Friday, October 31, 2008

The Intent Of This Site.....

As a proud supporter of the Camdenton Schools, I feel lucky that my children get to attend such a great school. I believe that we are fortunate to have exceptional teachers and administrators! This is not a witch hunt!!!!! I do, however, believe that we the parents need to take a closer look at a specific area of our elementary school childrens education (math) at this time. The intent of this site is to educate parents as to what is going on with the new math curriculum being introduced to our children. I ask this question: How many of you have found it to be frustrating to attempt to help your elementary school student do his/her math homework this year? How many of you have sent their home work back to school with a note to the teacher asking for guidance? Have you wondered where is their math book? If you feel "in the dark" you are not alone!!!
If you are one of the lucky ones whose kid does "get it" and you have not noticed any problem with the new should still worry.

Take a look at this insight: Taken from
Investigations Math Summary--Bad Fuzzy Math
Have you ever wondered why so many Charter schools are having success in our area? They seem to fill pretty quickly and more pop up every year. The core problem we face in Utah is low state education standards, especially for math. Investigations math and the set of curricula like it that encourage personal discovery of math facts are receiving a strong push into our schools by the state board. However, these curricula are all being condemned by hundreds of college professors and Nobel Laureates. They see what's happening to our youth and are trying to avert a complete disaster in the future.
Dr. Wilfred Schmid at Harvard said of the TERC program (Investigations Math):
"A TERC teacher doesn't explain, and a TERC teacher doesn't teach! I don't want to be misunderstood: group learning and discovery learning are parts of the tool chest of every accomplished teacher, but it is folly to turn these techniques into an ideology. If we mathematicians had to re-discover mathematics on our own, we would not get very far! And indeed, TERC does not get very far. By the end of fifth grade, TERC students have fallen roughly two years behind where they should be."
Schmid, Wilfried. "Remarks on Investigations in Number, Data and Space (TERC)." opening remarks delivered at the NYC HOLD Math Forum. Are our school's math programs adequate? Experimental mathematics programs and their consequences. New York University Law School, NYC, June 6, 2001.

**Do you realize that the Columbia Public Schools, who trained our school district in this math curriculum, have recently abandoned the same curriculum due to a massive public outcry in their community due to documented failure rates all over the country.
After weeks of feeling like it must just be me, and we were the only ones that were frustrated...I started asking questions of other parents and teachers in our district. I was astounded that I am not alone. Not by a longshot! I realized that there are LOTS of parents out there scratching their heads and feeling in the dark... and wondering what is going on. Well, it just so happens that an ever increasing number of parents are expressing the same concerns about the various math curricula currently being used in the Camdenton Public Schools. These experimental math programs go by the names of Investigations (TERC), Connected Math (CMP), Intergrated Math (Core Plus), New New Math, Fuzzy Math, IMP, Everyday Math, etc. They go by different names, but are all the same. They emphasize "self discovery" over mathmatical competency. We parents should be concerned because these curricula have been discredited and abandoned in other regions of the country after they failed to deliver demonstrable results. These failed curricula are currently the only method of instruction in the elementary grades at this time in our district, which is a big concern. What I am finding is this: The more questions I ask, and the more I research what our kids are being taught the more I worry. I believe we should all be asking questions and doing our own research on what is going on with how our kids are learning the fundamentals of math. Simply put, when I told my husband that according to all of my research and questions of the teachers...our 3rd grade son will not be learning his multiplication tables, my husband did not believe me. Enough said??? I hope so.

Parental Concerns from Utah:
"My daughter attends a junior high school, where the advanced, algebra II, math students were all forced to use the Interactive Mathematics Program (IMP) --yet another fuzzy, math appreciation class. Now in the past there had been an option of taking a traditional algebra II class, but not this year (2003-4). That turned out to be a big mistake! The parents caused such an uproar including threats of ending all financial donations to the school that the administration capitulated. But, due to the reluctance of the teacher to accommodate her algebra II students, now in mid school year, the principal is paying to bring down a math teacher from Mountain View High School in order to provide a rigorous, skills based algebra II class. Shockingly, my daughter informed me that when the teacher asked her two classes how many students were transferring to the new class, one-half of the hands were raised in one class and all the hands were raised in the other class! If the Alpine School District ever needed or ever wanted an indication of what parents/students think about their fuzzy math experiment, clearly this one example should literally speak (or yell out) volumes!! Our school board is asleep at the wheel."Len -parent, Orem, UT. (

A Stafford County School parent from Virginia shared this thought :
"I agree with you both. I have a fourth grader who is having the same issues concerning the method being in everyday math. He had to complete a simple division problem and it took him ten minutes to work the problem out the way he was instructed to at school. I asked my son did he understand how to work the problem out the old fashioned way like I was taught in school. I got a dazed look from him. So it took me two days to really get him to understand how to work both multiplication and division problems the everyday math way and the real world way. This is really getting ridiculous, and then these schools try to hold these kids back when to don't score perfect on the SOL test."
A frustrated Stafford parent had this to say in response to the so-called studies conducted by the Everyday Math publishers and cited by the Stafford School District showing the supposed benefits of Everyday Math:
"Well, I could care less about 'reviews' and 'stats.' All I know is my 4th grader has been performing miserably in math since 3d grade. She began Everyday Math in 2nd grade and did OK; however, 3rd grade was terrible and 4th grade is even worse. My once happy little girl now dreads school everyday, BECAUSE OF MATH. I'm convinced that the creators of this so-called math either never had children or their kids were grown. Because anyone with young kids knows you don't give them too many choices, it only frustrates and confuses them; welcome to Everyday Math! . . . The first part [of the school Parent Night] was the Math Specialist singing the praises of Everyday Math and quoting the stats that it is a widely-used, tested method. When I noted that she didn't have the stats listed for how many counties/states had dropped the curriculum because it was so terrible, she was floored. She didn't know how to respond. Every parent in that room, with the exception of one, agreed with me." (quotes taken from

The following material found at "Everyday Math in Stafford County Schools".. at
By Ian Shapira
Greg Barlow, an Air Force officer in the defense secretary's office at the Pentagon, was helping his 8-year-old son, Christian, one recent night with a vexing problem: What is 674 plus 249?
Strange (Fuzzy) Math
Reviewing the fifth grade Everyday Math book reveals some ridiculous methods used in that book for teaching math. There is a 23 page chapter that teaches nothing but how to operate a calculator. Why would a fifth grade math book devote that much space giving instructions on how to operate a calculator? The reason is that the odd algorithmic methods taught in the book for solving math problems are so confusing and unworkable that the students must resort to using a calculator in order to solve math problems.As if that is not bad enough, the book devotes a 43-page chapter to games. That's right, there is page after page of rules for math games. There is no math instruction given at all in that chapter.

The Strange Philosophy Behind Everyday Math
"In Everyday Mathematics, as students explain, compare, and contrast their own invented procedures, several common alternative methods are identified. Often these are formalizations of approaches that students have devised. The column-addition method, for example, was shown and explained to the Everyday Mathematics authors by a first grader." Andrew Isaacs, Algorithms in Everyday Math, . That admission is quite simply astounding. One of the alternative algorithms that is a standard method taught in Everyday Math was authored by a first grader!

Calculator Use Encouraged
The Everyday Math curriculum is based upon the assumption that calculators are to be used. The sections where calculators are not to be used are marked with an image of a calculator with line through it. If there is not a "do not use calculator" image, the student is given the implicit permission to use a calculator. That means that children are permitted to use calculators to solve almost two-thirds of the problems in volume 1 of the fifth grade workbook. That is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the appropriate use of technology. That is tacitly allowing a child to be lazy and to ingrain in him the habit of using a calculator as a crutch.

Mind Crippling Crutches
The preferred Everyday Math methods are crutches. The crutches are needed because the children are not taught the standard algorithms. The lack of skill in standard algorithms ends up crippling their ability to solve math problems without their crutches. The EDM crutches become cumbersome and hold children back when the they are later exposed to more advanced math problems. Their crippled minds are unable to sprint ahead in math, because they trip all over the crutches imposed upon them by EDM

From NYC
This is a great article: Take a look at her thoughts on the "New Math" and how it plagued the NYC Schools.
Fuzzy math: A nationwide epidemic
By Michelle Malkin • November 28, 2007 09:49 AM
My column this week covers the long-fought fuzzy math wars and the parental revolt against poisonous edu-fads. The Texas state school board voted before Thanksgiving to ditch the infamous “Everyday Math” textbook for third-graders. This is the faulty curriculum the NYC schools were forced to adopt despite an outcry from teachers and parents. It’s difficult to find a school district where this dumbed-down virus hasn’t infected the education bureaucracy. If you know of any, let me know. Here’s my article:
Fuzzy math: A nationwide epidemic
Do you know what math curriculum your child is being taught? Are you worried that your third-grader hasn’t learned simple multiplication yet? Have you been befuddled by educational jargon such as “
spiraling,” which is used to explain why your kid keeps bringing home the same insipid busywork of cutting, gluing and drawing? And are you alarmed by teachers who emphasize “self-confidence” over proficiency while their students fall further and further behind? Join the club.

check out the rest of it at .


K – 5 (school not identified)
Why is it that my son comes home with no idea on how to go about solving the night’s math problem? I’ve also heard the same from other parents.
Why is there not assigned intense practice of any given topic?
Parents have no way of gauging the child’s progress. We need a math glossary/ vocabulary and a set of written strategies so parents can know the students are learning…The curriculum seems very fragmented
May sound premature for a fifth grader’s parent, but as the world gets “smaller” how does TERC fit in with what other countries are using?
Some school’s tests scores seem (unexpectedly) wildly different from some others that seem on the same “level” – why?
PS 6
I complained about the math programs to my children’s teachers, principals and math staff developers. Some acknowledge the shortcomings of TERC but say their hands are tied. What you are doing isn’t working !!!
Why not give parents a choice between the progressive program and a more traditional one.
I would like to know if grant money was a major impetus behind the implementation of TERC and CMP
I would like to know if District 2 will address the fact that prominent mathematicians and scientists feel TERC and CMP are bad programs! These programs are at the very heart of the “math wars” and were removed from both California and Texas list of recommended curricula
PS 11
Can you tell me how much time on average do children require playing specifically which games before they can reasonably be expected to master the ‘facts” of multiplication? How does this compare with the time taken to gain mastery when taught by means of rote memorization?
At what stages in a child’s career is she , or he, expected to have acquired mastery of basic skills?
Are the teachers responsible for teaching basics – adding, subtracting, multiplication and division facts? Or, are we as parents supposed to provide that for our children?
I just want the teaching of algorithms to be part of the curriculum. My daughter used to say she wanted to be a mathematician when she grew up. She struggled on the NYS test because she didn’t know the standard procedures. Now she thinks she’s a failure at math. Last year, 50% of the students in the T & G program didn’t make the District 2 cut-off for the SP middle school programs. The directors of eight private schools told me kids from District 2 schools are far behind in math.
I’ve been a math room volunteer for the last eight years. Contrary to popular belief, kids enjoy working with numbers. My heart breaks for the hundreds of kids who fall farther behind each year; the kids who in the words of student teacher, “can explain anything to death, but can’t get the right answer.” For the sake of our children, please let District 2 use math curricula that teach them math.
PS 41
My daughter, a bright verbal child is completely baffled by the abstract side of TERC. She doesn’t “get it” and has had weekly private tutoring for a year. She needs rules and alternative ways to do math. She needs memorization and rote learning. How does your method address this kind of child’ needs.
My son has been seeing a tutor. He is an above average student, but it was never noticed by the school that he was not understanding the process of TERC. All children can not be expected to learn through one system. Hey, it doesn’t hurt to do some memorization and traditional methods along the way.
Many parents are upset and frustrated that TERC is the sole means of learning. It must be taught and or supplemented by other methods. In particular CALCULATION LIKE THE REST OF THE WORLD ! Take a look at national standards, private schools, other public schools ! This is a huge and troubling issue which needs immediate attention.
There seems to be enormous disparities between the math curriculum as it is delivered in different schools.
PS 124
Math is a gut – it’s kindergarten level. They do their math homework in less than 1 minute. Our teacher says the lesson plans are set by the district and she has little flexibility. Her solution was to suggest that the parents can tutor their child in math fundamental at home. Please help a poor parent understand why this policy is in place. When will out children learn the basics that they need to function in high tech world. Why is math give such a low priority?
PS 130
I have been concerned about my child’s math for some time. He seems to be involved in activities that make no sense, such as the estimation of simple addition problems. Why is he spending so much time cutting out “measurement rods” of paper?..he would loose them.. he never understood what function was served by these little pieces of paper.
Our child seems very under-challenged in math. The homework seems very simple. What can be done in 5th grade to keep them motivated and challenged.
My son’s math curriculum is very confusing. He is not learning the basics and yet he is being taught concepts which have no meaning without a sound foundation. The result is that he is confused and demoralized. We have been forced to hire a math tutor to cover just the basics, and after only a few lessons he is happy again with mat. He tackles the tutor’s assignments with an eagerness I never see for his regular school math homework. We are loosing the clarity of thought that is the hallmark of math understanding.. I need not add that our children suffer for it, not the parents and not the teachers.
Math, like music, is a process that requires repeated practice , memorization and deeper understanding. Just as it would make no sense to teach a child how to play piano by just teaching music theory, it makes no sense to teach math without utilizing some degree or repetition and practice.
TERC was not recommended by the US DOE’s “Expert Panel for Mathematics.” (Textbooks are)among those qualities that the Panel and the NCTM identify as necessary in a math curriculum: “A good mathematics textbook is almost always an essential element in implementing the curriculum.” TERC has no textbook.
The NCTM advises there should be an ongoing system of assessment, including regular written tests. AS far as I know there is no such system in TERC If a student is absent or doesn’t grasp the material, there is no way of recognizing the gaps in his/her knowledge to address them.
The methods used exclusively in TERC are so time-consuming and take so many steps…There should be a balance between the use of standard algorithms and other strategies to solutions.cerns at from the article "Math is a gut--it's kindergarten".

REVIEWS OF TERC: by Bill Quirk; Investigations in Number, Data, and Space
2008 TERC Math vs. 2008 National Math Panel Recommendations, by Bill Quirk, April, 2008. Bill Quirk reviews the most recent edition of TERC's Investigations in Number, Data, and Space in the context of the report of the National Mathematics Panel which emphasizes the critical role of the K-7 curriculum in preparing students for traditional algebra. Key points of Bill Quirk's critique (explained in more detail in the review) include the following.
TERC's nonstandard computational methods are substituted for the standard methods that children need to master to prepare for algebra.
TERC confuses children by claiming to offer several "strategies" for each operation. [...]
TERC no longer claims that students "invent" these methods. Now they are "constructed" and "named" with the assistance of the teacher. Apparently every class chooses the same names. They're really "standard" TERC 2008 names, but not standard elsewhere.
Generally speaking, the TERC computational methods are cumbersome, inefficient, and only work for carefully selected simple problems. They seriously mislead children because they attempt to avoid the concepts of carrying, borrowing, and common denominators.
Traditionally, children first experience the power of automaticity as they migrate up the elementary math learning curve. But there is no possibility for automaticity with the TERC 2008 methods. By attempting to suppress carrying, borrowing, and common denominators, TERC eliminates the keys to automaticity for basic arithmetic. Conscious thought is regularly required for both TERC method selection and TERC method execution. TERC's authors are openly proud of this. They believe that maximum conscious thought indicates maximum conceptual understanding. They fail to recognize that automaticity at lower learning levels helps to maximize the effectiveness for conscious thought at higher learning levels.

As you can deduce from just scratching the surface on a google search, we have enormous reasons to be concerned based on research and data of other districts that tried this curriculum and found it to fail miserably.
Our questions need to be answered.
1. Why did we switch our math curriculum?
2. Were our test scores bad?
3. How are we addressing the needs of students that learn differently and need supplemental help? Is this allowed?
4. How do our teachers REALLY feel about this math?
5. How do we help our kids do their homework if they don't have a book and their worksheets make NO sense to me?
6. Why will my child not be taught simple multiplication tables?

I am sure you can add to these questions. Meet me at the PTO meeting at Hawthorn Elementary School on Monday (November 3, 2008) right after school at 3:45 in the library to find out a little bit more about what this new math curriculum entails and how we help our kids. Please feel free to add your comments to this site, we look forward to hearing your opinions.