Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Singapore Math: Great and Quick Results in California and Kentucky

It is interesting to see that more and more schools across the nation are tired of the limitations and awful test results of our Reform or New Math curriculum, including TERC and Everyday Math. The fact these school districts are being pro-active and successful at adopting alternative math programs is very encouraging. Hopefully their wisdom will spread across the nation.

Below are two articles on how school districts in California and Kentucky adopted Singapore Math with successful results. Please note the adoption dates: it doesn’t take years to get good results.

I want to thank Beth Schultz of the American Math Forum for bringing the Santa Catalina article to my attention and Cassandra Turner’s blog for doing same with Kentucky article.

A word of caution: Some math experts rate “Math in Focus” (the one adopted in Fayette, Kentucky) as much less rigorous than “Primary Mathematics” (the one adopted in California). Nevertheless, while I’m not an educator or math expert, I believe if a school had to choose between any “Reform Math” program (TERC, EM, etc.) and Math in Focus, the latter should be the choice each and every time.

For a fuller understanding of what the Singapore Math “mastery first” and “sequencing” program is all about, please take a look at this document.

From The Herald:

April 5, 2011

“It seems a small thing, concentrating on basics, making sure students master concepts before moving on, but proponents of Singapore Math say the system is dramatically improving math scores at Santa Catalina School.

“Davidson said a lack of emphasis on teaching basic skills in the lower grades is partly to blame for poor test results at schools nationwide. For example, students are expected to grasp algebra and geometry without having mastered fractions and ratios.

Singapore Math specialist Bill Davidson said the curriculum builds upon preceding levels of knowledge to achieve mastery.

"It's like rungs in a ladder," he said. "Before you move up to the higher rung, you have to master the rungs below. We go into more detail covering fewer topics."

Davidson called math a fundamental skill connecting to all other types of learning. "Math teaches you how to think," he said. "I want our students to learn to be great thinkers."

And in Fayette County, Kentucky, the school district adopted “Math in Focus”, with such good results that it is expected to be adopted by other school districts

Editorial, April 2, 2011

“But despite all the praise “new math” received from educators when it was first introduced, it has not helped improve the math scores of American students. Just the opposite, in fact. The math scores of American students continue to decline when compared to the scores of students in other nations at a rate that should alarm us.

Singapore math was introduced in the Lexington schools as a pilot program in 2009 and the math scores of at least three schools have increased significantly.  That led to the Lexington school board to approve an expansion of the pilot project.

“… expect Singapore math to spread across the state, and if it succeeds in raising the math scores of Kentucky kids, “new math” soon will be old ...  and forgotten.”

No comments:

Post a Comment