Vol. 3. No.12
May 24, 1999

Texas School Districts Reject “Fuzzy Math” Textbooks -- Major Defeat for Statewide Systemic Initiative

According to an analysis of recent math textbook selections, Texas school districts have overwhelmingly rejected the latest fad in math instruction. Sometimes called “fuzzy math,” “whole math,” and “new new math,” textbooks based on this pedagogical approach received only 4% of the textbook orders for second grade math, 2% for fifth grade math, and 5.6% for seventh grade math. Ironically, those promoting this approach refer to it as “standards-based math.”

This rejection is particularly significant given the fact that this instructional approach was heavily promoted throughout the state by the Texas Statewide Systemic Initiative (SSI), with funding from the National Science Foundation, operated by the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin -- both publicly funded by tax dollars. “We are happy to see this educational fad bite the Texas dust. Fuzzy math has been shown to hurt children academically, especially disadvantaged and minority students. Thanks to discerning textbook committees in our school districts, parents can breathe a sigh of relief,” commented J. C. Bowman, TPPF Director of Research.

Parents should watch for signs that their children are enrolled in “standards-based” math programs when students: Direct their own learning; work in groups to teach one another; construct their own math language, facts, and computations; are not taught or required to memorize facts or formulas; are taught to use calculators as the first and primary form of computation; and, are taught that deriving correct solutions lacks importance.

TPPF, along with two other organizations Mathematically Correct and Education Connection of Texas released an analysis earlier this year to provide parents and school officials the information needed to make informed selections of elementary and middle school math textbooks. The analysis was sent to all school districts and local school board members throughout Texas and encouraged use of a “classical” instructional approach characterized by curricula that is taught directly, systematically, and incrementally in small structured and guided steps that progress from basic to more complex learning; instruction focused on specific academic content (not process or outcomes); repetition, practice, and memorization used to derive automaticity; and students receive immediate feedback and correction.

The “fuzzy math” textbooks that were unsuccessfully promoted by the Statewide Systemic Initiative and Charles A. Dana Center were: (second grade books) Everyday Mathematics published by Everyday Learning Corporation; and Investigations in Number, Data and Space published by Addison Wesley Longman; (fifth grade books) Everyday Mathematics; and Investigations in Number, Data and Space; (seventh grade books) Math Thematics published by McDougal Littell; and Connected Mathematics published by Addison Wesley Longman.

The entire math textbook analysis can be viewed and downloaded from the worldwide web at http://www.mathematicallycorrect.com/books.htm. The 21-page report on instructional methodologies can be viewed and downloaded from the Texas Public Policy Foundation website located at http://www.tppf.org. All textbooks ordered by local school districts can be examined at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/emat/ORDSUM_MLC.RTF.

Textbook order information for specific school districts can be obtained by calling J.C. Bowman at the Texas Public Policy Foundation at (210) 614-0080.

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Texas Public Policy Foundation
P.O. Box 40519 • San Antonio, TX 78229
Phone: (210) 614-0080     Fax: (210) 614-2649

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