Educating All Parents To Ensure The Future Of Our Republic

Investigations Math Poll Results - Origins and Articles

Investigations Math was created by a Cambridge non-profit organization known as TERC (short for TERrorizing Children - no, just kidding). What you are about to see is a bit about the Investigations program, what it comprises, and what others are saying about it. You will read statements by teachers using this program that could cause you to reach for some duct tape to wrap your head before it explodes in frustration. Consider yourself warned. Please be sure to read this entire page. You could literally spend hours exploring the few links in #3 and it's almost essential that you review some of those pages so you can see what weak information is touted as real proof of Investigations Math's successes.

1) While chatting with my Brother-in-law, Jon Nelson, a fine programmer (taught me everything I know) and PhD student at Utah State University in Instruction Technology, he pointed out an article from the Boston Globe discussing the implementation of Investigations Math in school districts around Boston. Below is a snip from the article, and here is a link to the full article.

“Smith said school systems need to provide training for parents and teachers if they want the new approach to succeed. In Boston, the school system offers ''math nights" a few times a year and workshops for parents. In Wayland, parents can attend PTO meetings to see examples of math games they can play with their children.

But many parents said they have to do more. They are drilling their children in math facts, hiring tutors, or enrolling their children in Kumon Centers or similar programs. Some specialists say mixing approaches will confuse children, but parents say they want to be sure their children can compute equations with ease.

William Pike, a Wellesley parent who led an unsuccessful fight against a curriculum called MathLand many years ago, found tutoring for his sons. He also did drills with his youngest son, now a 10th-grader. ''We had to play catchup with tutors," said Pike, an MIT graduate. ''It's infuriating."

Then Jon's comments were:

"There is something funny thing about the 'benefits' that are reported [of Investigations Math]. In the article it mentions huge improvements in performance. But, as consumers of research we have to ask, 'what are possible confounding factors?' In other words, 'Is the math curriculum the only factor that is affecting the score improvements or are there other factors?'

The quotes I extracted show a couple possible 'alternatives' as to why the curriculum was so successful. First, the parents are so concerned that they are getting tutors to supplement the curriculum in school. Additionally, the Boston school district offers “math nights” and workshops for the parents.

I am not saying that these things are bad. I am simply saying that these may be some of the reasons why Boston showed such gains. If these things were removed, would we see the same gains? No gain? Or, a decline in performance?"

This was exactly the reason for this survey though I don't think I achieved the exact purpose I was looking for since I'm not overly experienced in doing this. There are certainly things I would do differently were I to repeat this poll. However, it is my belief after doing this survey that the reason for many of the math score improvements we may be having are a direct result of parents spending more time with their children trying to catch them up in their education and in essense homeschooling them to stay competitive.


2) From a website with lots of information about running gifted student programs comes an article called "Why Memorize Math Facts?" The author, Aimee Yermish is an educational consultant and here's a couple clips from her article.

"My private practice is full of kids whose parents thought that way, and now have to pay me lots of money to teach the kids what they could have been taught for free in second or third grade. They usually hit the wall some time in middle school or in algebra I, where you have to use these math facts rapidly on the fly...

...And while I would agree that some of the very highest areas of math (beyond my own expertise, as I am but a lowly molecular biologist-turned-educator, so I haven't studied much beyond multivariate calculus and simple differential equations, plus statistics, linear algebra, and discrete math) do not require automaticity of basic math facts, they do require automaticity of the skills that fall somewhere in between them and single-digit addition, and that those skills are very difficult to master and to automatize when the basic stuff isn't firmly in place. It's going to be very difficult to get to graduate-level mathematics if you can't hack calculus because you couldn't hack algebra because you couldn't hack middle-school math because you couldn't hack arithmetic

Now, where you do have my agreement is that a gifted child who is ready to progress should be allowed to progress. If he is ready to understand algebra, then he should be allowed to study algebra, even if he is still struggling to memorize his math facts. The two areas should be worked on in parallel. Frequently, it's the algebra study that convinces the kids that it was a good idea to learn the math facts in the first place. Holding the "good stuff" hostage to the gifted kid's weakness with basic facts is really neither fair nor truly appropriate, and it's a recipe for underachievement."

It seems to me that what we've seen in this survey is that parents are quite frustrated at the slow nature of Investigations Math. I can say from my own experience that last year my 3rd grader was so frustrated with being asked multiplication problems in school and one boy in the class that was dominating every answer, that in a couple hours with flashcards, she was then dominating the class. Of course, *I* think she's a bright girl, but I also know that memorizing facts improves the brain's recall ability and creates a system for retention of other facts. It's an all around great mental exercise.

3) Below are a list of excellent resources on real studies performed about Investigations math. I hope you will take the time to review at least some of these links and see for yourself the information that is being used in support of the program and the negative comments exposing it.


*Review of studies touted by TERC(the Investigations Math creator) (the conclusion was the study had multiple flaws in its methodology and the program was not compared to a substantively different program such as Saxon math)

*Investigations In Number, Data, and Space (TERC) by Wilfried Schmid, Harvard University (June, 2001). Opening remarks at the NYC HOLD math forum at NYU. "A TERC teacher doesn't explain, and a TERC teacher doesn't teach! I don't want to be misunderstood: group learning and discovery learning are parts of the tool chest of every accomplished teacher, but it is folly to turn these techniques into an ideology. If we mathematicians had to re-discover mathematics on our own, we would not get very far! And indeed, TERC does not get very far. By the end of fifth grade, TERC students have fallen roughly two years behind where they should be."

(Schmid, Wilfried. "Remarks on Investigations in Number, Data and Space (TERC)." opening remarks delivered at the NYC HOLD Math Forum. Are our school's math programs adequate? Experimental mathematics programs and their consequences. New York University Law School, NYC, June 6, 2001.

*What the Data Really Show: Direct Instruction Really Works! The dirty little secret from the biggest education study ever by Jeff Lindsey (great article)

TERC Hands-On Math: A Snapshot View

*An A-Maze-ing Approach to Math by Barry Garelick - One of the best summaries of the debate between constructivists and traditional math proponents which concludes with an NSF sponsored study that shows the research done “falls short of the scientific standards necessary to gauge overall effectiveness.” In other words, there is NO valid research to say whether Investigations and 12 other NSF sponsored math programs are effective or not.

Leadership Education by Dr. Oliver DeMille presented at BYU in June 1999 - A must read article for understanding the purpose of public education and how the great leaders throughout all history were educated.



*Mathematically Correct* (Mathematically Correct is the informal, nationwide organization that fights the Establishment on behalf of sanity and quality in math education. -- David Gelernter, NY Post)

Illinois Loop - An excellent website that has articles from a multitude of subjects from math to social studies and how they're being taught in some schools. Excellent to be aware of the variety of issues we face as parents.

HOLD - Hold Open Logical Debates is the repository of the efforts of mathematicians to bring education back to math classes. Excellent source of information including Wilfried Schmid's paper mentioned above.

Issues in Math Education (Excellent list of more resources)

Reviews of TERC-check this next block out and ask yourself if you think your kids should be taught math with objects instead of textbooks.

Basic Information and Introduction

Investigations in Number, Data, and Space is a K-5 curriculum developed by TERC Inc., Cambridge, MA, and marketed through Pearson Scott Foresman (and previously by Scott Foresman - Addison Wesley and by Dale Seymour). The TERC Investigations Project Director is Susan Jo Russell and the project web site is Pearson Scott Foresman has a Teacher Resources page for the Investigations curriculum.

TERC: Investigations in Number, Data, and Space is marketed (in 2002) as whole classroom units. The curriculum does not come with traditional student textbooks and workbooks. Instead, each year of the curriculum is sold as a box full of material: teacher guides for the year and for individual units, posters, overhead transparencies, manipulatives, work sheets, and assorted gadgets.

As an example of the composition of TERC Investigations, here is the list of student materials included in the Grade 5 package (valid in 2002). 4 rolls of adding machine tape; 36 blank 5/8" cubes; 1,000 stickers for blank cubes; 200 1-cm cubes; 16 transparent blank spinners; 4 450-piece sets of power polygons; 4 buckets of square color tiles (400 per bucket); 1,000 Snap(TM) cubes; 1 set of elementary bar mass set-Ohaus; 4 graduated measuring prisms (2-cm x 5-cm x 21-cm); 4-liter measuring pitcher (calibrated 100 ml - 1,000 ml); 4 spectrum school balance (includes 7-piece mass set); 4 sets standard measuring pitchers (3 pitchers: quart, pint, cup per set); 10 measuring tapes; 12 meter/yard sticks. The total package for Grade 5 is listed at $1,388.42, and within that total the cost of the just mentioned student materials, for a class of 32, is $817.00.

Excuse me....where's the text book? This is 5th grade and we're still not beyond objects????

Investigations Math Menu

** Most important pages to read (all have value but if you will only read a few pages make it these)
* Very important

Research and Information Press Coverage

THE PETITION TO REMOVE INVESTIGATIONS MATH** (OVER 5% of ASD represented--still ignored by ASD)


Math With Madeline Video

All Weekly Email Updates **

Edspresso Article on WMD Comics

Weapons of Math Destruction Comics**

What Can You Do About Fuzzy Math in Your Area - 13 Ideas**

Brain Programming

ASD's Saxon Math Deception
Part 2 of the Deception

4/21/07 ASD Superintendent Calls Parents Extremists (for wanting the times tables in schools)

Alpine School District Residents Should Choose Saxon Math

9/13/06 Dual Enrollment Guidelines - Opting Out of Math or Other Classes

9/2/06 Jaime Escalante and NCTM Standards**

9/2/06 Amber Lee's Independent Research

The Math Story (ie. How I Got Started)

7/31/06 Educators Ignore Project Follow-Through**

7/26/06 Comparison of Alpine to Nebo and Provo Districts and comments on Orem City Breaking Off **

3/30/06 Utah Public Radio Broadcast with David Wright and Damon Bahr* (Right-Click and use Save As to download)

Insane Supplementary Materials Compound Investigations Math Nightmare**

Map of ASD Precincts and Election information- You must register to run by 3/17

3/2/06 David Wright's Mathematician Petition to the State of Utah*

2/14/06 Why are Charter School Scores Better than Alpine School District's?*

2/14/06 Alpine School District IOWA Test Math Scores

10 Myths About Math Education and Why You Shouldn't Believe Them

2/1/06 The Case for Utah adopting California's Math Standards-Testimony to Utah Congress**

1/10/06 School Board Meeting challenge to find just one valid study by 1/31/06 ** (I'm still waiting)

Math Tutors in Utah (find one/list one)

11/9/05 Update - How ASD is failing more children each year**

ASD's statement to teachers authorizing them to teach traditional math without fear of repercussion

California Study showing tripling of scores for schools that left constructivist math and implemented Saxon Math**

10/31/05 Petition Maps (see where people are signing the petition-blue dots are schools, red are petitions)

How About Grades 6-12 Connected and Interactive Math?**

Raising Critical Thinking Skills*

Pro-Investigations websites (for anyone interested)

8/15/05 Update (compares Alpine to other districts and charter schools) *

7/29/05 Update (resources given to ASD, sample problems, ASD vs. Nebo School District) *

Investigations Math Origins and Articles*

Math Programs Compared ("Traditional", Investigations, Saxon)

Supplementing your Public School Student's Education**

The California Investigations Math Failure**

Community comments - both Pro/Anti Investigations **

Investigations Math Poll Introduction and Question Summary*


Additional articles are covered in weekly updates since April 2007

Victory in Utah - State to Revamp Standards (11/16/06)

Major Breaking News...NCTM does a 180 after 17 years of destroying math in America

It must really irritate the folks at Alpine School District (ASD) who have taken to calling all my work "biased and flawed" to have such no-name disreputable organizations pandering to my lies. The legacy of ASD will be the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of students unable to obtain a technical higher education degree.

4/25/07 Provo Daily Herald - Math petitioners called 'extremists' in Alpine District

4/24/07 Deseret News Article - So how many different programs are appropriate to use at one time Mr. Henshaw?

3/1/07 - Deseret News - Schools' grades mixed - Utah system rated by U.S. Chamber in a new report

2/14/07 Provo Daily Herald - Committee makes math program suggestions for Alpine: Many in district pine for 'Investigations'

2/14/07 Deseret News - Alpine seeking balance in math

2/12/07 Deseret News - Math Program Deleted - Alpine District dumps controversial approach

11/16/06 Deseret News - State leaders support math overhaul for schools

11/16/06 Salt Lake Tribune - Utah's 'fuzzy math' curriculum scrapped; legislators endorse plan to revamp state standards

11/15/06 New York Times - As Math Scores Lag, a New Push for the Basics

10/29/06 Provo Daily Herald - Survey: Math Program Doesn't Add Up

10/25/06 Deseret News - Students decline at 5 Utah colleges

10/19/06 Deseret News - Math learning is shallow in U.S., professor says

10/19/06 Deseret News - Math in Utah — 'fuzzy' or A-OK?

10/06 Salt Lake Tribune - Bad marks for Utah's schools

10/9/06 BYU NewsNet - Alpine School District Under Attack

9/30/06 Provo Daily Herald - Districts evaluate 'failures' in testing

9/29/06 Provo Daily Herald - Utah schools receive progress rankings

9/26/06 - Parents Know the Right Equation for Teaching Math - by Phyllis Schafly

9/12/06 Wall Street Journal - New Report Urges Return to Basics In Teaching Math

9/6/06 Provo Daily Herald - Parent suggests Alpine district be responsive

8/28/06 Provo Daily Herald - Alpine readies to let schools choose curriculum for math (be sure to check out the comments section)

8/26/06 Provo Daily Herald - Charter schools attract parents concerned about public education

7/29/06 Deseret News - Burned-out teachers problematic

7/26/06 Deseret News - Most favor creation of small school districts

5/28/06 Salt Lake Tribune - Alpine School District relents and will change its math offerings***

5/26/06 Deseret News - Alpine opts for choice in its math programs***

5/25/06 Provo Daily Herald - District Reviews Math Options***

5/23/06 - Provo Daily Herald -Orem OKs feasibility study of splitting from Alpine district

5/23/06-Deseret News - Orem not hastening into a schools split

5/23/06-Salt Lake Tribune Article-Orem to study Alpine District split

5/12/06 Provo Daily Herald - Math decision delayed

5/10/06 Provo Daily Herald - Petition Requests District Division

5/6/06 Deseret News - Utah to study states' math programs

4/16/06 Provo Daily Herald- Alpine District continues to lose students to charters

4/6/06 Provo Daily Herald- Charter school debate heats up in Alpine school district

3/20/06 Salt Lake Tribune - Alpine in grip of 'Math Wars'

3/3/06 Provo Daily Herald-Professor: Clearer math standards needed

3/2/06 Deseret News- Math Petition Circulating

2/19/06 San Jose Mercury News - Math back in forefront, but debate lingers on how to teach it.

2/18/06 Salt Lake Tribune-Battle over math teaching spreads

2/15/06 Salt Lake Tribune-Indifference to math skills part of the problem

2/15/06 Deseret News-Parents voice their views on Alpine math

2/15/06 Provo Daily Herald-Provo district seeks math balance

2/9/06 Deseret News - Alpine trio defend approach to math
Rebuttal Letter to Editor: Math approach is harmful

2/7/06 Deseret News - Alpine defends math classes

2/2/06 Deseret News - Lawmaker Gives Alpine Math an F

1/29/06 Salt Lake Tribune - Charter School Funding Tight

1/20/06 Deseret News Letter to Editor: Rote exercises pay vital role in mathematical education

1/7/06 Provo Daily Herald - Investigations: Not your parent's math

12/18/05 Provo Daily Herald -Math doesn't add up for all

12/13/05  15 Charter Schools Scheduled to Open Next Year

11/24/05 Provo Daily Herald - Parents mad over new math curriculum (be sure to read the comments)



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