essay from the TERC/Investigations website

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Laurel Zydney

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May 18, 2009, 8:54:10 PM5/18/09
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I thought some of you might be interested in this essay on the Investigations website.  While ostensibly expressing sympathy for parents and children who struggle with, disagree with, or dislike this program, the author provides a good window into the often patronizing and facile defense of Investigations and implies again that those who oppose it do so because we (a) just don't get it -- solution to that being endless more math nights, or (b) are the minority who thrived in the old system and want to keep all the goodies for ourselves.  


In addition, the opening sentence exemplifies how these programs have marketed themselves as being particularly beneficial for groups that traditionally underperform in math and why often those who object to these curricula are stereotyped as old-fashioned, racist, and elitist.  

Lost in all the talk about the importance of involving and engaging parents is that there are many children whose parent, though they may care deeply about their children's education, do not have the time or inclination or skills or patience to do as much parent involvement as these programs insist are essential to children successfully learning math.  Those parents may also be unable to step in and teach their child their real math when they realize at some point that their child can't add/subtract/multiply/divide well enough fast enough to succeed in higher education or figure out quickly which box of cereal is cheaper per serving or how much a  20% tip is for that really good restaurant server.  

One concern I have particular to this district is that our generally good test scores may lead other districts to believe this is a great curriculum when in fact it is that this district has a higher-than-average proportion of parents who, because of their own academic accomplishments, have the confidence to trust their instincts and observations that their children aren't learning and also have the resources to take over and teach their children when Investigations fails or omits. 



Steve Piazza

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May 19, 2009, 5:27:55 AM5/19/09
to Parents for Quality Math Education
This essay is just shocking. The author gleefully admits that TERC's
math program takes the best math students and crushes their math
confidence:

"Tidy math fans do well in what we now call "traditional" math
programs. But as some schools adopt new programs like Investigations,
some of these students face a sudden drop in status, from one of the
best math students in the class to an average, sometimes struggling
student. Their self-esteem about their math ability plummets. It's no
wonder that some of their parents (who themselves grew up with tidy
math) put up a fuss about the new program and teaching style that is
causing their children's loss of confidence."

My research involves mathematical modeling of biological systems, and
often it gets "Messy". I have to be creative about how I solve
problems, but the methods I learned in "Tidy Math" have served me very
well as they have served scientists and engineers for many years.

Steve

On May 18, 8:54 pm, Laurel Zydney <laurelzem...@gmail.com> wrote:
> I thought some of you might be interested in this essay on the
> Investigations website.  While ostensibly expressing sympathy for parents
> and children who struggle with, disagree with, or dislike this program, the
> author provides a good window into the often patronizing and facile defense
> of Investigations and implies again that those who oppose it do so because
> we (a) just don't get it -- solution to that being endless more math nights,
> or (b) are the minority who thrived in the old system and want to keep all
> the goodies for ourselves.http://investigations.terc.edu/library/implementing/qa-1ed/tidy_math_...

Long-Qing Chen

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May 19, 2009, 7:10:19 AM5/19/09
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Wow, that's exactly what the Investigations Math to my kid at Radio
Park. I cannot agree more with the paragraph. It successfully turned
my kid into an average, indeed sometimes struggling, math student and
significantly damaged his confidence in math. We had to celebrate his
"success" if occasionally he got an "A" in math. I am indeed one of
those parents who made a big fuss about it to the school . I feel
vindicated by this paragraph as I have been telling others that the goal
of this Investigations program was to bring down the best math students
to make them average, so everybody will look the same. This will
accomplish the goal of "Leave Nobody Behind" through "Leave Everybody
Behind"..

I recommend some of you do what I did, move your kids up to higher
grades in math if you think it's the appropriate thing to do for your
kids. Here is the result for my kid for your reference: he was getting
B's in fifth grade math last year in Radio Park as a fourth grader, so I
moved him to 7th grade advanced math in Park Forest, and now he is
getting A's so far. This will significantly shorten the time of
suffering of your kids from this Investigations math. This is not going
to be easy since the school will not let you kid move up in general, but
you have to be persistent.

Long-Qing
--
Long-Qing Chen
Professor of Materials Science and Engineering
Penn State University
102 Steidle Building
University Park, PA 16802
(814) 863-8101
lq...@psu.edu
http://www.ems.psu.edu/~chen/

Wen

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May 19, 2009, 10:52:39 AM5/19/09
to Parents for Quality Math Education
I think I have two so called tidy kids in my house.

My older daughter was never placed in advanced math
under the TERC curriculum, which gave her a big blow on her
self confidence. But, she scored very high at the Thinking Test!
Now her confidence is back.

My younger one is even 'tider' than the old one.
She is so abstract in thinking. I am really worried for her.

Wen

Oak Norton

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May 20, 2009, 10:46:57 PM5/20/09
to Parents for Quality Math Education

Steve Piazza

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May 23, 2009, 7:45:43 AM5/23/09
to Parents for Quality Math Education
Oak,
Thanks - my personal favorite is this one:

http://www.weaponsofmathdestruction.com/wmd.cfm?comicID=97

Do you take suggestions from readers, or 5th graders? If so, how
about a strip based on Wen Shen's daughter's answer to her 5th grade
Investigations homework?

Q: Find something that takes about a minute to do. Describe it.
A: My math homework. It's simple.

Steve

Oak Norton

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Jun 1, 2009, 9:09:00 AM6/1/09
to Parents for Quality Math Education
Steve, sorry I've been away from the board for a bit. I've stopped
doing new comics though I still get the itch once in a while to see
more of them. :)

Oak

hec...@gmail.com

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Jun 8, 2009, 11:54:53 AM6/8/09
to Parents for Quality Math Education
Many thanks to Steve and Oak for trying to bring the dissatisfaction
many people feel about Investigations to the school board's attention!

My third son's was the "lucky" class to be chosen as the pilot class
for this debacle and my husband and I have been arguing with his
teachers and administrators ever since. Over the five years he has
been in Investigations we have watched him change from a child who
loved the challenge of adding and subtracting and playing math games,
to a boy who hates the seeming endless repetition and questionable
need for many of his math assignments. We tried to have him moved to
6th grade math this year when the PFE staff decided the 5th grade kids
didn't need to be grouped for math instruction, they'd do fine with
their home classrooms (a long story), but MJ Kitt, said he is not an
"outlier". So he has suffered through another year of boredom, silly
games and repetition with us supplementing his education at home. We
are doing what Dr. Chen (see above) recommended. Forcing the school
district to move him into 7th grade advanced math so we can get him
out of Connected Math as soon as possible.

I hope that all the bragging about Investigations and its ability to
give kids insight into math contains at least some truth. I fear that
when these kids start getting into higher math the damage done will
become evident. Of course by then it will be too late for the classes
that were the guinea pigs for touchy, feely math.

Hope the school board listens. Heidi

Jeta...@aol.com

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Jun 8, 2009, 11:11:30 PM6/8/09
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Heidi,
 
As a parent who has been very annoyed with the Frederick Co BOE for making our children guinea pigs, I can tell you personally that TERC does NOTHING except teach kids how to draw squares and color them in.
We are in the last 2 weeks of school, we had 3 weeks of division for 4th grade. This consisted of approx. 30 total questions (in 3 weeks) of 3 digit by 2 digit division, which would be fine if they understood division at all. One of the reasonings for picking TERC from our curriculum specialist is the fact that kids don't understand long division and just memorized the steps.
 
We have been after the BOE since April 2008, TERC was put in as a primary resource in Aug. 08. NOT until Oct 2008 did the BOE actually admit that this was the primary curriculum, they sold everyone on the fact that it would be a supplement. Which if TERC was just a supplement, wouldn't be so bad, still sucks, but not as bad as a primary curriculum. If kids are not supplemented with other math like Singapore or Saxon they will be behind other school districts. These kids will not be able to easily transfer to other schools and stay at the same grade level.
 
Since we have brought TERC up at just about every BOE meeting since April 2008, the BOE is finally starting to realize they made a mistake. But instead of admitting it, they keep burying themselves in the sand, and tell the public that we are giving the public misinformation. That the BOE is the know all of know alls when it comes to TERC. Yet the BOE here has not read the studies (they admitted that), they said we can't compare Frederick Co. to some of the systems on the failure list, as we were either bigger or smaller. The BOE says that TERC has worked well in Lincoln Elementary where it has been used for 5 yrs. Yet the scores for statewide testing (MSA's) have only gone up at the same rate as the rest of the county. The BOE fails to remind the public that Lincoln is a Title 1 school, and was in such need of improvement that they had a complete overhaul of administration in the 2007-08 school year, when they had the biggest jump in test scores. Lincoln is still way behind most of the other schools in the county and is the only one that is on the "watch" list for NCLB.
 
I will be happy to forward information that you all may used to help in your fight if you would like. Please just let me know.
 
Megan Vogel
Frederick, MD
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