delivered?"

Many APP students can learn math no matter what the approach is. I'd have to help my daughter some with this type of curriculum no matter who the teacher is.

And she's mostly wasting her in-class time because the teacher doesn't actually teach the material. But even that I let happen in 5th and 6th grade.

What makes me want to pull her out is the negative relationship he has with the students. He can be mean, and that is not what I want my daughter to endure.
Josh Hayes said…
Well, we weren't teaching math at home until this last summer, when both my kids expressed concerns that they weren't math-savvy enough.

My 6th-grade son, supposedly having finished 7th-grade math, was able to handle the 6th-grade Singapore course with only a little help (needed to be shown how to deal with story problems; once he got the hang of it he was fine). My 3rd-grade daughter was extremely upset, because she hadn't learned anything about the metric system (which Singapore assumes), nor had she learnt long division, which Singapore tackles in 3rd grade. Took some time, but she got it.

The point is, neither one was beyond grade level, or even comfortable AT grade level, according to Singapore. This despite the fact that both of them had breezed through the WASL math components last spring ("exceeds expectations"). I can't see any way out of teaching math again next summer.
SolvayGirl said…
My daughter was math phobic through the upper grades in public elementary school (ending 5th grade in 2006). I remember one homework problem that was so onerous that my husband brought it to work for a number of engineers to ponder. No one could figure it out. My daughter believe she "was not good at math," much to the dismay of her number-loving father.

She switched to an independent school for middle where they did traditional math. She finished up 8th grade with an A in Algebra. Dad was thrilled.

Now a freshman in another independent school, she is taking Geometry and is finding it easy to far. They are using Prentice Hall textbooks. She loves her teacher and is truly enjoying the course. Can't ask for more than that.
ParentofThree said…
So now a million dollars of our money is going to Sylvan. On top of $500k spent to buy more of the EDM math books that are failing our students.

$1.5 mill and counting SPS.....

and you want me to vote yes on your Levy because?
hschinske said…
Sylvan is like eight hundred bucks a month -- a frankly ridiculous price. I have never been able to see why anyone would pay it in the absence of specific, serious issues (dyslexia or something).

My daughters did EPGY for a while in second and third grade, but that also got too expensive very fast, especially when we realized the school was not going to pay any attention to the results (silly us, we thought transcripts from Johns Hopkins or Stanford might be worth something).

ALEKS (see www.aleks.com) is a lot cheaper ($19.95 a month to $179 a year) -- one of my daughters tried it a while ago, but was not motivated to keep up with it. If you have a kid who is even moderately keen on self-study, it looks like a fairly decent option, though. It's more of a supplement than a full program, is my impression.

Helen Schinske
TechyMom said…
Kumon is only $135/mo. Why did SPS choose Sylvan at $800?

VW says we should call the buncoe squad.
hschinske said…
I didn't mean SPS was paying $800 a month. That was the figure I heard from someone who had their child in Sylvan individually (and it's always possible that they had signed up for a more intensive tutoring program than most people do). Nonetheless, I have generally heard that Kumon is a bit cheaper.

Helen Schinske
Anonymous said…
Kumon is much cheaper, but it isn't "tutoring" in the same sense. Instead it is an alternative curriculum. They test and start the kid off at whatever level they determine he is at and work from there. So it isn't all that helpful with a child's current schoolwork. My then-4th grade son went in having trouble with things like long division and fractions -- well, they diagnosed his problem as originating with single-digit multiplication and that's where he started. It was many months before he did any Kumon work in the areas that originally inspired us to bring him there. Kumon is a long-term solution, not a homework-help solution.

I don't know first-hand what Sylvan offers, but when I called to inquire it sounded more like that they would work with him on the school assigned material he was having trouble with. It sounded like a more personalized solution than Kumon, which is possibly why it is so pricey. But personalized may not be necessary; Kumon required patience from us parents doing the driving and paying the tuition for remedial work, but the end result was worth it.

Some days I do feel like SPS should just outsource all elementary math to Kumon!
hschinske said…
Lisa, I hate to say it, but my fourth-grader in regular classes was not even TAUGHT fractions and long division. You were lucky they were even on offer!

Actually, I am not quite accurate: it was a 4/5 split class, and while the 5th graders were having FLASH, another 5th-grade teacher came in and gave a special lesson on fractions to the 4th graders. My daughter was so excited about it she PUT IT ON HER CALENDAR: "Ms. [Name] will teach us fractions today!!!!!"

Helen Schinske
Jet City mom said…
We looked / tried, at both kumon and sylvan (as well as a few others inc private tutoring).
While we paid quite a bit for the testing through Sylvan(they wanted to use their own), I decided against it because by far my impression was it was setup to sell services/product, to help children was incidential, no matter how experienced or helpful individual instructors may have been. (plus it was way more than we could spend for anything that wasnt first rate).
We did like the Greenwood Kumon, the owner was a certificated teacher and had experience in her own family working with learning differences, and was willing and able to make the very structured Kumon program work for our daughter. I would agree that Kumon is for longer term, we used it for the three years of middle school, it helped to fill in the huge gaps that the SPS curriculum leaves, however it is not specifically designed to help students get better WASL scores, but then I was more interested in learning long term than test scores.
Bird said…
Lisa, I hate to say it, but my fourth-grader in regular classes was not even TAUGHT fractions and long division. You were lucky they were even on offer!

Let me just say at this point ---- AAAAAAAGH!

Seriously, this was back in the day, right? Pre-EDM? How the heck *did* they spend their time in the fourth grade?

When I toured schools last year, I was impressed with the large amount of time that the schools are spending on math and reading. It's amazing that they use all that time so ineffectively.

Y'all are freakin' me out.
SPS parent said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
SPS parent said…
Helen said "Lisa, I hate to say it, but my fourth-grader in regular classes was not even TAUGHT fractions and long division. You were lucky they were even on offer!"

Helen you are right! My oldest son had no long division or fractions until 5th grade. And in 5th grade only had a few weeks of long division, and fraction lessons! His class mainly focused on mastering their times table. This was pre-EDM and our school was using TURK, which was so horrendous it makes EDM look like the jackpot.

Worse, when my son went to middle school where they used CMP2 he was not taught long division, as kids were expected to have already mastered it.

Needless to say we taught him long division at home, but have been surprised at how little kids ever use long division with CMP2 and IntI. They did however get to use calculators in MS, maybe that was part of the problem.

Today my son is a freshman at Hale, a year ahead in math (taking Geometry) and on track to earn honors.

You can imagine my shock when a couple of weeks ago he was trying to help his younger brother with math homework and he said "Oh I can't help you with long division, I don't remember how to do that". When I questioned him it was true. He really had no clue how to do long division.

SPS mom said…
EDM does little to teach the traditional long division algorithm - their "focus algorithm" is the "partial quotients" algorithm. It is based on simple multiples of 2,5,and 10, since it is unlikely that kids will have mastered their multiplication/division facts in order to do the traditional algorithm (unless there's supplementation or help at home). EDM does not stress automaticity with math facts. The coverage of fractions is also pretty weak.

How does this relate to middle school math? If kids don't have the basics of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division mastered by the end of elementary school, it becomes a roadblock for middle school math.

Your child could be coasting along with EDM and you would be unaware that there are issues until they get to middle school. This is because EDM does not expect mastery - parents are reassured that it's ok if students "don't get it" the first time around because the topic will be introduced again later.
Rose M said…
Some teachers do work on computational fluency, but there is a lot of pressure to spend class time keeping up with the EDM pacing guide.

Before EDM, I knew of schools where every child had to be fluent with multiplication by the end of 3rd grade, long division by the end of 4th grade & fractions by the end of 5th grade.

At least one of the schools that had grade level fluency expectations before EDM has dropped them. That is part of the curriculum standardization that really saddens me.

It seems that it is up to parents, if they value computational fluency, to provide practice outside of school.

I think that to be successful with algebra, students need to be able to calculate quickly & accurately when they solve equations.
wseadawg said…
Ugh! How RIDICULOUS it is that we even must have this discussion!

Once again, those with means can pay for their own math if they don't like what the school offers. Is this what we pay taxes and support levies for? Exactly what business model are MGJ and her minions on the Board following where as the customers complain and complain, you simply give them more of what they are complaining about?

What business would stay open a day operating like that?

When will the outrages cease?
My kids do Kumon, and I wouldn't call it an alternate curriculum. I can't see it standing on its own. There are no real story problems, it's just computational fluency. Which is a good complement to EDM and CMP. Great -- if you can squeeze out the $110 per kid per month (at U Village).

What about the new "Math and Science" high school at Cleveland? If the district offered traditional math there -- and teachers who believe in traditional math -- I think families would love it and enrollment would go through the roof!
Dana said…
My daughter is currently a 6th grader at Eckstein and is taking math through WAVA (www.wava.org), an online public school affiliated with K12 (www.k12.com). She was in a Spectrum classroom last year so used the 6th- and some 7th-grade CMP booklets, and we had some major concerns about the texts. Although she did well in math last year (i.e., she would ultimately master the concepts), she was frequently frustrated by the books and seemed to learn the most when we worked together at home. We have been supplementing math with Singapore since she was in 3rd grade (her 1st/2nd grade teacher was so great with supplementing that we didn’t realize how horrible TERC was until 3rd grade), and I think she really would have struggled had she not had that foundation.
I have heard great things about Eckstein’s math program, so we had not planned on homeschooling math, hoping instead that the teachers would fill in the holes in CMP. We only stumbled upon WAVA as an option for math after we went looking for PE alternatives when we found out that Eckstein doesn’t grant 6th grade PE waivers. In addition to PE (where you simply report time spent in supervised physical activity), WAVA offers online classes in math and other “traditional” subjects.

In making our decision about whether to use WAVA for math, the “pros” for us were: 1) rigorous materials (see below), 2) flexible pacing/ability to accelerate, 3) can tailor work/practice to my daughter’s needs, 4) no classroom down time, 5) late start at Eckstein (might be a con for some), 6) flexibility with when work gets done (very important for us, as it allows my daughter to maintain extra-curricular schedule), 7) no worries about incorrect placement by district/school test, 8) no worries about getting a poor match between a teacher and my daughter, 9) free

The “cons” were: 1) time commitment (though, honestly, it’s not much more than what I put in before), 2) not in math class with peers (but she sees them every other period, so this is not really a problem, not to mention that she doesn’t have to contend with the “girls shouldn’t be good at math” stereotype)

Our decision was pretty clear-cut. (continued)
Dana said…
(cont...) As mentioned by someone else, WAVA uses the Dolciani series for middle school math:
* Pre-Algebra A (typically for WAVA’s 6th graders) uses Mathematics: Structure and Method Course 1
* Pre-Algebra B (typically for 7th graders) uses Mathematics: Structure and Method Course 2. As someone mentioned, this is an old book, but it is still being printed (we received a brand new copy from WAVA)
* Algebra (typically for 8th graders) uses Algebra: Structure and Method

All of these textbooks received good reviews on Mathematically Correct, and the ones we've seen (the pre-algebra texts) seem like they provide a very solid foundation. My daughter is using the Pre Algebra B book, and we are very happy with it. I wouldn’t say that it’s visually appealing (colorful, pictures, etc), but this doesn’t seem t bother my daughter. In addition to basic math skills like fractions and operations with positive/negative numbers, these texts also cover many algebra topics, including basic mathematical properties (defined), isolating variables and simplifying equations, and performing operations on polynomials (factoring trinomials is an “extension” section). There is also a fair amount of geometry and statistics/probability (including permutations & combinations).

WAVA is designed to allow a huge amount of flexibility. Kids take an online assessment at the beginning of the school year, and parents receive feedback on this within a couple of weeks. This can help in placement, but parents (within reason) can specify where they want their kid to begin. Before we received assessment results, we requested Pre-Algebra B, and there were no questions asked. There are about 180 lessons per yearlong course, and only 160 required lessons (the remaining 20 can be skipped or can be used for review, enrichment, catch-up, etc). If kids are knowledgeable with the content of a particular required lesson and don’t need more practice, they can skip the practice exercises and simply complete the assessment (usually 4-5 problems) to demonstrate competency. If kids finish a book by the end of March, WAVA will send them the next book.

As part of WAVA, my daughter is required to have weekly contact with her WAVA teacher. This contact can take many forms (replying to a weekly question, attending an online conference-style lesson, emailing the teacher with questions). We are also required to conference with the teacher once every 3-4 weeks and send in samples of work every month or so. She will take the WASL-like test in the spring, but she will do so through WAVA (so I don’t think SPS will count her scores in their own statistics).

WAVA, as a public school, is free. But, to participate in WAVA part-time we had to apply for cross-district dual enrollment. Unfortunately, this was not easy. The middle school WAVA is part of the Steilacoom School District (high school is with another district...can’t recall which one now), so SPS and Steilacoom must work out an agreement. Apparently, Seattle’s dual-enrollment policies are different from many other districts in the state, but, quite honestly, SPS’s enrollment office (and ultimately their legal office) was very helpful and responsive; our problems were with communicating with WAVA. But all worked out in the end. If anyone else plans to do this next year, I would recommend starting the enrollment process early in the summer.
Dana said…
(continued...) As far as my daughter’s schedule, Eckstein arranged for her to miss her first two periods. I am not sure how this would have worked if I did not have a flexible work schedule and/or my daughter wasn’t close enough to walk/bike on her own, but it is working well for our family. I’m not sure what we’ll do when we get to high school, but we will definitely consider WAVA.

My son is currently a 3rd-grader, and I imagine that we’ll do something similar with him. I plan to continue supplementing with Singapore at home while he’s in elementary (btw, he’s currently working on long division in the Singapore 3RD grade book); this is working fine for us. EDM isn’t great, but we concur that it’s better than TERC, so we’re feeling ok with how things are going so far(the worst part is that there are many more families out there who don’t have the means to supplement).
Anonymous said…
Well, my oldest child is only in 1st grade and I'm already very unimpressed with EDM. What gets me are the homework sheets that ask you a pretty straightforward question such as "if one nickel is worth five pennies, then how much are 2 nickels worth?" and then follow it up with "explain how you figured it out." Hmm, is this math, or English? These are six year olds, after all. There are a lot of folks, including adults, who intuitively grasp math, but can't verbally expain it, and your math grade should not depend on your ability to explain basic arithmetic in a series of sentences. It's pretty obvious that a kid who answers "10" understands the thought process, and one who gets a different answer doesn't. Whether or not they can explain it has a lot more to do with their verbal ability than their understanding of math.

I am definielty concerned about what she will be learning, but with four kids, the youngest of whom is disabled, we don't have the time to teach them all math ourself because the schoolm district won't. Nor do we have the money to send four kids through private tutoring, so I'm not sure yet what we will do for the moment it's not a big problem, but it sounds like it's only a few years until the kids are way behind where they should be.
dan dempsey said…
Wseadawg said:

"Once again, those with means can pay for their own math if they don't like what the school offers. Is this what we pay taxes and support levies for? Exactly what business model are MGJ and her minions on the Board following where as the customers complain and complain, you simply give them more of what they are complaining about?"

Peter Maier told me during his campaign that he was tired of the same people testifying at board meetings over and over again on the same issue.

Note to Peter:
"Fix something"
SPS mom said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dorothy Neville said…
Speaking of math, did you see Cliff Mass's blog today?
Dorothy Neville said…
Also, make sure you see this comment in Cliff's Math post.

The switch to Everyday Math is still in transition; not taught in the Montessori classroom.
I am asked to introduce my child to Everyday Math at night using the web/online manual as a tutorial reference.

Helping my child to learn is a task I cherish, but in this case the logic is flawed, i.e. the online, Everyday Math pages do not correlate to the Everyday Math book (page numbers and their content are not the same and I have no context for teaching the curriculum. To patch the void, an answer sheet is sent home to support the Everyday Math homework assignments.

Anybody with a child in SPS Montessori want to share? I can't tell if the commentor on Cliff's blog is in SPS or not.
dj said…
I am 99% sure that when we were in the Montessori program at T.T. Minor, the teacher used EDM.
Anonymous said…
Three years ago (EDM's 1st year) it was required. So teachers taught EDM and Montessori-style math both. I'm guessing the teacher was a wreck at the end of the year! After that, they moved most of the EDM to homework and focus on Montessori math teaching at school.

This means that homework and schoolwork are unconnected, which to me devalues having homework at all. Still, the EDM worksheets ARE a kind of math practice. I'm trying to discourage dd from even bothering with the online EDM resources. We use other math websites when definitions or methods stump us both -- dd likes this one: http://www.teachers.ash.org.au/jeather/maths/dictionary.html.

I have not had any problem finding the supporting material on the EDM site but it is poorly written (the number system that links worksheet to resource book is a bit arcane but I'm now used to it). Dd often doesn't understand after reading the resource guide, or the explanation is circular so if the one word she is stumbling over is key the explanation is no help.
Anonymous said…
oops. That web address should end "dictionary.html"
Unknown said…
A bunch of Seattle-area parents have been using Math-Whizz alongside school to get a more focused math instruction. Everett, Bellevue, Shoreline, Bellingham and Richland districts have added Math-Whizz in some way or others to their elementary and middle-school classrooms.
SPS mom said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dorothy Neville said…
I just had a chat with an old friend who teaches mathematics at a small private college in Indiana. She's been teaching college for years (we were in grad school together).

Said they've redone their calculus to go slower and have added a quantitative methods class for the students who just cannot pass the competency test. She doesn't teach the Methods class, but her colleague who does is simply shocked at the lack of number sense the students have.

My friend is currently frustrated with her Linear Algebra class. A mix of math and physics majors, they just aren't getting it. She said they just don't know how to do a proof, and claim that they didn't really do any proofs in high school geometry.

Said that the latest MAA journal is full of letters complaining that high school is pushing calculus on more kids but they are missing basic algebra competency. My friend can agree. She is often surprised when lecturing that students stop and ask about very basic algebraic steps. This just didn't use to happen.

Oh, and at UW, Calculus and Honors Chemistry allow a simple scientific calculator for tests, but no programmable or graphing calculators. (yay!)
SPS parent said…
"complaining that high school is pushing calculus on more kids but they are missing basic algebra competency. "

Honestly, I don't think it's the high schools pushing for students to take calculus, I think it's Universities. It is so competitive to get into college these days that students have to take higher level math just to be considered for admissions. Kids feel forced to get through Alg and Geometry so they can take pre Calc, Calc and statistics.
SolvayGirl said…
I agree with adhoc. The competition for college placement—especially at the affordable and high-quality state universities is pushing our kids to reach for a higher and higher bar. I never did any prep for the SATs and got a decent grade. Now the kids and parents stress about it so much it makes them crazy.
dan dempsey said…
Despite increasing numbers of students attempting calculus in high school the results are NOT looking good. For in college...... absolute numbers of students enrolled in University second year Calculus have been declining for two decades. Yup total number of students enrolled in College has risen but the opposite is true for second year Calculus.

The number of engineers graduating has also declined.

The pathetic results are evident at every level and yet the board continues to listen to "The Club Ed" professionals that produced this calamity. What are these directors thinking?
dan dempsey said…
Correct link for Math Whizz is HERE .
Hamilton Student said…
It's true, middle school math is not very inquiry-based...it's a bit boring, especially the "CMP2" now "CMP3" (taught to Common Core). However, Hamilton M.S. now has a three-year pathway, starting with Alg. 1. It's 6th grade Algebra 1 Honors, 7th Geometry Honors, and then Pre-Calculus Honors in 8th ("skipping" Algebra 2)! Of course, for those who took Geometry in 6th (there are a FEW), it's still a problem.
SOURCE: I took Algebra in 6th, with Mr. Buchanan

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