Thursday, February 26, 2009

"Success Stories"?????

I got an email this morning from a friend in Virginia, Greg Barlow. He sent me a divine piece of research that beautifully illustrates the FACT that Investigations is not a proven method by which to teach children. A group of parents there took it upon themselves to find out if the "success stories" touted by Pearson (the publisher of Investigations) were REALLY TRUE. They conducted their own study on a national level. They picked up their phones and got on their computers and contacted these "success stories" to find out what was really going on. Their results were eerily familiar to those results that a few of us moms in Camdenton experienced when our administration handed out a list of schools in Missouri using Investigations. We all found the same results. I think you will find those results very alarming, as well!

The following report in entirety can be read here:
Independent_Survey_-_Math_Investigations_Success_Stories.pdf It is a MUST READ!!!

Excerpts taken from the above mentioned article:

Independent Research & Analysis
A Survey of School Districts Profiled in
Pearson Scott Foresman Publishers’
January 2007 Publication,
"Investigations in Number, Data, and Space: Evidence for Success"i
(Data as of February 24, 2009)

Survey Purpose and Methodology

The purpose of this survey was to examine claims of success regarding districts and schools utilizing Pearson Publishers’ elementary mathematics curriculum, Investigations in Number, Data, and Space as profiled in the publisher’s marketing / validation study.

In considering the adoption of the Investigations elementary math curriculum, school districts regularly cite the Pearson document as "research" to support school system selection of the materials. Each of the school and district "data cases" presented in the Pearson document are said to represent, "Cross sectional information about the schools and districts included."ii The Pearson document further asserts, "The data, taken as a whole, document the success of this Scott Foresman instructional material across a wide range of situations, including differing student body compositions (socioeconomic and ethnic), and urban, suburban and rural locales," and finally, "In designing this study, the aim was to provide the kind of information that schools and districts already use to support their curriculum decisions."iii

Survey Purpose and Methodology (Continued)

Though lauded as "success stories" in the January 2007 Pearson publication, many of the included schools, districts, and in fact state Departments of Education have rejected Investigations outright and have long since ceased using the curricula and materials. Many others are in the process of removing the curricula and materials from primary/basal use in mathematics instruction in their districts. The following is a compilation of findings from contact made with those schools, districts, and state level agencies associated with the schools and districts cited as Math Investigations success stories in the January 2007 edition of the Pearson Scott Foresman "Evidence for Success" publication.

The information presented puts the Pearson Scott Foresman "Success Stories" in a larger achievement-oriented perspective in light of the high numbers of districts no longer using or in the process of abandoning Investigations in Number, Data, and Space in districts and states across the country. In the spirit of a "Caveat Emptor" (buyer beware) concern for districts and schools considering adoption of this mathematics curriculum, the authors of this survey remain optimistic that these such agencies will have the foresight to look beyond the glossy publisher sales brochures when considering the mathematical content that should be provided in instructional programs to the children in public school systems .

Part I – Summary of Findings

A majority of districts reporting have either discontinued using the Investigations curriculum and materials or are in the process of dropping the program as of February, 2009.

• 62 of 70 "Evidence for Success" school districts responded to the survey
• 36 of these districts have discontinued use or are
in the process of discontinuing the use of Investigations (58% of districts responding; 51% of districts overall)
So...more than half of all of the "success stories" have dropped Investigations.
• 17 of these districts currently using Investigations are Title I (schools/districts and/or receiving National Science Foundation funding and/or other grants for continued implementation of the curricula
(27% of districts responding; 24% of districts overall). So another 1/4 of those "success stories are getting funding or incentives in the form of grants to use this inquiry based form of teaching.
• 8 of the districts using Investigations are using supplemental material to support gaps in the mathematical content of the program. (7 of these districts are comprised of 7 elementary schools or less; the 8th has only 15 elementary schools) appears that most schools who still do use Investigations believe it MUST be supplemented to fill in all of those GAPS!

• Only two district responding were using Investigations without supplementation (3.2% of districts responding; 2.9% of districts overall)
(I would LOVE to see their test scores...true test scores).
• To date (24 Feb 2009) 8 districts had yet to respond; 6 of these are Title I districts).

Part II –District Math Curriculum Director/Coordinator Remarks
Testimony of School District Math Curriculum Directors and Coordinators on Math Investigations
February, 2009
"Success Stories"?

Coventry Local School District, OH – Curriculum Director
"I find it somewhat funny that we dropped Investigations around the 2002-2003 school year. It was not a successful program in our school district, and we decided to return to a more traditional program k-12. So, I am not sure why Pearson has us listed as a success story. We saw the dramatic increase in state test scores AFTER we dropped the program and went with a more traditional approach........ (This is classic. On the list that was given to us by our administration we even found there were schools on the list that had never heard of Investigations.)

..........In my opinion, the program was created by professors and researchers who do not deal with the day to day situation of elementary classrooms. It could be a nice supplemental to a traditional math program but it is nothing more than that."
(I love this one...we got this answer more than once in Missouri.)

Lebanon School District, OH - Director of Instruction and Tech.

"We do not use MI as our core textbook because it had many gaps in the alignment to our state standards ......
........We discovered the gaps in MI after the fact when implemented. Scores increased in grades k-4 but then dropped in grades 5-7 .
[Email dated 2/5/09]

Black River Falls School District, WI – Curriculum Coordinator

The activities were too "open-ended" for some of our teachers. We decided to switch in order to get more consistent use by all teachers. There seems to be a very positive attitude toward the change."
[Email dated 2/6/09]

Naperville School District, IL – Gifted Coordinator & Math Project Manager

"We supplemented with Investigations only since 2000. In fact, we never purchased the student work books. Rather, we created our own math curriculum - binders for our 14 elementary school math teachers... We are now reviewing two new text books and will not be considering Investigations for ’09-‘10.
[Telephone conversation of 2/6/09]

La Crosse School District, WI– Director of Math/Curriculum

"No improvement at all with the math scores since 2002. We dropped MI and are now using a different text book. We are very happy to date."
[Telephone conversation of 2/6/09]

Columbia School District, MO – Curriculum Director
"We will not be using MI as of the Fall of ’09. MI is not among the materials we are considering......

......"we will return to a traditional program"

.......Our scores at the elementary level have fallen the past few years.
[Email dated 2/5/09]

Framingham School District, MA – Director of Curriculum & Staff Development:

"We have just completed a math pilot review and are dropping MI. We found, through the current pilot programs that Investigations did not meet current MA curriculum standards. For example, Kindergarten time and money. We also found that professional development was based on how to use the text. Our new text book focuses on Mathematics… more important to us."
[Email dated 2/6/09]

Three Rivers School District, OH – Curriculum Administrator

Last year the math adoption team chose a replacement for MI.

......One of the major concerns of our staff members was that students were lagging behind in basic computational skills. We believe our new text book will help us close that gap.
[Email dated 2/5/09]

Chariho School District, RI – Curriculum Director

"We no longer use MI. ....

.....The curriculum should align with the standards without relying on supplementation. A balanced approach to teaching math is an undertaking I’d not dare implement with MI....

.....I would never recommend a text book that doesn’t align with our state standards.
[Telephone conversation of 2/4/09]

Gadsden School District, NM – Director for Instructional Support

We received a grant to provide monies to sustain professional development to support teachers to implement reformed pedagogy and the materials that best exemplify that pedagogy is MI.
[Email dated 2/5/09]

Please look at all of Greg's research!!! It is so interesting. I think it validates the truth that so many of us already know. It would appear that the research used to support the implementation of Investigations is VERY flawed...not just in Missouri, but all over the United States.

Our district is trying to make the argument that schools that have not liked Investigations was because they were using the OLD version. They say that we are using version 2 which is soooo much better. No one can answer why they believe that to be true. I would love to see the research within our own state that supports that notion, but when asked at the last school board meeting where it has been used and who believes it to be better, it was said that our district is one of the first to go to Version 2. Do you feel like our kids are research? Some of us sure do! If the success stories provided by the publisher have been so consistently weak...does it now make sense why we are demanding answers and why those answers are nowhere to be found?

So, draw your own conclusions from the data taken from cities all over the country. Do we want to continue in a program that is consistently being dropped over and over and over again? Do we want to wake up in 4 or 5 years and realize that we should have done something differently? Our kids cannot lose these their most formative learning years to this garbage. If all of Pearson's "success stories" are dropping it left and right...why should we stick around and try it out? Remember...these are Pearson's SUCCESS STORIES! If this is success in their opinion, then what does failure look you find that thought scary? You should.

i, "Evidence of Success with Investigations in Other School Districts." Mathematics Online, Prince William County Schools. February 2009. February 6, 2009;


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Very Important Message....

As I have said many times, this debate is about math. There are many things in life far more important. My mother-in-law forwarded these reminders to me to make life the best it can be. I loved this and thought I would share.

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. Love your parents because they will be gone before you know it.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry

13. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie.

Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: In five years, will this matter?

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42. The best is yet to come.

43.. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

With reference to #26...this disaster of math and the lack of content it is teaching our children really WILL matter in 5 years. That being said one last reminder: Some things in life ARE worth fighting for. Fighting for our children and the best quality of education that can be offered so we are not picking up the pieces in 5 years like Eldon now is...IS WORTH IT! Keep fighting the good fight parents. UNITED WE STAND. VOTE IN APRIL!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Questions Answered?

There will be a monthly school board meeting held tonight at 5:30 in the administration building in Camdenton. Many of us are anxious to get the answers to the questions we have been asking for months now. We handed the school board this list of questions and we have been told more than once we will get answers. We expect those should come tonight. We have been waiting for a month now for the answers to questions that should have been answered very quickly, assuming that our district did their homework before engaging our children in this program. Some of us find it troubling that the questions appear to be so difficult to answer. Understand....we have had questions since our first board meeting in November with not any answers offered....ever. Many of us have attended every single board meeting....and NOT ONE time have we ever seen the school board have any true or meaningful dialogue with reference to this math. That is a huge concern. Understand ....that the Sunshine Law is very specific in the fact that if the school board is not discussing it in the public school board meetings, then by law they cannot have private conversations as a group about this subject. Understand....that after three prior board meetings where math WAS on the agenda and we were promised January the subject of math was not even put on the agenda. We are hoping that we will hear those answers that we are looking for tonight. I will keep you posted.

Questions For The School Board
Questions For The School BoardMath Curriculum For Hawthorn December 12, 2009

1. On what basis did we choose this math curriculum? Aside from information provided by the publisher, what independent research showed merit in using this curriculum?(Refer to earlier post done in the last week "Their Silence Is Broken".)

2. Name 5 schools in the state of Missouri who are currently using this as their core without any supplementation?(Remember the school has provided over 30 schools who we have called to find that none of them were using Investigations as their core without supplementation...and only 3 of them were using it as their core, but each of those schools said that they were REQUIRED to use supplements.)

3. Did anyone consider that this was a reading rich math curriculum? In light of the fact that our children in Hawthorn are not proficient readers overall, how did this oversight happen? Was that taken into consideration? How are we addressing the fact that those math problems are written by adults for adults? How are we ensuring that each child is reading and understanding each problem inside and outside of the classroom?

4. Now that we have been given the "green light" to supplement, what are we going to use to ensure that there is uniformity in the supplementation? Are the teachers going to be provided with materials to assist them in supplementation?(Osage Beach and Hurricane Deck have been allowed to use supplements ALL year long...we have not. Our teachers have been strong armed all year and NOT allowed to use supplements until right before Christmas. However, there was no direction on what those would be. It just came out publicly for the fist time that the other two schools in our district ARE using something that we have not been allowed to use.)

......Now more than ever the parents of Hawthorn students want to know WHY our kids are NOT using what Osage Beach has been using all year. We are not using the same material, and we want to know why. If they are not using Investigations then why do the kids in Hawthorn have to? Since the last board meeting is has been made pretty clear by parents talking to other parents at OBE that we are NOT doing even close to the same thing.

5. Why are we not using our own Osage Beach Elementary School as a guide to improve our elementary schools throughout the district? Why are Hurricane Deck and Osage Beach allowed to use supplements that were not offered in Hawthorn? Why is there no uniformity? (Few schools in the state do as well in testing as Osage Beach Elementary. It does not take a rocket scientist to see that. Why are we not doing what they are doing?)

6. Why was I, as a parent, not informed when my child was being experimented on with Investigations when it was piloted on her as a third grader? By the school's own admission on their website: "Without question, these programs do represent a completely new method of learning mathematics, which is foreign to parents and teachers alike and this creates discomfort."(Why was there not full disclosure to each parent of children in the three third grade classes that used this "whole hog" without supplements last year? Should there not be full disclosure for every parent when using a very controversial program that is considered "under review" by the What Works Clearinghouse? For most of us a nod of "under review" is not enough to use it on our kids in light of all of the overwhelming data to prove what a failure it has been and remains to be all over the United States.)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

All Missourians Must Contact State Officials NOW!

A new comment was sent this morning. It needs our attention and requires that we use our voices at the state level to not only help our children, but all children in the state of Missouri. We all want what is best for our children, but if you know this is wrong, then it would be just as wrong to keep your voices to yourself and not allow your state officials to hear from you. Ambivalence will have a price. I promise you. Find your voice and use it. Teachers, I have heard from SOOOO many of you in private, here is your opportunity to use your voices to help our children right now. Read the comment below and link to the information on how to contact our state officials.

concerned has left a new comment on your post "Great Editorial Done By Our Local Newspaper....":

My thoughts and prayers are definitely with the students, parents, teachers and school board members. As Missouri residents, we all have a responsibility to contact our elected and appointed officials and express our concern for the children.

If you click on "concerned" and go to the Math Education blog , you will find contact information for your senators, representatives and the state board of education.

Our weak K-12 math standards are still awaiting state board approval. Now is the time to let you voice be heard.Districts across the state will continue to adopt mediocre programs until our standards are improved.

For more information see You may also wish to review the released Algebra I End of Course exam posted on DESEs website. About 13 out of 35 questions are "authentic" algebra as described in the National Mathematics Advisory Panel's report.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Great Editorial Done By Our Local Newspaper....

This is a great editorial piece done by our local free newspaper The Camden County Reporter. I appreciate their coverage of this issue. A reporter from The Camden County Reporter, Jeff Thompson, attended a recent forum to become educated on what the REAL issues were. I am so impressed with the measures he went to in order to make sure he heard from both parties and then reported a fair and balanced story.

Taken from :

MIP (Math In Peril)

Studies have shown that the United States is behind many countries in math and science.

Over the years public schools have been “dumbing down” each successive generation which just makes the problem worse.

Curriculums are being used that are actually hurting more than helping.

Now the Camdenton School District is jumping on board with the mathematical farce called “Math Investigations Program”.

The school district should do research before forcing a program on kids that will actually keep them from learning math.

In an online forum at The Online Teacher Resource ( a 22 year veteran teacher has been using the MIP program for four years – and it is doing more harm than good, according to her.

“First, the kids do not learn their basic facts with this program. I know I'm a veteran and have been teaching for 22 years, but I don't care who you are, you can't do math until you know those facts. So here I have a program that is very time-consuming in the classroom, and I feel the need to take extra time to teach the basic facts.”

Math was easy for me in school and one of the things that made it easy was actually being taught how to solve the math problem.

If the teacher would have asked me to “Write a story problem to go with this problem: 352 (divided by) 168 = ?”.

What? How about teaching the child HOW to solve the problem? Does the kid even know how to do division?

Here is another part of an actual worksheet found at called “Candy Math”:

1. Estimate how many candies are in the bag.
2. Open your bag and count the candies. How many candies are in the bag?
3. How far off was your guess?
4. Group your candies into sets by color. Write the total for each color:

And then you come to number six.

6. Write a candy math word problem.

First of all you have the expense of buying bags of candy for grade school kids and then when you give grade school kids candy there won’t be any left to count.

You teach children how to do the math problem first and then you can investigate deeper.

And the school district’s solution if parents have a problem with the MIP program: make sure parent-help materials are sent home, monthly “Math Nights” to help parents with the MIP process.

So in other words teach the parents how to understand the program and they can help their children.

In that case what do we pay the schools for? If the parents are supposed to help the teachers then why not just pull the kids out of school and home school them?

In this world of modern technology we think we know more than those who lived and taught 20, 30 or 40 years ago, but in many cases we are wrong.

Want some proof? Give a grade school or even high school kid a math problem but don’t allow them to use a calculator.

Do they even know how to do it with paper and pencil?

Maybe this new program will help; maybe it will bring the Camdenton School District math scores to the highest in the country.

Then again, maybe it will prepare them for a future career where a single phrase will be their life blood:

“You want fries with that?”

Just don’t ask them to count the fries.