|May 2007 Newsletter|
|Major publishers offered seven 6th
grade Math programs for 2007 local
Texas adoption. By law the State
Board of Education could not reject
the ones with poor teaching
methods. Busy teachers with tight
textbook selection deadlines found
our data on them helpful.
| Can meet Texas rules
yet still teach poorly
State panel findings
capture clear contrasts
|These reviews took us about 600 staff|
hours. Parents whose children are
struggling with one of the programs
we rank as defective may find our info
useful in pin-pointing why. Due to
unwise legislation, Texas lags other
states by two years on key topics in
5th-7th grade Math (see page 2).
|ALL METHODS NOT EQUAL
The Texas Education Code forbad the State Board of Education to "designate methodologies" on how best to teach. That gave low-
Texas' tolerance of poor pedagogy slows learning. Its old Essential Elements curriculum required 5th graders to multiply fractions and decimals. In California, 5th graders multiply and divide fractions and decimals now. But Texas' current standards delay all this until 7th grade, while touting higher order thinking skills.
Thus the state textbook review panel said that six of these series conform to Texas standards, that they include higher order critical thinking and problem-solving components. Still, it did not tell how well they teach them. A program's higher order thinking emphasis means nothing if its skill-building sequence is awry.
|REINVENTING THE WHEEL|
In Everyday Math and Connected Math, students laboriously concoct their own computation methods instead of just quickly learning best practices. Replacing standard algorithms with haphazard searches for personal meaning unconstitutionally establishes New Age religious behavior in public school Math instruction.
|BACKWARDS LEARNING PROCESS
In two of these texts – Everyday Math and Connected Math – the skill-building sequence is awry. They teach problem-solving before mastering computation methods, which reverses Bloom's taxonomy, like trying to "read" without first knowing the sound of each letter or combination of letters in phonetically regular words.
|TOUGHER GUIDELINES NEEDED|
Texas should require teaching methods to maximize specific learning outcomes. It should approve only those Math programs that efficiently and thoroughly develop automaticity and individual competence in computation involving addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division and in related problem-solving skills.
|CALCULATORS AND SLOTH
Math programs that stress calculator use cite the fact that calculators save time. These should give calculator-dependent students more problems to solve in all their time saved. Instead, we found that they give them fewer problems to solve (see chart on page 5). The common denominator is students thinking less.
|A MATCH-UP, IF THEY DARE|
Our analyses identify these programs' pedagogies. Texas will know which one each school district adopts because it pays publishers for them. And it will know each district's end-of-
Our comparison charts show, too, that the same 6th grade Math programs that couple calculator-
|GOOD NEWS ON SAXON MATH|
When Harcourt acquired Saxon Math recently, some feared what might happen to that fine series. Our review of the 2007 Texas edition of 6th grade Saxon Math, however, found it still an excellent program. We should know more by this December, after we review the new 3rd grade Math books submitted in Texas.