Educating All Parents To Ensure The Future Of Our Republic

Investigations Math Poll Results - The California Failure

If you've been reading this sequence of pages, you are aware that I attended a community meeting in the Spring of 2005 with our school district. Something I have just learned blows a hole in another of the school districts representations. I was curious about a statement that was made after a visitor brought up the point that schools in California tried to implement Investigations Math and then concluded it was dragging them down so they dumped it. The individual speaking for the school district at this meeting said that in California, they had only used Investigations Math for a year or two and it was showing promising results but they didn't have a full implementation of it. They never gave it a fair test. Those were essentially his words.

What I have learned, is that those words are completely false. Whether he was just ignorant of the facts or deliberately made those statements is unknown to me but here's the real story.

Not only did California implement Investigations and Mathland and other curriculum in this same genre of "fuzzy math," they ran it for over 7 years. From before 1992 to 1998 California ran this program and watched test scores drop. At California State University remedial math course enrollments went from 25% in 1992 for college freshmen, to over 50% of the student freshman population in 1999 (see study). That shows a completely different picture about the true effects of Investigations Math.

The following clip is from an article in the Los Angeles Times in 1999 written by two math professors (one from Stanford and the other from CSUN and on the state board of education in CA) (See L.A.'S MATH PROGRAM JUST DOESN'T ADD UP)

"LASI has promoted an experimental K-6 math curriculum, Mathland [precursor to Investigation's Math and roughly the same program], which has no textbooks for students. Its manual for teachers tells them not to explain the standard algorithms of arithmetic to children. In other words, children are not taught the traditional procedures for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Nowhere in any of these K-6 materials is the usual way to multiply two numbers, like 35 times 76, ever explained...

Mathland and IMP are not the only questionable programs implemented by LASI in Los Angeles schools. All of LASI's recommendations are problematic. The heavy emphasis on calculators is particularly damaging. This often results in students needing their calculators for even the most rudimentary figuring. It is our view that calculators should be used sparingly in grades 6-12 and not at all in grades K-5. The base 10 structure of our number system together with the standard arithmetic algorithms carry the seeds of algebra. Depriving children of mastery of arithmetic closes doors to more advanced mathematics courses in ways that district staff members do not seem to understand.

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."

Did you catch that? Algebra is the SINGLE GREATEST PREDICTOR OF SUCCESS IN COLLEGE FOR ALL FIELDS. When one district dropped this Investigations Math's program, it was reported (same article):

"Sacramento Unified School District abandoned the faddish LASI-style curricula for its multiethnic students and increased its first and second grade SAT-9 test scores by more than 16 percentile points this year."

From a news release by the HOLD (Honest Open Logical Debate) group in California that began fighting this fuzzy math program, the following information describes the true results of the "early success" some people quote when dealing with this program (see Parents' Math Group Says Test Results Distorted)

The California Department of Education released the scores on the 1994 California Learning Assessment System (CLAS) test Apr. 3, and, said HOLD steering committee member Bill Evers, Palo Alto school district officials are "already making misleading and wrongheaded comparisons." Evers referred to a statement of Associate Superintendent Barbara Liddell, who [San Jose Mercury News, 4/5/95] had compared the percentages of Palo Alto eighth-graders in the top CLAS rank in 1993 (1%) and 1994 (24%)...

But, Evers noted, such comparisons are "completely invalid -- district officials simply don't know how to read the results." The state Department of Education says that because the test has been changed and the grading procedure has been changed: "Comparisons between 1993 and 1994 CLAS test results should not be made." [Calif. Dept. of Ed., news release #95-19, 4/4/95]

When district officials make comparisons between 1993 and 1994 'proficiency level' numbers, according HOLD member Zeev Wurman, they "must not forget" to tell the public that in 1994 the grading criteria for mathematics were "significantly lowered. It became especially easier to get a high grade. To take a metaphor from the high jump or the hurdles, the state of California has 'lowered the bar.'"

The statewide percentages for reading and writing essentially did not change between 1993 and 1994, but the math scores in the highest CLAS rank (6) changed from 0.03% in 1993 to 3% in 1994, a hundredfold increase. Similarly in the second CLAS rank (5) the numbers increased statewide by a factor of two to five at various year-level grades. "Such astronomical improvements within a year," Wurman says, "can only come by artificial means. Concluding, as the district does, that these results show children ascending to higher levels of achievement is wrong."

Did you see that? The individuals responsible for the program took the opportunity to change top ranking percentiles and thus artificially boosted the scores by a factor of ONE HUNDRED. By 1997, the ELM exam (Entry Level Math) used in California showed a statewide average failure rate of 55%, with the school districts using Mathland at a failure rate of 78% (link).

Without solid math facts gained in younger grades, the children will not do as well in algebra. The reason is you have to be able to quickly compute with math facts when you do algebra problems (try 2x + y = 10, y = 4. Can you do it in your head?). If you can't do algebra, you are less likely to succeed in ANY field, not just math. Calculators should be banned from our schools unless you are in the most advanced math and science classes.

So when our school district officials say California didn't give this program a fair shake, don't believe one word of it. The program was a disaster and California math students went from tops in the nation to 3rd lowest. That's where Alpine School District is taking our children.

However, California has since recognized their problem and done an about face. According to a Fordham Foundation report entitled "The State of State Math Standards" California now has the number 1 curriculum in the nation and their test scores are coming up. Utah has gone from a "B" to "D" grade for our curriculum and we're ranked 35th in the nation for our math curriculum.

For a list of California's now approved top-notch math curriculum coursework, which by the way includes Saxon math, go to this site, then click on Adopted Report.

To try and improve your child's math knowledge, be sure to check out the Extra feature on supplementing your child's education.

Added 11/3/05

I have added an article by Wayne Bishop, PhD, Cal State Department of Mathematics where he studied California schools that adopted Saxon math when they were forced to drop Investigations math and he charts the improvement in math scores for the schools. It is a remarkable study showing incredible improvements across the board from low socio-economic schools (SES) as well as in high SES schools. Click below to view this Word document:
Four Years of California Mathematics Progress

Added 10/23/06

This document is a quick summary of how California's standards were weakened, parents got involved with professionals, standards were raised, the state is moving up and in time will regain it's place as one of our top mathematical states.

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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