K-12 Math Education: A University View Professor Clifford Mass Department of Atmospheric Sciences University of Washington Bellevue Math Program.
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K-12 Math Education: A University View Professor Clifford Mass Department of Atmospheric Sciences University of Washington Bellevue Math Program
Bottom Line Students are coming to the State’s colleges and universities without adequate math skills and knowledge. This situation has worsened over the past 10 years. Part of the problem has been the transition to reform or discovery math in K-12.
Not my opinion only… The decline in math skills is universally noted by math and science faculty. Two years ago, nearly 300 UW faculty members in the sciences and technical fields signed a petition stating this fact. Most are “dumbing” down the math level of introductory classes. Even majors are having problems.
What about Bellevue In the same assessment exam the average score for Bellevue students, students from a rich district with good demographics, was 59% Virtually the same as the rest!
Why the decline? Poor state math standards –Some improvements made recently at the behest of the state legislature (F to B-) Poor curriculum and textbooks –Dominance of “discovery” and “reform” textbooks that lack essential materials and follow an approach that has no scientific basis. –Heavy use of calculators, lack of direct instruction, lots of group and discovery projects. Lack of math knowledge of many teachers, particularly in elementary school.
Discovering Math Has Major Weeknesses “ these books have far too much verbiage for students to read, and too little in the way of clearly stated mathematical principles. Definitions, computational algorithms, and formulas seem to be stated vaguely when they are stated at all” UW Professor of Mathematics, Jack Lee
Discovering Math was pronounced “mathematically unsound” by the Washington State Board of Education. Here is what their consultant mathematicians had to say: “Discovering was the weakest, with all three areas considered inadequate.” “One way Discovering Algebra and Discovering Advanced Algebra compromise mathematics is by leaving important mathematics undefined and assumed.” “The use of technology in Discovering Algebra in lieu of algebraic approaches contributes to the lack of opportunity to develop algebraic skills”
An Essential Problem Many districts seem unwilling to let objective information and true math experts provide critical guidance. Case in point, Seattle, where Discovering Math was chosen even AFTER it was found unsound in ALL reviewed areas by mathematicians hired by the State Board of Education.