To: The Loudoun Board of Ed and All VA Boards of Ed
LET OUR VOICES BE HEARD!
During the past decade, traditional math programs all across the country have been under attack. Non-traditional programs have emerged which displace the existing and effective elementary school math curricula. They abandon the foundations of mathematics and instead rely upon the use of a calculator.
One of the most radical of these reform math programs is \"Investigations in Number, Data a Space\" developed by the Technical Education Research Center (TERC Investigations). The TERC Investigations program does not teach long division, multiplication tables or many other commonly accepted methods of arriving at an answer in a systematic fashion. As a result, students using TERC Investigations typically face significant difficulties with timed exams. Instead, TERC Investigations utilizes approximation and educated guessing to merely bring the student close to the correct answer. (Calculators do the actual \"number crunchin\").
Some school districts in the state of VA have started using this method, even after failing results in other states! Why
Parents, teachers, and administrators need to unite. We need to be heard! Stop using the TERC Investigations curriculum. The results can be horrifying.
Dr. Wilfred Schmid at Harvard said of the TERC program (Investigations Math):
\"A TERC teacher doesn\'t explain, and a TERC teacher doesn\'t teach! I don\'t want to be misunderstood: group learning and discovery learning are parts of the tool chest of every accomplished teacher, but it is folly to turn these techniques into an ideology. If we mathematicians had to re-discover mathematics on our own, we would not get very far! And indeed, TERC does not get very far. By the end of fifth grade, TERC students have fallen roughly two years behind where they should be.\"
Schmid, Wilfried. \"Remarks on Investigations in Number, Data and Space (TERC).\" opening remarks delivered at the NYC HOLD Math Forum. Are our school\'s math programs adequate Experimental mathematics programs and their consequences. New York University Law School, NYC, June 6, 2001.http://www.nychold.com/forum01-schmid.html
This fact is being held out in the numerous emails I\'ve received from parents that have taken their children out of public school and put them into charter or private schools. Their children are being held back 1-2 years in math to play catch up due to the lack of actual teaching in the classroom.
A FEW FACTS ABOUT INVESTIGATIONS MATH:
1) Investigations Math removes teaching the times tables to children and all memorization of math facts. (link)
2) There is no valid math study ever performed showing the effectiveness of Investigations Math. (link to article 1 & article 2)
3) California tried a program nearly identical to Investigations Math in the 90\'s and forced enrollment in college freshmen remedial math classes more than doubled over a seven-year period. (link)
4) \"Children tend not to learn what they are not taught.\" Dr. Ralph Raimi (article comparing TERC to Singapore Math) TERC doesn\'t teach.
5) Study performed where students graduating from a Core-Plus math program in Michigan (same teaching style as Investigations and Connected Math programs in Alpine School District) doubled the remedial math rate at MSU (link)
6) Hundreds of leading university math professors and Nobel Laureates condemn Investigations Math (link 1)
7) TERC recommends a text for teachers called \"Beyond Arithmetic\". In this book it says traditional elementary math must be discarded because: (link)
- Was \"developed to meet the needs of the 19th century.\" BA, Page 2
- Requires that students \"memorize many facts, procedures, definitions, and formulas.\" BA, Page 2
-\"Focuses on learning a particular set of procedures for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of whole numbers, fractions, and decimals.\" BA, Page 2
- Results in \"overpracticed students.\" BA, Page 3
- Ignores the fact that \"today\'s students have an important tool available to them: the calculator.\" BA, Page 77
The above facts are borne out by numerous comments made by parents in our area. Comment Page 1, Page 2
Dr. E.D. Hirsch, a brilliant educator and best selling author on the subject of education has written THE book on math curriculum. His book, \"The Schools We Need and Why We Don\'t Have Them\" is a landmark work taking every major educational study into account and listing the findings of each one. When viewed as a whole, Dr. Hirsch says, \"experience has shown that \'discovery learning\' is the least effective method in the teacher\'s repertory.\" (page 246). Discovery learning is the same thing as Investigations Math where the students \"discover\" their own solutions to problems. Opposite this line of thinking is where teachers actually teach students. Dr. Hirsch says \"Saxon math\'s approach is reasonably close to what research is telling us about how students learn--much closer, than are the progressive methods advocated by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.\" (page 131)
I am not advocating that every school in Utah switch to Saxon, though I can\'t help but believe that would be an excellent choice, but Dr. Hirsch lists three math curricula as superior to the other programs based on the holistic approach they bring where teachers instruct by steps building on prior concepts AND utilize a small portion of the time in discovery learning. As Dr. Schmid said, it\'s part of every effective teacher\'s tool chest, but we\'re making the hammer out to be the ONLY tool in the chest. Try cutting a tree down with a hammer next time!
In the Alpine School District, they have been patching this program every year for 4 years (it was implemented 5 years ago). They know the program has major weaknesses and are under the false impression that you can turn a 40 hp vehicle into a hot rod if you just put enough other corvette body parts on the vehicle. The engine IS the problem. We would be far better off replacing the core engine and THEN patching anything we felt was still an issue. Even the district curriculum specialist has said it\'s not a matter of \"if\" we\'ll change the program but \"when.\" Please help make that NOW. Sign our Investigations Math petition and help us restore a quality education to Utah children. Even if you don\'t live in the Alpine School District, this fight is yours at the state level because the state board of education is peddling this program to other districts such as Jordan and Davis right now.
Where have you ever seen such a math program drive parents by the hundreds and thousands into charter schools over this issue. It\'s happening. Thousands of parents are up in arms over this program. Teachers have been fired for refusing to teach the program and those that have bucked the system and are teaching traditional math are winding up with oversized classes because parents request them because they don\'t want a sub-standard education for their kids.
This statement from a national board member pushing Investigations Math should convince most people with some degree of common sense that this program has problems:
\"It\'s time to recognize that, for many students, real mathematical power, on the one hand, and facility with multidigit, pencil-and-paper computational algorithms, on the other, are mutually exclusive. In fact, it\'s time to acknowledge that continuing to teach these skills to our students is not only unnecessary, but counterproductive and downright dangerous.\" Steven Leinwand (article)
Despite the administrations insistence on maintaining the use of TERC Investigations, no valid math study to date has ever proven the effectiveness of the program. In fact, the studies that have been carried out were funded by the same organizations that developed TERC Investigations and had a heavy stake in the programs effectiveness. Hundreds of leading university math professors and Nobel Laureates, who have no financial ties to TERC Investigations, condemn this math program.
It is time for teachers and parents in Virginia to show the Plainview-Old Bethpage community that they are not alone in their fight to remove reformistsâ
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