Date sent: Thu, 09 Oct 1997 19:03:23 -0400
To: joaneb001@aol.com
From: Fred Battey
Subject: Re: Action: Needs Help: Chicago Math #1
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>from: Redyarrow
>Date: Thu, 9 Oct 1997 17:13:03 EDT
>To: education-consumers@tricon.net
>Subject: Re: Action: Needs Help: Chicago Math #1
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>I was delighted to see that the Mathematically Correct web site put up my
U of
>C math analysis. Those of you have been in this group for awhile have
seen my
>U of C math articles, but I'll resend them for anyone who hasn't. I have sat
>in between 20 - 30 U of C math classes and have never yet seen one in which
>children were not unduly frustrated. Mary
>
>I am a college instructor in a special education department and also a mom of
>two children. I used them as guinea pigs this summer and we worked out of
>Saxon's MAth 87 book for an hour for five days a week. Although my children
>(a fifth grader who is a whiz at math and a 7th grader who would have been
>considered LD in math, but has caught up to his age peers) initially
protested
>and complained about doing problems they already knew how to do, they both
>ended up liking the program and thanking me profusely when they went back to
>school. My son who has always had difficulty with math was computing averages
>and problems in his head without pen and paper and amazing his friends who
>couldn't do it. When they protested at first at doing some of the work, I
>had to explain to my kids that until you have done something repeatedly, it
>will not be in your long term memory. Clearly all that repeated practice had
>led to a fluency that would not have otherwise developed.
>My children's Montessori teacher was so impressed by their work the first
week
>back in school that she agreed to continue them in the book for the first few
>months so that she could see how she liked the program. I'm lucky she’s so
>flexible. By October she liked Saxon so much that she decided to use it with
>the entire class next year. Anyway, here's three of the most concise things
>on these two math curricula that I have posted to the Internet:
>
>#1. Letter my next door neighbor ( stay at home mom with an MBA) wrote to
>the school superintendent:
>
>I live in a midwestern suburb where the school district adopted Everyday
>Math for the 1994-1995 school year in grades K-3. In 1995-1996 the
>program was adopted for 4th and 5th grades. My daughter finished third
>grade with two years in Everyday Math. I was left to wonder if she
>learned anything. The only area in which my daughter had any proficiency
>after two years was in her knowledge of the basic facts. I attribute this
>success to our efforts here at home since the basic facts are not stressed
>with the Everyday Math program.
>After spending months reading on this subject I now understand the NCTM
>standards and objectives. Perhaps for naturally talented math students
>these constructivist, spiral-designed programs work, but I have witnessed
>first hand how such programs confound and confuse average and even bright
>students. Abstract concepts and higher levels of math thinking take a
>front seat to basic skills. These basic skills then become incidental to
>the learning process. For example, in second grade kids leap from trying
>to understand the idea of frames and arrows for addition and subtraction
>to the application of this concept with three digit numbers. Children don
>t even have a chance to get comfortable with the frames and arrows
>process. Most of the children hadn t even mastered the addition and
>subtraction facts. The net result is a continuous waste of precious
>classroom time on concepts that are not mastered. Everyday Math may have
>a function as an enrichment program once students have mastered more
>elementary levels of thinking.
>One of the arguments I have heard to counter such objections is that few
>people master something on the first attempt. While this is true, few
>people master anything when the approach is haphazard. I can t think of
>any subject or area where a haphazard approach is effective. Math must be
>practiced for mastery. I certainly gave Everyday Math a fair shot with my
>daughter and in hindsight allowed too much time for some indication of
>success.
>The intention in Everyday Math is for the student to have fun, to think
>math, to discuss math etc. Well, my daughter did think about math and
>found it utterly confusing. Fun was not the experience she had. My
>daughter s thinking was so muddled by the end of that second year that she
>was unable to reason through any word problems and did not understand the
>simplest concepts outside of the basic facts. Programs such as Everyday
>Math tout that kids will find their own way. Many do not, or they find
>some erroneous method of problem solution. For instance, my daughter
>spent 3/4 of the year subtracting numbers (where regrouping was necessary)
>incorrectly. She found her own way to do it, and it was wrong. The
>journal used for in-class work never comes home so the parent has no
>indication as to whether the child understands the material. I became
>concerned when my daughter didn t have a clue about how to do anything
>despite assurances from her teacher to the contrary. Imagine my surprise
>when I inspected this journal only to find out that not one mistake was
>corrected. This journal/workbook comprised the majority of the child s
>math work. When I pursued the matter I was informed that children need to
>learn in a risk-free environment and that we adults are too hung up on
>right and wrong answers. I have yet to find one benefit for my daughter
>under such philosophical musings.
>I must say I find some of the dynamics of using these NCTM-based programs
>fascinating. Teachers scramble to supplement these new programs with
>lessons that were deliberately left out. For example, in my district some
>of the 5th grade teachers had to use the old program to teach fractions.
>In third grade a few teachers admitted that Everyday Math was weak in
>subtraction. Including a year as a pilot program, Everyday Math has been
>in place for three years. The bugs should have been discovered and worked
>out during the pilot year. Instead, many of us were left with children
>who were less than numerate. Not only do I find these programs illogical,
>I believe using them is irresponsible.
>If our goal in this country is to produce the world s top math students by
>the year 2000 we had all best prepare for a disappointment. If new math
>can t produce complete success in suburban schools with superior
>facilities and teaching environments then how can success be achieved
>nationwide? Visions are all very nice but reality hit me each night as I
>sat down to tackle a Homelink with my daughter. Reality was a very
>confused young child.
>Earlier this summer I began teaching my daughter using Saxon Math (third
>grade). The change in her has been dramatic. She now thinks in a logical
>manner, tackles word problems with ease and has a real understanding of
>the number system and number relationships. My daughter also approaches
>math with an enthusiastic attitude and loves to do her daily lessons. I
>emphatically disagree that Saxon is drill-and-kill. This is a beautifully
>designed program where learning is incremental. Success is assured. The
>program weaves review into every single lesson.
>In one of the dialogues a parent wrote that s/he wouldn t want to subject
>the child to Saxon because this parent wanted the child to love math. My
>experience is that after only three weeks using Saxon my daughter began to
>love math. She now likes to flip through her brother s middle school Saxon
>book to see what problems she can do from his lessons. I would say that
>there has been enormous growth in her confidence level. Judging from the
>number of classmates who are being tutored this summer, my daughter was
>just one of countless lost children. I believe there is a balance between
>the traditional math programs that stressed computation and the insanity
>of the NCTM-based programs. I recommend the Saxon Math system. Even my
>middle school student has benefitted from working with this program and
>math has always been a breeze for him. I will use this program with both
>children through high school. My only regret is that I did not find this
>series sooner.
>I don t have the insight of a mathematician or of the academics who
>argue about the pros and cons of types of math instruction. I am simply
>a logical person who sees serious flaws in educational programs that
>expect kids to figure out critical concepts in math and other subjects
>where constructivist theory has been applied. Remember, these same
>children must be reminded daily to brush their teeth! We expect them to
>learn crucial skills on their own? Let us all be a bit more realistic.
>Teaching is the easiest and fastest way to learn something- and the least
>frustrating. It would cost me $600 per month with a tutor to duplicate
>what I do at home with my daughter using Saxon Math. My total outlay for
>two years worth of materials came to less than $150 and the results are
>impressive. I wish everyone with the power to make decisions would put
>aside their philosophical imperatives and make decisions based on common
>sense.
>
>#2. A previous usenet piece I posted to a group:
>I initially became active in raising concerns about my local public
>schools when the district adopted the University of Chicago Everyday
>Mathematics program. When two other parents and myself met with the local
>school superintendent this spring to express our concerns, I asked him why
>the district had chosen to sink so much of our time, money and resources
>into a highly experimental math program like the U of Chicago program when
>there was no research to substantiate its effectiveness. Besides being a
>parent I am also a college instructor in a special education teacher
>training program. I had not been able to unearth one shred of evidence
>(research) to support the effectiveness of any of the new fuzzy math
>programs based on the process approach. My observation of this approach in
>classrooms has been disturbing, since much of the time only 20 - 30 % of
>the students in a class seem able to complete a day s assignment. I see
>lots of cooperative group copying. When the superintendent assured me that
>the district s decision to adopt this math curriculum was based on
>rigorous research, I asked him to send me the information.
>To my surprise, I received a snazzy packet entitled Perspectives of
>Everyday Mathematics: Student Performance Data. I quickly dismissed all
>the pages of anecdotal teachers commentary about how much they liked the
>program - which sometimes contained grammatical errors. Despite my
>background as a college instructor, former special ed school principal,
>and someone who can easily (but very nicely) intimidate your typical
>school district superintendent when the need arises, when it came time to
>look at the 5 so-called studies contained within this document, I found
>critiquing research to be a daunting, intimidating task. My first approach
>was to use the Internet and ask members of the educational groups in which
> I participate if any of them had looked at this research and done any
>analysis. Although no one responded with offers of help I received several
>requests for any related information from parents trying to stave off the
>U of C math in their district. Armed with Bonnie Grossen s article written
>for the AFT , A Teacher s Guide for Reading Research , my old statistics
>and research textbooks, a few contemporary articles on how easily poor
>research can fool the average person, and the U of C report, I went to
>work. Fortunately, a friend suggested that I contact a retired education
>professor who had written a book on research and seemed a bit bored in his
>retirement. This wonderful soul spent a few hours with the data report and
>jotted down his observations. Not only did he agree with all my commentary
>in a more organized fashion than I had been able to eke out, but he found
>all sorts of other areas of concern within the reports.
>Next time I want to take this what basis do you have for spending this
>money! approach, it will be easier and I ll have more confidence in
>looking for these same research concerns. Since our district already has
>this math albatross, I plan on lying low and simply sending this report to
>the superintendent and board members. Our local group feels that we ll be
>more effective in fighting the district when they push for adopting the U
>of C math program at the high school level if we go public with these
>findings at that time (unfortunately, that will probably be this spring).
>Analysis of studies detailed in the booklet: Perspectives of Everyday
>Mathematics : (University of Chicago Math Program) Student Performance
>Data
>STUDY #1: Northwestern University Study
> researcher: Karen Fuson
> group studied: First graders (20 classes using
>Everyday Mathematics program)
>1. This study has a serious SELECTION problem and can not be considered a
>credible research design. Because no information is given concerning the
>20 classes of first graders using Everyday Mathematics, the test score
>differences could be attributed to preexisting differences in prior math
>achievement, intelligence, motivation, social class, parental involvement,
>etc. We have no way of knowing. When the authors talk about the comparison
>classrooms using traditional math , they provide no information about
>what texts are used in these classrooms. It appears that traditional math
> means any math other than Everyday Mathematics.
>2. This study has a serious HISTORY problem. The reported differences
>could be due to the Everyday Mathematics classes spending more time on
>mathematics, having more money spent on instructional materials, having
>better trained teachers. Because these variables have not been addressed,
>we have no way of knowing.
>3. This study easily could have an INSTRUMENTATION problem. This would
>occur if some of the same test questions on the final assessment
>instrument were items where Everyday Mathematics students would be
>expected to perform better than other students, and questions not used
>were ones where we would expect other students to do better than the
>Everyday Mathematics students. Without information on the selection of the
>final assessment, we have no way of knowing. No information on the
>reliability or validity of the AERA-Stigler quest final assessment
>instrument has been given.
>4. No test of statistical significance was ever made. Any differences
>between the performance of students in these two groups could just as
>easily be a result of chance.
>STUDY #2: University of Chicago School Mathematics Project
> researcher: William Carroll
> group studied: students in fourth grade who had
>completed the K-3rd grade Everyday Mathematics program
>1. This study has a serious SELECTION problem and can not be considered a
>credible research design. Because no information is given concerning the
>20 classes of first graders using Everyday Mathematics, the test score
>differences could be attributed to preexisting differences in prior math
>achievement, intelligence, motivation, social class, parental involvement,
>etc. We have no way of knowing. In addition, there is a another SELECTION
>problem so we do not know about the 11 classes selected for the final
>performance based assessment. When the authors talk about the comparison
>classrooms using traditional math , they provide no information about
>what texts are used in these classrooms.
>2. This study easily could have an INSTRUMENTATION problem. This would
>occur if some of the same test questions on the final assessment
>instrument were items where Everyday Mathematics students would be
>expected to perform better than other students, and questions not used
>were ones where we would expect other students to do better than the
>Everyday Mathematics students. Without information on the selection of the
>final assessment, we have no way of knowing. No information on
>reliability is provided for either the 7 selected test items or the 16
>selected items.
>3. More information is needed to convince a reader that the 4 schools
>selected from the 7 would be expected to score about the same as the
>national average than the one sentence used by the author of this study to
>substantiate this claim; ..one rural, one urban, and two small-city with
>a sizable low-income population and with ethnic and racial diversity.
>Information showing how the scores of these students in other subjects
>compare with the national averages in those subject areas would provide
>some substantiation for this claim.
>4. No test of statistical significance was ever made. Any differences
>between the performance of students in these two groups could just as
>easily be a result of chance.
>STUDY #3: Silver Ridge Elementary School
> researcher: John Woodward
> group studied: third graders who had used the
>Everyday Mathematics program since kindergarten
>1. This study has more credibility than the first two studies because
>reliability is reported and statistical tests are used. In fact, this is
>the only credible research design presented. The use of a pretest-post
>test design mitigates selection problems. However, since Silver Ridge
>students started at the 71st percentile on ITBS whereas the comparison
>group started at the 58th percentile, one would expect them to show
>greater gains on the TOPS which unlike the ITBS is not grade level normed.
>It is interesting to note that on the ITBS raw scores, Silver
>Ridge had higher pre treatment means on all three subtests and therefore
>would be expected to show greater gains on all subtests. However, the
>comparison group made greater gains on two of the three subtests! What can
>this mean about the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the Everyday
>Mathematics program?
>2. This study could have a serious HISTORY problem. Perhaps while Silver
>Ridge was very concerned about math, the comparison school was more
>concerned with reading. Several teachers report spending more time on
>Everyday Mathematics. This is a serious history problem as any improvement
>in achievement could be due to increased time spent on math in the
>Everyday Mathematics classes. Because these variables have not been
>addressed, we have no way of knowing.
>3. The graph on pages 23 and 24 are meaningless, because with a
>non-random comparison group, differences in gain scores may be due to any
>number of variables.
>STUDIES #4 and #5: Barrington and Indiana Areas
> Barrington researcher: Herb Price
> Barr. group studied: third and fourth
>graders
> Indiana researcher: Walter Kealey
> Indiana group studied: second graders
>1. Because both of these small studies are one group pre treatment - post
>treatment studies, HISTORY is a problem. It could be that between the pre
>and post tests the Barrington or Indiana schools became more interested in
>math, spent more time and money on it, or provided more training to their
>teachers. The improvement in the student s achievement test scores could
>just as easily be a reflection of this. We have no way of knowing.
>End of Analysis
>
>I would advise all parents of children in the elementary level U of C
programs
>you go to school and look at their children's "journals" that accompany the
>math
>program at least once a month. The home links that they will receive at
>home will not provide enough information to tell you what a child is
>doing during the school day. Two friends of mine had to hijack the
>journals from their children's classes (the teacher wouldn't let them
>leave the room) and xerox them in an overnight copy center. When they
>looked at the journals, they realized that their third graders had been
>incorrectly adding with all carrying problems and raised this concern with
>the teacher. She replied that it was important for the children to work
>out their own strategy independently and that if they didn't get it during
>this spiral, they would during the next one. My friends who were apalled
>to realize that it was Spring and their children had learned nothing in
>math all year now have their children on a waiting list at a private
>school (All the private schools in this suburb have had long waiting lists
>for the past two years.) They dearly wish that they had made more school
>visits and studied those journals. Right now they are madly tutoring their
>children in morning in third grade math.
>
>
>EDUCATION CONSUMERS CLEARINGHOUSE
>
>