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Connected Math Doesn't Add Up

June 8, 2002

The following article came out of Bristol, Pennsylvania regarding the federal Connected Math Curriculum, CMP. CMP is part of the new math curriculum that the federal government has been promoting as part of the federal education "standards." (See Mathematically Correct)

According to Elizabeth Carson from New York, who has been carefully covering this issue, parents in North Penn claim a partial victory against CMP after several meetings with their district administrators and an appeal to the local school board. North Penn parents, though encouraged by their district's responsiveness, want to be given the choice between a rigorous college preparatory middle school program and the experimental CMP.

CMP is used in middle schools in several NYC school districts, including Districts 2, 10 and 15. It is also used widely around the country and aggressively promoted as part of the new federal math standards.

Carson reports that NYC District 2 administrators and the local school board have, over the past two years, received volumes of research reporting the deficiencies in CMP and the critical flaws in the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) "standards" from which the program was developed. Administrators have received reports indicating the absence of research showing the program effective and the utter failure of the NCTM "reform" in California.

NYC District 2 officials have received many letters of concern from parents, she further states, and officials have heard testimony before the school board from parents, teachers and New York University mathematicians. The experimental District 2 math programs have been repeatedly criticised in local and national news reports.

"It is impressive how quickly this Pittsburgh school district has moved to respond to parent concerns, to begin to acknowledge the flaws in CMP," says Carson. "In NYC, education officials have dug in their heals and refused to admit the obvious, to the irreversible detriment of thousands of children."

As the article below states, "Connected Math is a research-based program developed by the National Science Foundation." In other words, the federal government and our tax dollars are forcing the reinvention of math upon our schools, all in the name of "national standards." The new federal Academy of Education Sciences that was just created this year (HR3801) oversees the National Center for Educational Research. This Center promotes and disseminates so-called "research based educational practices.

As stated in a March, 2002 alert: "Educational practices that improve academic achievement" simply means "educational practices that conform to the new federal education/ workforce system."

In other words, all of this is tied into the new federal curriculum driven by federal law.

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The Reporter
June 5, 2002

Parents: Math plan doesn't add up
Paul Ruppel

NORTH PENN SCHOOLS -Seventh-grade parents want the district to ditch a controversial "Connected Math" program.

Administrators aren't ready to subtract it just yet.

They promised to slow implementation of the new middle school math program, assess its results this summer and provide a program next year that better blends traditional and modern teaching methods.

Parents at Tuesday night's educational services committee meeting, however, said their children have already fallen behind.

Connected Math is a research-based program developed by the National Science Foundation to address deficiencies in the way math is taught in the United States, said Nancy Sherlock-Robson, curriculum coordinator of secondary math and science.

North Penn piloted the program in 2000-2001, used it this year in two seventh-grade math levels, and plans to phase it into the eighth-grade curriculum this fall.

Rather than cover large numbers of mathematical topics in a disconnected format, Connected Math attempts to concentrate on math's "big ideas," like problem-solving, and present students with more real world applications, Sherlock-Robson said. It's done in teams and is "discovery-based," meaning formulas are generally not handed out.

The program is also used locally in the Abington, Pennridge and Quakertown Community school districts.

Parents complain the Connected Math text is confusing, poorly written, doesn't stress independent thinking and allows for use of calculators constantly, leaving students out of practice with fundamental processes.

They have compiled research about the program's failings in other states and contacted educational experts who oppose it.

Trish Gallagher of Montgomery Township said teachers have been giving out worksheets over the last two weeks that cover material their students have never seen, in effect "teaching for the test."

Another parent said the children "feel stupid" when they get review sheets they cannot complete.

"Our children can't afford another year of wasted math," said Sharon Rost of Montgomery Township.

Some are lobbying teachers to place their children in more difficult pre-algebra courses to get away from Connected Math. Others want a traditional, computational program to be offered as an alternative.

Assistant Superintendent Donald Venema said that's impossible to do because of scheduling conflicts.

Venema acknowledged there were transitional problems for seventh-graders this year because they did not have the new kindergarten-to-sixth grade curriculum, "Everyday Math," which lays the foundations for Connected Math.

But he said, "We don't want to judge the success of our program after one year."

"We hear the criticisms, and we know that a careful analysis of this program must take place," he said. "We plan to take a very hard look at it this summer, do our assessments and have wide-ranging conversation with teachers to come up with a plan for next year."

After analyzing final exams, test results, teacher surveys and other data, supervisor of mathematics and science David Decker said curriculum changes would likely be discussed at the school board's August meeting.

Paul Ruppel can be contacted via e-mail at pruppel@phillyburbs.com

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