Kids across the United States and in District 81 are being used as guinea pigs in yet another math program experiment. This time it’s called “Investigations, Connected Math, and Core Plus”. The reality is, it’s all “fuzzy math”.
Statistics from the U.S. Department of Education show that success in secondary school algebra is the single greatest predictor of success in college–not just for engineering and science majors, but for majors in all fields. Unfortunately, according to several reviews of the program, “There is very little mathematical content in this course. Students leaving this course will have no background in or facility with analytic or pre-algebra skills.”
These types of curricula, pushed under several different names, such as “Everyday Math, Mathland, Number Power, Connected Math, Core-Plus, Cognitive Tutor Algebra” focus on concepts and theory, scorning textbooks, basic algorithms and pen/paper calculations as “rote drill”. A Wall Street Journal Study of the programs found them to be “horrifyingly short on basics”. Another study found the programs to have “serious shortcomings” and even note that “the program entirely omits the division of fractions.” Reformers say knowledge is changing too fast and there’s no point remembering “old facts”. They say they want to maximize “understanding” and develop “powerful thinking skills”. They appear blind to the fact that both understanding and thinking depend fundamentally on remembered content. To read more on the “anti-content” movement, please visit: http://www.wgquirk.com/content.html
Connected Math’s very own website states that the program “appears to be” at least 2 years below grade level. They also state “tudents may not do as well on standardized tests assessing computational skills as students in classes that spend time practicing these skills.” In other words, this is a great program for passing the WASL, but leaves our kids ill-prepared for the SAT and ACT tests….which are reviewed for college admissions. The site also addresses the difficultly of grading this curriculum by suggesting 3 different possibilities, one of which has the kids grade themselves. No wonder kids seem to get better grades in this program! Or, it could be that the work is incredibly mediocre. For example, here is a problem my 7th grader had recently:
There is a big special at the pizza shop! You can either buy a square pizza, 12 inches on a side, or a round pizza with a 12 inch diameter for the same price. Which is a better buy? Use words, numbers and/or pictures to explain your answer.
When my child read this aloud, my second grader promptly said, “Duh! The square still has corners, of course it’s a better deal!” Now, either my second grader is a genius, or this is a very sad curriculum for the seventh grade.
There are many resources here for you to make your own decision regarding this program. Our goal as a group is to obtain the choice of a real, fact based, traditional math program for our kids K-12. Together, we can make a difference for our kids!