Bear with me...this is a long post, but so worth the reading. Take a break and come back to it later, but you have to know what is going on in our school and know what our Department of Education in our FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN 2008 is saying about what our kids are being taught right now!
I may have been banned from my computer for the past couple of days...but, a friend handed me a bound copy of The National Mathematics Advisory Panel's report called Foundations for Success. I was thrilled. Jeff, not so much. He made me promise to take a break from the computer, but I never promised to stop reading. So... I can tell you that every bit of this report only CONFIRMED WHAT WE ALREADY KNOW!!!
What this report is...In April of 2006 the President of The United States created a National Mathematics Advisory Panel with the "responsibilities of relying upon the best available scientific evidence and recommending ways to foster greater knowledge of and improved performance in mathematics among American students.
Over a period of 20 months, the Panel received public testimony as a committee of the whole but worked largely in task groups and subcommittees dedicated to major components of the presidential charge. The Panel took consistent note of the President's emphasis on "the best available scientific evidence" and set a high bar for admitting research results into consideration.
In all, the Panel reviewed more than 16,000 research publications and policy reports and received public testimony from 110 individuals, of whom 69 appeared before the Panel on their own and 41 others invited on the basis of expertise to cover commentary from 160 organizations and individuals, and analyzed survey results from 743 active teachers of algebra.
KEEP IN MIND THE FINDINGS OF THIS REPORT CAME FROM OUR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AS A COMMISSION FROM OUR PRESIDENT! THIS REPORT IS A CURRENT REPORT THAT CAME FROM OUR DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION. ALSO, REMEMBER THIS REPORT IS BRAND NEW...JUST OUT IN 2008. SO, ANY OF YOU WHO MIGHT SAY..."YOUR ARGUMENT IS OLD"...I DON'T THINK SO.
Let me just give you a little sampling...
**And I quote..."The essence of the Panel's message is to put first things first." (Sound familiar to any of you Camdenton parents...haven't we all been saying the same thing?)
**And I quote..."Use should be made of what is clearly known from rigorous research about how children learn, especially by recognizing a) the advantages for children having a strong start; b)the mutually reinforcing benefits of conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, and automatic (i.e., quick and effortless) recall of facts. (I think that is what we call "Rote Memorization"...is it not?)
**NAEP and state assessments should be improved in quality and should carry increased emphasis on the most critical knowledge and skills leading to Algebra. (I think we would all agree on this to be true. However, what the National Panel really does drive home is just how detrimental this kind of math is to learning higher level mathematics like Algebra...please, read the link below to find out more about the HUGE concerns with reference to Algebra.)
**And I quote..."A focused, coherent progression of mathematics learning, with an emphasis on proficiency with key topics should become the norm in elementary and middle school mathematics curricula. Any approach that continually revisits topics year after year without closure is to be avoided." (This is what is called "spiraling" in our fuzzy math curricula....I will say what the Department of Education just said again...IS TO BE AVOIDED!)
They go on to define...And I quote..."By the term focused, the Panel means that curriculum must include (and engage with adequate depth) the most important topics underlying success in school algebra. By the term coherent, the Panel means that the curriculum is marked by effective, logical progressions from earlier, less sophisticated topics into later more sophisticated ones. ( I am pretty sure this means that you must learn to master how to add before you can master how to subtract. And once you master those things you move on to multiplication and master that before you head into division.)
And I quote..."By the term proficiency, the Panel means that students should understand key concepts, achieve automaticity as appropriate (e.g. with addition and related subtraction facts), develop flexible, accurate (KEY WORD FOR YOU AND ME ), and automatic execution of the standard algorithms, and use of these competencies to solve problems. (I probably don't even need to go any further...I do love the idea of automatic, which to me means the dreaded rote memorization skills AGAIN, and the idea of accuracy...need I say more?)
*PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, READ...http://www.wgquirk.com/TERC2008.html#HowTERC. For those of you who say...well my child is doing fine. Understand what you are saying exactly. You must read the article above and then decide if this is the route you want for your child to take in the ever-so-critical and most formative learning years. You must read this. My daughter and son are both doing "fine" too but, I want for them to go to college. I want for them to be able to be a nurse or a doctor, or an engineer if that is what they want to do. I do not want for their career choices to be limited because they were not offered a strong foundation in the most important formative years of their education. The National Mathematics Advisory Panel speaks directly to TERC (Investigations...which is what your 3rd-6th graders at Camdenton are doing) and speaks to how that curriculum is a detriment to higher level mathematics because it leaves those students without a foundation. In other words..."fuzzy math" does not put first things first. Please educate yourselves so that you may educate others. REMEMBER: KNOWLEDGE IS POWER! WE WILL FIGHT THIS GOOD FIGHT, SHOULDER TO SHOULDER FOR OUR CHILDREN. THEY DO NOT GET A SECOND CHANCE AT THEIR CHILDHOODS. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE. THIS NEEDS TO BE CORRECTED BEFORE ANY MORE DAMAGE IS DONE SOONER THAN LATER!
FOR YOUR VERY OWN COPY EMAIL YOUR REQUEST TO : firstname.lastname@example.org
or call TOLL FREE 1-877-433-7827 or 1-800-872-5327 (1-800-USA-LEARN)
If you call The United States Department of Education they will send you a copy, too. For FREE!!!