Transcript for June 10th meeting at FCPS

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Jun 14, 2009, 11:28:33 PM6/14/09

Testimony from 6/10 BOE meeting

Tonight I'll be talking about the elementary math curriculum resource, TERC Investigations.  I have with me tonight a letter from Shannon DeMita, K-12 Curriculum Specialist from Coventry Local School District in Akron, Ohio, which was specifically written to our Frederick County Board of Education members.  I have chosen to share this letter with the public tonight because this is a school district who has adopted TERC Investigations, tried it out, and got rid of it.
I'll be referring to some excerpts of this letter tonight:
"There is really nothing consistent about the approach behind the program.  In fact, our teachers found themselves becoming the "re-inventors of math."  They spent a tremendous amount of time developing their own systems and connections for how to approach different  math problems-to the point where everyone was doing something different, even for a simple addition problem."  (This sounds like a familiar complaint from parents here in Frederick).
"The most common complaints from the teachers included: the lack of assessment pieces, the vagueness of what was actually being taught, no book, no direct instruction, difficulty telling what the kids actually knew and parental complaints.  Parents were totally lost with this program.  It was found to be even harder for families to help support their children at home; parents could not follow the homework."  Again, this sounds familiar.
"The Coventry students began falling farther and farther behind with their basic math competencies skills.  This became very apparent when they reached the MIDDLE SCHOOL LEVEL and as scores began DECLINING on state and local assessments.  It wasn't until we did away with Math Investigations that we began seeing drastic overall improvements."
My response to the teachers who come out to BoE meetings cheering each other on and cheering on TERC is, you do NOT speak for all teachers, and, what is most frightening is, you don't even see the BIG PICTURE.  Teachers, I don't find the fact that you enjoy teaching TERC to mean that TERC is going to prepare my child for a future in math.  And THAT is the big picture.  The big picture is NOT how well they do on MSA, or even the grade they get in math while in your class.  A good quality math curriculum and a well-trained teacher will teach a deep understanding of the how's and why's of math, as well as promote mastery, efficiency and accuracy.
There are teachers out there who are discouraging and even reprimanding our children for solving a problem using the standard, traditional methods that mom and dad are teaching them at home.  This should not and will not be tolerated by parents.  Do not discount the methods our children are using to solve problems simply because they do not involve drawing pictures.
To teachers, administrators and this school board:  I have no faith in TERC/I have no faith in your attempts to change the way it is implemented in hopes of finding greater success.  As long as TERC is taking up valuable instruction time, other, more successful instruction is being sacrificed.  Turn to a curriculum that does not use our kids as guinea pigs while teachers and administrators "work out the kinks" of a new resource fad.  Our kids are losing year after year of learning crucial foundations of elementary math while you figure out how to make this failing curriculum work.
Thank you.

Sue Middleton


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