Friday, November 7, 2008

TERC Considered An Experiment By The National Research Council

I found these facts to be alarming. I believe that even one year potentially lost to a "trial and error" approach to a math curriculum can potentially put my child at an irreversible deficit in the future. I don't want to lose his/her very formative elementary school years just to learn through test scores in 5-6 years that maybe this curricula change wasn't such a good idea after all. That is what happened to our neighbors in Columbia Public Schools. I do think Investigations and Everyday Math have great supplemental potential to reach that fringe 25% who need a alternative angle to look at different math techniques and provoke a new way to look at a problem. However, with these being such crucial learning years should this be our core curriculum?

For those of you who ask..."Who is the National Research Council":
It is a branch of the National Academies, private nonprofit institutions which has as a goal to further knowledge and advise the federal government.
TERC considered an experiment by the National Research Council
We've been experimented on. The National Research Council concluded that 13 NSF reform math texts in use "essentially have been experiments" (On Evaluating Curricular Effectiveness: p.188). These NSF texts include EverydayMath and TERC Investigations in Number, Data, & Space.
The NRC evaluated a total of nineteen curricula and published a book that can be purchased on On Evaluating Curricular Effectiveness: Judging Quality Of K-12 Mathematics Evaluations, or read painfully online.In the book's conclusion the NRC explains that to first find out if a major investment in an approach is successful and worthwhile is responsible policy. The NRC further notes that the experiment was a success in that it sparked a national debate. Is your child part of this experiment? Do you mind that the measure of success of your little experiment is the sparking of a national debate? What about your kid?The conclusion states: "These 19 curricular projects essentially have been experiments. We owe them a careful reading on their effectiveness. "Demands for evaluation may be cast as a sign of failure, but we would rather stress that this examination is a sign of the success of these programs to engage a country in a scholarly debate on the question of curricular effectiveness and the essential underlying question, What is most important for our youth to learn in their studies in mathematics? "To summarily blame national decline on a set of curricula whose use has a limited market share lacks credibility. "At the same time, to find out if a major investment in an approach is successful and worthwhile is a prime example of responsible policy.In experimentation, success and worthiness are two different measures of experimental value. An experiment can fail and yet be worthy. "The experiments that probably should not be run are those in which it is either impossible to determine if the experiment has failed or it is ensured at the start, by design, that the experiment will succeed. The contribution of the committee is intended to help us ascertain these distinctive outcomes." Do you want your child to be in the experiment? If not, say so. The experiments will continue for as long as parents are willing to put up with it. View the NRC report.