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Investigations Math facts – Juicy :)

As I mentioned the other day, my hometown in State College, PA adopted Investigations and is looking to continue with the 2nd edition.  I’ve been impressed with the efforts of the parents fighting the battle back there and they’ve got some fantastic stuff they’ve researched.  Here’s a post about the success (or rather failure) of Investigations math. You’ve got to read the district comments in the pdf at the bottom of this post.

Sadly, even the Investigations “success stories” that have been put
forth by Pearson (who sells Investigations for TERC) are NOT truly
successful. It listed 70 sites, and someone in Virginia decided to see
how those districts are doing with Investigations.
Here’s the summary:

• 62 of 70 “Evidence for Success” school districts responded to the

• 36 of these districts have discontinued use or are in the process of
discontinuing the use of Investigations (58% of districts responding;
51% of districts overall)

• 17 of these districts currently using Investigations are Title I
(schools/districts) and/or receiving National Science Foundation
funding and/or other grants for continued implementation of the
curricula (27% of districts responding; 24% of districts overall)

• 8 of the districts using Investigations are using supplemental
material to support gaps in the mathematical content of the program.
(7 of these districts are comprised of 7 elementary schools or less;
the 8th has only 15 elementary schools)

• Only two district responding were using Investigations without
supplementation (3.2% of districts responding; 2.9% of districts

• To date (24 Feb 2009) 8 districts had yet to respond; 6 of these are
Title I districts

Full report is posted below on our PQME website, fyi. (be sure to read the comments from districts at the end of this pdf)

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To my dear, lost, Alma Mater. Please find yourself.

This past week the citizens of my hometown made the press as their fight against Investigations math got big enough to attract attention. I just posted the below message to them on their fight site and encourage you to visit their petition site.

I am so sorry you have to go through this pain. As a graduate of the class of 1987, back when teachers required you to solidly understand and perform math, I remember with great fondness doing timed tests in 3rd grade at Park Forest Elementary school to master the 12×12 tables.
Those essential skills serve all other aspects of math (and life).
Foundational mastery and rapid recall is essential to be able to dissect algebraic equations where you must see connections invisibly and instantly to solve quadratics such as what two numbers add to 19 and multiply to 84. This must be low level programmed into the subconscious for further mastery.

I left State College thinking you an anchor being next to the great engineering college of Penn State. Moving to Utah and raising a family here, I was horrified to learn that my children weren’t being taught the times tables in my district. Parents were told not to teach them for fear it would “mess them up” because of the supposed critical thinking skills Investigations math would instill.  I thought, “if only I could be back in State College where the grass is greener.”
Then my sister told me a few years ago that you had adopted Investigations math and my world came crashing down. I have survived through the years by working to eradicate this program from Utah.

I have learned that there are NO studies that support Investigations math or constructivism as a curriculum. The International TIMSS exam proves that curriculum is the #1 determining factor for successful students. Singapore is #1 for a reason. Their math program teaches children the basics of algebraic problem solving starting in 3rd grade.  By the time they are in 4th grade, they have 7 times the number of students with an advanced understanding of math as we do in the United States. They’ve cracked the code.

I truly hope you will rise up and help the board members in State College understand that their job as elected officials is to represent YOU the taxpaying public and not be apologists and protectors of the school district administration who are being paid by YOU. It’s your tax dollars and the board’s responsibility is to ensure the wisest course of action (most bang for the buck).  This is the single biggest misconception of school board members who allow themselves to be bullied by district “experts” who tell them “all the studies say this is the best way to do it” and who are they to argue with experts?
It’s time they started arguing before this Enron of educational programs destroys our technical prowess in America.

The greatest thing you could do is adopt Singapore Math (Primary Series from When Benchmark elementary in Arizona did this, within a few years they were the top scoring school in the state for math, and 94% of students reported that math was their FAVORITE subject.  Imagine that.  Kids that master math love it.  When kids struggle with weak math, they hate it.  Which program do you think will better let your children move into a bright future?

Oak Norton  (be sure to click on America’s Dire Straits page, and Singapore and Utah math)

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Charters pummeled again

The state board has told charters they must hire more employees to handle counseling issues. The comments on this article are as idiotic as this rule.  If a school deems it needs a counseling program, they’ll create one.  The thing nobody seems to be able to grasp is that if you teach children a solid curriculum they will not need as much counseling because they won’t have the disciplinary problems that come from bored kids not being taught mind expanding concepts.,5143,705302140,00.html

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Seattle Board President Finally Gets It

Three years after voting for Everyday Math, Seattle’s school board president has delivered an articulate message about how content is king.  In ASD, I’ve heard many times from a couple of great teachers how they can use Investigations math and the kids really learn.  I still have my doubts that those students are keeping up with peers that are receiving more content, but I have no doubt they are among the best students on Investigations.

What this board president has finally come to realize, is that the bottom 90% of teachers teach from the text, not from a position of math mastery.  They only teach what the book contains because they don’t know enough to cover anything else.  Solid texts contain material that those 90% of teachers need.  Of course the best result would come from solid texts and solidly content math trained teachers who know and understand the math they are teaching.

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Math Achievement Problem Solved

The United States has finally arrived at what is sure to be the “rising tide” that “lifts all boats”.  A new federal study has shown…that chewing gum raises math test scores by 3%. No word yet on how much Wrigley poured into the study to fund it, or if different flavors affected performance adversely like garlic lemon flavored sugar free-gum.

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Euclid’s geometry

I got into an interesting discussion with a teacher in Massachusetts and he sent me a link to a Euclid’s geometry book online that is pretty neat.  This is more for schools and teachers as a resource, but some of you parents or engineers may enjoy checking this out.

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“Universities will be irrelevant”

Kudos to David Wiley at BYU for his forward thinking on higher education. Check out this article in which he discusses the need for open learning.

“At its core, the open education movement and the larger open content, copyleft movement has “a fundamental belief that knowledge is a public good and should be fully shared,” explains Catherine Casserly, senior partner with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Wiley, she says, is viewed in the open education realm as an imaginative innovator who is always thinking of new applications for disseminating knowledge to the many instead of keeping it “locked up” for the benefit of the few.”,5143,705298649,00.html