Does your child have issues with Everyday Math? This video I believe makes it very clear this is a sub-par curriculum.
Second grade math for my oldest child, Cassie, would have gone a lot smoother if only she had asked a neighbor for help instead of me.
Our school district, Oswego 308, adopted the controversial Everyday Mathematics program developed by the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project. The program is controversial because it is so very different from how most of us learned math, which relied a lot on rote memorization and recitation.
In traditional math, a math topic such as addition is introduced by a classroom teacher. Teacher explains the topic and then drills, drills, drills it into the students until they are able to fire back at teacher with a rapid response: 2 + 2 = 4! Flash cards are put away after students memorize all of their math facts. Teacher begins teaching the next math topic.
Everyday Math introduces and teaches mathematical topics as a part of a spiraling curriculum. Topics are introduced, and students are given homework, called Home Links, using real-life practical applications. Mastery is not required because all topics will continually reappear throughout the years and will be presented in many different ways with increasing levels of complexity.
As Cassie was my first child to enter elementary school, I was eager to learn everything. In Kindergarten and during the beginning half of first grade, I was able to keep up with the Everyday Math lessons. I felt fairly confident in my abilities to help her if she needed it.
By the end of first grade, I started getting lost.
Thankfully, Cassie didn’t need my help. I would read over her homework, praise her and recycle the papers.
And then one fateful afternoon, Cassie came to me and slapped down the Home Link from Hell, second grade Home Link 5-6.
Cassie had completed a household scavenger hunt to find examples of three-dimensional objects. She had found examples for prisms, pyramids, cylinders and spheres.
However after searching our house, she still couldn’t find an example of a cone. She was frustrated and desperate to play her video games!
With tears in her eyes, she begged me to help.
I started offering Cassie all sorts of objects which in my loose definition of a cone would work. However, Cassie has always been a strict-definition-kinda-gal and tearfully rejected each one.
Cassie’s tears started flowing down her sweet, still baby-soft pink cheeks. And that is my only excuse for what I did next. My sweet second grade daughter was in tears over a homework assignment and I was desperate!
And at that moment, the heavens opened and a brilliant light shone down upon a … martini glass!
With trembling hands, I offered it to Cassie as surely the wise men did so very long ago. My eyes beseeched her to accept my humble offering.
Would the top bowl of a martini glass qualify?
Cassie examined the martini glass carefully for a few moments. I held my breath, anxiously awaiting her reply.
She nodded her head, swiped her cheeks, and wrote “glass” on her paper.
I, a stickler for detail, had her erase it and write “top of martini glass” on her paper instead.
The next morning, Cassie left for school, and I thought that I was a hero. I thought that her teacher would celebrate our creativity, our brilliance. I was wrong.
Cassie came home from school that day and handed me her math paper. Written in red permanent marker: This answer is not appropriate for school!
I decided that I should probably scrap my cute Valentine’s Day party idea: plastic martini glasses filled with Hawaiian Punch.
Cassie never asked me for help with her math homework again.
Has your child brought home any homework assignments from Hell? What about tedious projects, which end up being more stress for the parent than the child? Please share your stories!
Here’s a more personal follow-up to the topic of educational malpractice. A couple of months ago, I wrote about working with a group of French African immigrant children whose school-based math education consists of Everyday Math. I noted how they weren’t able to subtract 91 from 1000 because they didn’t know how to borrow (regroup) across multiple digits.
As I noted then,
You can’t blame the mathematical deficiencies of these 4th and 5th graders on their parents: both the private school and the after school program select for parents who care about education. You can’t blame it on the kids: my kids, who clearly wanted to learn, had been admitted [to our after school program] in part based on their behavior.
You also can’t blame it on language problems; these kids are fluent in English. In fact, there’s really only one thing outside the Everyday Math curriculum that one can possibly point a finger to, and that is that these immigrant parents (many of them don’t speak English) don’t realize what many native-born parents already know: namely, that they can’t count on the schools to fully educate their children.
So these kids are a case study in what happens when you leave math instruction entirely up to Everyday Math practitioners. And the answers to this question are slowly coming in.
For several of the 5th graders I work with, it turns out that not only do they not know how to borrow across multiple digits; they also don’t know their basic addition and subtraction “facts.” In other words, they don’t automatically know that, say 5 plus 7 is 12, or that 15 – 8 is 7; instead they count on their fingers.
This got me thinking about addition and subtraction “facts.” Back in my day, there was no issue of kids learning these facts as such. Yes, we memorized our multiplication tables. But we never set about deliberately memorizing that 5 plus 7 is 12. Why? Because the frequency of the much-maligned “rote” calculations we did ensured that we, in today’s lingo, constructed this knowledge on our own.
Back in my day, a typical third grade arithmetic sheet looked something like this:
And a typical fourth grade arithmetic sheet looked something like this:
But in Reform Math programs like Everyday Math, such pages filled with calculations are only occasional, and each problem involves a much shorter series of calculations. Here’s a set from 4th grade Everyday Math:
Each multi-digit addition problem amounts to a series of simple addition problems. For example, adding two two-digit numbers involves adding at least two pairs of numbers; three if one is regrouping. Adding three three-digit numbers can involve 8 iterations of simple addition. Some of the problems in the second traditional math sheet involve as many as 17 iterations of simple addition.
In the traditional 4th grade math scenario, we may have had 25 problems per day like those in the first two sheets above, 5 days a week. With Everyday Math, you might get, at best, 25 problems like those in the second two sheets above per week.
Putting it all together, the resulting difference in the amount of practice with basic addition “facts” is quite large. 5 (days) times 25 (problems) times (say, as an average of iterations of simple addition) 10 for the traditional math curriculum versus 1 (day) times 25 (problems) times (average iterations) 3 for the Everyday Math curriculum. Assuming I’m not screwing up myarithmetic, that’s 1,250 vs. 75 basic addition calculations per week. No wonder so many of those who are educated exclusively through Everyday Math don’t know their “addition facts” by grade 5!
Ah, but surely their “conceptual understanding” is deeper. Note the calls for “ballpark estimate” at the bottom of each Everyday Math problem, where traditional math simply has you calculate. Stay tuned: in my next post on this topic, I’ll discuss the state of conceptual understanding in my Everyday Math mal-educated 5th graders.
It appears that the marketing people for Everyday Math are earning their salaries. There’s a new promo on the web for EM (I’ve reproduced it below) The main site is located here. There are also YouTube videos containing testimonials, etc. Of interest is the one here. It features people from Woodbridge NJ (other districts are there also). It’s all sound bites. “Allows higher level dialogue in solving problems” etc.
In the EM promo (which I’ve included below) it looks like they’ve picked up on the criticisms of EM and are now using it in their advertising. To wit: “There’s nothing fuzzy about it”.
Excuse me? Nothing fuzzy aboout it? Well, maybe not as fuzzy as TERC, but still… Yes, a casual reading might reveal what look like good problems, but you wouldn’t know from looking at the workbook that they don’t teach the standard algorithms, that a particular page of problems may represent the last time such types of problems are seen that year, that there are far less computational problems in EM than in the highly disdained “traditional” textbooks, and the computational problems that are there do not cover a lot of 2-digit or 3-digit multiplication. Not to mention that calculators are allowed fairly often.
The sentence that really got to me was “Everyday Mathematics is better than traditional, textbook-centered programs that produced generations of students who hated math.” While some of the traditional text books of the 50′s and 60′s had their bad points, I think this statement is over-generalized and extremely misleading. The textbook-centered programs of yore also produced generations of students who liked math, were good at it, and understood the underlying concepts. And ironically, many if not all of the students who hated math as a result of those “traditional textbook-centered programs” are probably more proficient in the basic skills than those who have received the EM treatment without benefit of Kumon, or outside help.
Of course, EM’s solutioon to the “textbook-centered” approach is to do away with a textbook. Students only have workbooks. (Oh, and a reference manual. Which does have a good section on how to use a calculator). The EM promoters’ disdain for such “scripted” approaches is pure hypocrisy, since EM does have a particular script. Students and parents can’t see it, but it’s contained in the teacher’s manual and provides the outline of daily lessons. Not very good, mind you, but still, there is a plan there which parents and students do not get the benefit of seeing–except in the “family letters” (some in very poor Spanish as has been discussed here) that students bring home with them and which explain what they will be learning in a particular unit. Every unit is a hodge podge of topics, nested inside some main topic. There is no concentrated focus on any one topic that allows any kind of mastery learning. But the EM promoters have an answer for that one as well: I
“Content is taught in a repeated fashion, beginning with concrete experiences to which students can relate. Research shows that students learn best when new topics are presented at a brisk pace, with multiple exposures over time, and with frequent opportunities for review and practice. The sequence of instruction in the Everyday Mathematics curriculum has been carefully mapped out to optimize these conditions for learning and retaining knowledge.”
They didn’t bother to talk about what research it was that showed this, but there is another module on their “research base”. Much of their research was conducted by William Carroll, who has been on the EM/U of Chicago payroll for some time. Seems to me the National Math Panel’s final report seemed to address EM’s approach head on when they said:
“A focused, coherent progression of mathematics learning, with an emphasis on proficiency with key topics, should become the norm in elementary and middle school mathematics curricula. Any approach that continually revisits topics year after year without closure is to be avoided.”
Anyway, here’s the promo. Read and weep.
How Everyday Mathematics Offers a Better Approach to Mathematics Mastery
There’s nothing fuzzy about it. Everyday Mathematics brings more clarity and rigor to math instruction, so students understand and appreciate the role of mathematics in daily life. Everyday Mathematics, a comprehensive Pre-K-6 mathematics curriculum, not only embraces traditional goals of math education, but also sets out to accomplish two ambitious goals for the 21st century:
• To substantially raise expectations regarding the amount and range of math that students
• To support teachers and students with the materials necessary to enable students to meet
these higher expectations.
To provide more rigorous, balanced instruction, Everyday Mathematics:
• Emphasizes conceptual understanding while building mastery of basic skills.
• Explores a broad mathematics spectrum, not just basic arithmetic.
• Is based on how students learn and what they’re interested in while preparing them for their
future mathematical needs.
Changing the Way We Teach Math
The accelerating demand for competence and problem-solving agility in mathematics requires
improved methods for teaching math in the classroom. Teachers are no longer preparing students for a lifetime of pencil-and-paper calculations, but for future careers that demand a true understanding of how mathematics works at much higher levels.
Everyday Mathematics is better than traditional, textbook-centered programs that produced generations of students who hated math. It is consistent with the ways students actually learn math – building understanding over time – first through informal exposure, then through more formal and directed instruction.
Content is taught in a repeated fashion, beginning with concrete experiences to which students can relate. Research shows that students learn best when new topics are presented at a brisk ace, with multiple exposures over time, and with frequent opportunities for review and practice. The sequence of instruction in the Everyday Mathematics curriculum has been carefully mapped out to optimize these conditions for learning and retaining knowledge.
Brighton Area Schools is purchasing its first new math curriculum since 1998 and some district parents are not pleased with its choice in programs.
Last month, board members unanimously adopted Everyday Math as its new program for students in kindergarten through sixth grades.
Janice Karlovich Foster, a district parent who addressed board members during a meeting Monday night, said the new program focuses too heavily on teaching tidbits and then revisiting them on a later date – something called spiraling – and not on mastering mathematics.
Originally, the Fosters were asked by district administration to be part of the committee to review new math curriculum, and recently discovered that it had already by chosen and approved by board members without any input from them.
“My main focus tonight was that the community really should have been involved in this decision, not to argue the pros and cons of the program,” Janice Foster said. “Such a decision should not have been rushed through at the end of the school year with little to no community input.”
The Fosters have two children in Brighton schools and said they have spent the past two years teaching their children math after school in an effort to fill in gaps left by the curriculum.
“Our kids’ experiences in the mathematics program has not been particularly good,” Foster’s husband, Kenneth Foster said. “Some kids like mine are going to survive because I’m going to teach them, my wife is going to teach them, we’ll correct these gaps in their education that they’re having. But I’m worried about all the other kids in the neighborhood – and it’s a large fraction of them.”
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Laura Surrey said
the top math acheiving districts in the state use Everyday Math curriculum.
Surrey said back in March when she first spoke with the Fosters, the district’s plan was to wait a year before implementing a new math curriculum because of the common core standards set to be released next year.
Surrey said the current curriculum is fragmented with incomplete sets and nobody has materials that are needed – so they couldn’t wait any longer.
“That’s because for years, because of our budget problems, they kept cutting, slashing the curriculum budget and taking the money from there to fund other things,” she said.
“Looking at test scores like Saline (who uses Everyday Math), we are better than them when it comes to reading and here we are, I don’t know, 20 to 30 percentage points lower in math,” she said. “There’s no reason except we need to have a coherent curriculum and solid curriculum materials – it has to start with something.”
Surrey also said she updated the community about the mathematics curriculum search through Superintendent Greg Gray’s Friday Letters home to district parents.
The new curriculum will be in district buildings by Aug. 13, Surrey said.
“Truthfully, it’s just a beginning – it’s just materials,” Surrey said. “Saline, Ann Arbor – all these districts that use Everyday Math – they make it their own. They say they’re not going to use this component because it doesn’t support the K-12 initiative in our district, and we’ll be doing the very same thing. Everyday Math is not our curriculum, what we do with it will be our curriculum.”
After a year-long study performed by the K-12 Mathematics Committee, comprised of K-12 mathematics instructional leaders and administrators, Math in Focus — Singapore Math by Marshall Cavendish has been chosen for Wilton schools’ new math program.
It will replace Everyday Mathematics, the program developed by the University of Chicago School of Mathematics, which Wilton schools have been using for “at least 20 years,” according to Assistant Superintendent Tim Canty, who presented the program proposal to the Board of Education.
“The team was ready for a philosophical shift in the way we approach mathematics,” said Mr. Canty.
Mr. Canty said Singapore Math, based on the national mathematics curriculum of Singapore, is “more mastery-basted, topic-driven, and foundational.”
The board approved the proposal on June 14 before a room of applauding teachers.
By Brenda Lonston (A concerned parent)
Everyday Mathematics certainly has some positive components. It allows for differentiated learning to meet the needs of a diverse student body – critical to any modern pedagogical approach. In addition, the emphasis on independent and critical thinking is important in helping children face unfamiliar problems and situations with confidence – or at least it should be. But confidence and accuracy are two different things; it matters little if a child thinks she knows how to solve a problem when the end result is, quite simply, wrong – or took her twice as long to arrive to as her peer.
Despite its good intentions, the accuracy and reliability of the mathematical methods used in this program are questionable, as is the evidence supporting overall improvement of students in math achievement. The organization What Works Clearinghouse found that Everyday Math’s efficacy was only “potentially positive,” with no clear or definitive indicators that students taught math using this method did much better than the mean (students learning math under any other pedagogical approach).
When one examines the program itself, the reasons for this weak performance become clear. Students are taught many ways to approach a problem, known as algorithms. They may use whichever method they prefer, though the program identifies “focus” algorithms – those which are emphasized by the Everyday Mathematics curriculum. There are several problems with this pedagogy.
First, is that none of the focus or alternative methods of solving problems have been shown to result in greater accuracy. Addition algorithms like the “partial sums” method, or the “column addition” methods (both of which work left to right) require a great deal of mental math, and are just as complex – if not more so – than the traditional method (known as the “fast method”, which is not even introduced until FIFTH grade). Common sense dictates that the more mental math involved, the greater the opportunities for error.
Then there are methods like the famous “lattice method” for completing multiplication problems – where two numbers are broken down into their places (hundreds, tens, ones) and set opposite each other in a grid format. The students then multiply each factor and then add the results. It is a method – like many of those which characterize Everyday Math – which creates many unnecessary steps to arrive at a correct answer. Conceptually, it is accurate – but in practice, it is unwieldy and tedious.
Or what about the “partial quotients” method for solving division problems? In it, students pre-select “easy” multiples of the divisor and gradually subtract those from the number being divided until no more can be subtracted. The student keeps track of how many times he used the easy divisor to give the whole number, and what is left over is the remainder. A number like 5036 divided by 30 might have a “270” subtracted from it (30×9) or even a “2700” (30×9 plus a 0); these numbers are subtracted until no more is left. For example:
30)5036 -2700 90 (30x90) 2336 -2100 70 (30x70) 236 - 210 7 (30x7) 26 167
The answer is 167, remainder 26.
The same problem, done traditionally, would be completed in ONE column – the one used to do the operations. The “partial quotients method” requires two columns, both with their own set of operations – each of which introduces the opportunity for arithmetical error!
In addition, it is unreasonable to assume that students who can barely stay in their seats for 40 minutes at a time will have the mental discipline to master not one, but two or more mathematical methods, each of which require extensive mental arithmetic, with any degree of proficiency. Setting up numbers in grids and attempting to align them properly is another issue – some children have serious issues with penmanship and staying in the lines to begin with – let alone deciphering problems in several stages, with multiple columns and different operations guiding each. Why make solving math problems any more difficult, laborious, or error-prone that it needs to be?
It is true that these methods are meant to emphasize some of the guiding principles behind the way numbers work, how they can be broken down, and how they relate to each other. Certainly such practice is appropriate for students who have already mastered basic operations – and by basic, we mean to say the essential, time-tested, accurate, “traditional” algorithms which require a minimum of mental math, and the most efficient set-up on paper possible. But for most students, most teachers, and most grade levels – Everyday Math should be discarded.
Here’s the success story of Jill Gladstone, a parent in Bridgewater, NJ whose children were being instructed using Everyday Math — the constructivist ’step-sister’ to Investigations….
After 12 years of the Everyday Math program being implemented in my school district, I am happy to say that we abandoned it and adopted HSP Math 2009 (Harcourt School Publishing) last year. It wasn’t easy getting Everyday Math removed. In 2006, I started a Yahoo Group for parents in my town who were very concerned about the program and wanted to discuss the issue with others. I rallied parents to attend Board of Education (BOE) meetings with me and speak at the podium. I connected myself with national math content experts- mathematicians – who educated me on the flaws of the program. I then decided to run for a seat on the BOE myself. One of my main campaign platforms was to remove Everyday Math from the district because I saw how this “one size fits all” reform math program was not meeting the needs of so many students for a variety of reasons. After I won a seat on the school board, we had a few changes in the top administration. The new folks eventually were willing to set up committees to evaluate our K-6 math program. (It had never been formally reviewed or evaluated in all that time!) The new administration did a fabulous job.
This whole process took a lot of pressure and patience.
Finally last year, the K-6 Math Evaluation Committee (consisting of 35 K-12 teachers and 4 administrators) and the 9-member school board were unanimous in their desire to replace Everyday Math with a balanced, more traditional math textbook, HSP Math 2009 (Harcourt). HSP Math started in September 2009 and has been very well-received. I still get e-mails from parents thanking me for my efforts and telling me how thrilled they are with the new program. It is a wonderful program. It teaches to mastery without “spiraling” and has plenty of practice opportunities to make kids feel confident.
I hear that Houghton Mifflin Math is good balanced program. Stay away from Connected Math 2 at the Middle School as it is worse than TERC and Everyday Math in the lower grades. Good Middle School textbooks are Holt-McDougal Mathematics or Glencoe Math Course 1, 2, and 3. Their Pre-Algebra and Algebra books, as well as Prentice-Hall books, are fine. I’d suggest the same publishers for High School. Do not have your district ever use the “Discovering” series (like Discovering Algebra or Discovering Geometry).
Good luck and don’t give up!
Bridgewater-Raritan District BOE Votes 9-0 to Drop Everyday Math and Adopt Harcourt HSP Math 2009: www.mycentraljersey.com/article/20090227/NEWS/902270359
Complete Bridgewater-Raritan Math Program Evaluation:
Bridgewater-Raritan Math Program Evaluation PowerPoint:
Contact these folks from Virginia fighting TERC: http://pwceducationreform.wordpress.com/
U. S. Coalition for World Class Math: www.usworldclassmath.org
Contact the PA State Chapter: http://paworldclassmath.webs.com/
The state of Texas has dropped a math curriculum that is mandated for use in New York City schools, saying it was leaving public school graduates unprepared for college.
The curriculum, called Everyday Mathematics, became the standard for elementary students in New York City when Mayor Bloomberg took control of the public schools in 2003.
About three million students across the country now use the program, including students in 28 Texas school districts, and industry estimates show it holds the greatest market share of any lower-grade math textbook, nearly 20%. But Texas officials said districts from Dallas to El Paso will likely be forced to drop it altogether after the Lone Star State’s Board of Education voted to stop financing the third-grade textbook, which failed to teach students even basic multiplication tables, a majority of members charged.
One board member, Terri Leo, who is also a Texas public school teacher, called the textbook “the very worst book that we had submitted.” This year, the board of education received 163 textbooks for consideration.
The board chairman, Don McLeroy, said the vote was part of a larger effort to prepare more Texas students for college. “We’re paying millions of dollars to the publishing industry,” Mr. McLeroy said. “We might as well get something back.”
The vote leaves some doors open for Everyday Math. As long as Texas districts use their own money, and none from the state, they can still purchase it, and they can still use state funds to purchase first, second, fourth, and fifth-grade Everyday Math textbooks. But state officials, including several who support Everyday Math, said they expect districts will drop it, since most use one program for all of the elementary grades and all prefer to finance their books using state funds.
A board member who voted against the ban, Mavis Knight, described what will happen as a “domino effect” across the state.
Some advocates said the effect could be even greater, reshuffling a standstill in a national fight known as the math wars. While supporters of Everyday Math applaud it and other so-called progressive programs for their emphasis on problem-solving and group work, opponents charge that the best way to teach math is still through rote memorization of facts, calling anything else “fuzzy math.” A recent entry by the federal Department of Education into the debate cleared up little, judging Everyday Math more effective than some more traditional programs but calling its impact still just “potentially” positive.
Since Texas is one of the country’s largest buyers of educational textbooks, the advocates said its decision could force textbook publishers and school districts to rethink their position in the battle.
“What happens in Texas has ramifications for the whole country,” a longtime Texas activist for traditional curricula, Donna Garner, said. “It’s a huge movement.”
Texas officials said Everyday Math’s publisher, McGraw Hill, began scrambling to keep its curriculum on the state’s okay list the minute board members indicated they might vote it off. After concerns were first raised at a long meeting last Thursday, McGraw Hill officials arrived the next morning at 9 a.m. sharp with seven full sets of additions to the text, including new worksheets and teacher guides, state board members who attended the meeting said.
“I think they were in a state of shock, like those of us who were on the non-prevailing side,” Ms. Knight said. “I think they were truly mystified.”
A spokeswoman for McGraw Hill, Mary Skafidas, called Everyday Math a “proven rigorous program,” and pointed out that the publishing company also offers many alternative curricula districts could choose to buy instead.
New York City’s Education Department also stood by the program. A spokeswoman, Maibe Gonzalez Fuentes, said the improvements for fourth-graders shown on a national math test last week testify to its success. “We continue to study developments in math education, both in this country and internationally, and we are convinced we are on the right track,” she said.
But advocates who have ridiculed Everyday Math since the schools chancellor, Joel Klein, created a task force that eventually picked it said they hoped New York City could take a lesson from Texas.
“Our educators are making choices which ultimately have the consequence of barring a huge number of kids from high-paying jobs,” a computer science professor at New York University, Alan Siegel, said. “It’s that simple, and I applaud Texas for standing up to this.”
Mr. Siegel, who has advised the city schools and a federal group on math, is one of several New York professors who have opposed Everyday Math, calling it poor preparation for the kinds of college courses they teach.
Not all New York City elementary schools follow the curriculum; some — including many schools in District 2 — have obtained waivers exempting them from the mandate to use it.
Two studies have shown declining ACT and SAT scores of students who learned math through the new math program (see Figure 1) [13,14]. It is my firm and fervent opinion that the strong and superior academic standard the Oak Ridge School system has achieved and take pride in will be irrevocably eroded and gone, and the unique position Oak Ridge enjoys in being among the top 100 schools nationwide, and the top two in the Southeast region will be toppled if the new approach is adopted.
The majority of parents in America who were educated in public schools were taught Math with a Mastery method. Basically, this method of teaching follows a pattern of having students master one Math concept to the point that they master it, before moving on to the next concept. Many people who were taught Math in this way would agree that the Mastery method is clear and to the point, makes sense, and is effective.
A large number of schools in the country today, however, teach Math to students with a very different approach. This method is often referred to as the Spiral method by teachers. A common Spiral math curriculum can be found in the Everyday Math series that is widely used in public schools throughout the country. Many who do not like the method and corresponding curriculum also refer to it all as fuzzy math.
The Spiral method, rather than teaching concepts in depth to the point of mastery, simply touches on a wide number of math concepts. When students are confused and fail to master a concept, proponents of the method often reassure parents that it’s okay that their child does not currently understand, explaining that they will pick it up at some point when the subject is touched upon again on the Spiral. For many students, and parents alike, this theory is very difficult to accept. Parents want to see their children grasping math material, and children want to feel successful.
The Spiral method has many parents actually buying mastery math curriculums on their own, such as Saxon Math, in order to work through the material with their children after school. Many find it frustrating and ridiculous that they have to go to such lengths just to be sure that their children master basic mathematical concepts. Additionally, this adds a lot of extra work for a child who likely already has homework to do.
Some teachers who are required by their district to use the Everyday Math curriculum, recognize the problems with it, and are trying to help their students by also teaching math by a mastery method. There appears to be something very wrong with education when the teachers must sneak in order to teach their students effectively.
As for the mastery method of teaching mathematics, it seems to be disappearing from more and more districts every year. Despite the fact that mastery curriculums such as Singapore Math have been used with much success as pilot programs in districts around the country (Singapore students score highest in Math in the world; by the 8th grade they are typically 3 to 4 grade levels ahead of American students), these districts dropped out of the program to revert to using curriculums like Everyday Math.
Before parents of struggling Math students throw in the towel and just decide that their child cannot be successful in Math, they should investigate to find out which type of curriculum their child’s school uses. The problem very well may not be the child, it may just be an ambiguous and ineffective curriculum.
The Willoughby-Eastlake School Board continues to take heat for its current math curriculum which utilizes the program known as Everyday Math.
At Monday’s school board meeting, Tim O’Keeffe, a parent of three students in the district and a strong opponent of the program, brought up concerns that Everyday Math and similar math programs might not fall in line with new state standards.
“What I want the board to understand is that Everyday Math, and all constructivist math, by their very nature, are at odds with the new common core state standards,” O’Keeffe said.
According to the standards’ website, the initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by a pair of nonprofit organizations SEmD the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
In contrast to Everyday Math, which emphasizes abstract concepts like rounding and estimating, the common core state standards insist on a “clear, understandable and consistent” approach to teaching and learning math, according to the website.
everyday math is horrible
everyday math parent letters
everyday math issues
This seems to be a very long and convoluted way to find the answer using Everyday Math what are your thoughts?
Karen S. Jones-Budd – Author
Math counts in my family. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and did graduate work in structural engineering, both at the University of Pittsburgh. My children were introduced to Everyday Math at a private Episcopal school in Maryland.
At first blush my instincts told me that Everyday Math was not rigorous enough; but didn’t the educators know more about mathematics education than I? What a mistake!
My children’s days were to be filled with counting on a scroll to 1,000,000 and playing games. Addition and subtraction facts were not emphasized properly. Fractions in the fifth grade were glossed over. Such red flags should have warned me as those skills are all very critical to success in algebra and advanced mathematics. My oldest was in the Everyday Math program five years, and I spent summers doing remedial work and trying to make the basics of math more automatic so that she would be successful with algebra. Luckily I pulled my youngest out of the school when she was in the second grade–before she could suffer real damage.
The skills of my youngest are far more automatic, and her experience with algebra will be far more successful. She will not labor over the elements of algebra that should be reflexive in nature. My youngest will be able to concentrate on the new complex concepts of algebra that must be learned. She will not be struggling over manipulation of fractions and integers as my older daughter did. Fractions, integer manipulation and long division must be mastered by the time you study algebra. Some children will appear to do reasonably well with the program either because they have mothers like me or because their parents send them to Kumon or Score! But what about the children without those resources? They will be most severely affected, although the children doing remedial work at Kumon and Score! would much rather be enjoying their brief childhoods.
Some elementary teachers and principals do not deeply understand the ramification of a math education that is poor in content and mastery. They love the warm, discovery-oriented nature of Everyday Math. They also see opportunities for teachers and children to be “creative” in a group setting. Little do they know that some of the children will not be able to pass by the gatekeeper that is algebra. Or, if these students make it through a less rigorous algebra, then college math stops them dead in their tracks. If you cannot do calculus, you can rule out math, engineering, pre-med, physics, chemistry, computer science, you name it, as majors. Should we penalize students whose only sin was being stuck with a weak math curriculum?
Knowing that the experiences of my children were simply anecdotal evidence, I began investigating other implementations of Everyday Math. My suspicions were backed by scores that are readily available on the Internet. The Edison schools use Everyday Math, and the one Edison school in the San Francisco area ranked dead last within the San Francisco United School District on the state’s annual testing. (The Edisons just mentioned are for-profit schools not to be confused with the public high school in Fairfax County.) Math scores never exceeded an average National Percentile Rank of 38 at any grade level at the Edison school in San Francisco. Meanwhile the city of Reading, Massachusetts, has seen drops in standardized testing since the implementation of Everyday Math. Scores in math plummeted more than 12 percentage points in four short years.
You may have heard Everyday Math representatives boasting of some success–for example, in the upscale community of Naperville, Illinois, whose remarkable affluence says it all. Parents of means have chosen to supplement their child’s education when it involves Everyday Math. In Washington, D.C., the exclusive Potomac School uses Everyday Math. It is my understanding the Kumon Centers are flush with “Potomac School” sweatshirts. Pittsburgh also provided grist for a brag, but the reporting of scores and the selection of the groups tracked are so contrived that they have very little significance. Results include a minute subset of fourth graders and statistics from only those classrooms with “strong implementers.” In addition, Pittsburgh uses the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA), whose standards are weak and called into question by most scholarly reviews of state standards.
Simply put, strong evidence does not exist to support Everyday Math, and I’m not surprised. Here are some of its more common failings:
● Reliance on calculators: In Everyday Math, calculators are put into the hands of kindergartners and become crutches for the students. Calculators should not be introduced until the seventh or eighth grade. The operation of a calculator can be learned in a few minutes, but can cause a lifetime of need for mathematical remediation if it is introduced too early and becomes a crutch. The mere introduction of calculators is a major risk.
● Watered-down long division: Standard long division, a bedrock concept for success in algebra and beyond, is barely taught. “The mathematical payoff is not worth the cost, particularly because quotients can be found quickly and accurately with a calculator,” instructs an Everyday Math teacher’s manual. That’s a pretty cavalier statement to make considering that the standard long division algorithm is immeasurably critical to polynomial division in algebra. Polynomial division is necessary in calculus for factoring. It is used in power series expansion, Laplace Transforms and optimization problems.
● Problems in such areas as multiplication and fractions: Multiplication with pencil and paper is de-emphasized. The ancient Egyptian algorithm for multiplication is held in as high an esteem as the standard algorithm. Fractions are not respected, so children are ill-prepared for advanced math. Decimal division and multiplication are almost non-existent.
With the above complications, how much solace will one find in the excuse that Everyday Math can help our children “feel” better about mathematics? Thank goodness I caught on in time. The story of my oldest daughter, now a high school junior, has a happy ending. She will be taking Advanced Placement Calculus next year and, at this stage in her life, plans on becoming an engineer. Imagine if I had lacked the math background necessary to recognize the gaping holes in her education–and to understand that children must learn the basics before they move on.
In conclusion, it seems that Everyday Math would be a good fit only for children who by age five know they will not need to know advanced math to succeed at their jobs as adults. Would you want your daughter or son to be written off so early?
Everyday Mathematics requires massive fixes at the most basic level. The program does not teach the standard procedures at all for subtraction and division, and offers a hopelessly confusing potpourri of methods for all the four elementary operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division). The program has pedagogical features (notably, rapidly jumping around over different topics without staying focused long enough for pupils to achieve mastery) that appear to make it all but unworkable as intended. It introduces calculators as early as kindergarten, and this will contribute to the failure of many pupils to acquire proper facility with numbers and operations.