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Does it matter what mathematics curriculum your kids are using at school, as long as they are getting good grades in math? Catherine and I both started tutoring our kids, supplementing their math homework, and looking into mathematics education, because our kids weren't doing well in their regular math classes. Had they gotten good grades all along, we might just be rolling along without asking any questions. But my son was doing poorly in Everyday Math, a new-new-math curriculum, after having been very successful in Saxon Math, a traditional curriculum which emphasizes the incremental acquisition of new skills, including mastery of all the classic computations. It was clear that it was the new curriculum that had derailed him. But was that just my son, whose special needs make him a special case? Proponents of Everyday Math claim that it integrates a child's mathematics knowledge, and makes it more useful to him, if the kids spend time working with math in the context of discovering and solving real-world problems; gathering data, measuring things, and so forth, at the expense of computation (if necessary). If so, then after (perhaps) a few years of struggle, we ought to see improvement in kids' understanding of math at the level of applications. In other words, kids raised on real-world data and applications ought to at least be better at word problems. That's what makes this chart so powerful. The chart shows scores on a subtest of math problem solving of the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS), a nationally-normed standardized test. The scores measure the same group of kids from Anne Arundel County's 14 lowest-performing schools in 2nd grade, and again in 4th grade. The second graders had been working with either Everyday Math or Mathland, a similar 'discovery-based' curriculum (see the blue bars in the chart). When they took the test in 4th grade, they had been working with the Saxon curriculum for a year (see the white bars). The kicker is that this subtest measures performance on word problems. This is the supposed weakness in traditional math programs that Everyday Math's approach is intended to remedy. Check out this link to see how the news went over in Anne Arundel.
Curricular Game Playing
Curricular Game Playing, part 2
number bonds vs. 4-fact families
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wordproblems conceptualthinking criticalthinking -- CatherineJohnson - 23 Jun 2006