Weekly Math Updates

Clarification: I have verified that there will be a division standard in grade 2 on the new Utah math standards. That really makes the analysis below even more complete.

February 14 , 2007


  • Round 2 - ASD's Math Picks
  • Legislature Update
  • Media Articles
  • In God We Trust Donations
  • Weekly Comic

Hi All,

This is an important update this week. ASD has chosen their programs for us to select from but it's not quite set in stone. You need to read what I've put below and then email the board members immediately.


It's true, Investigations Math is gone from the state and from Alpine School District. Take a deep breath, wave goodbye, thank them for the memories, and then get ready for round two. :)


Round 2 - ASD's Math Picks

Based on my research below, we do not have a choice being presented to us by the district on a new math program. These programs are equally weak and will not serve our children well except to bring them slightly above the level they were at with Investigations math. Please read below for my analysis and suggestions to fix this problem.

Today's Daily Herald adds unfortunate fuel to the fire that ASD just doesn't get it. "No one at the meeting spoke against the Investigations Math program " showing the district stacked the selection committee with people that don't see the world through the eyes world class education standards. Read this and leave a comment. What a disgrace.


Monday, the Daily Herald ran an article (with some interesting quotes from Alene Ure in the district) that listed the 7 math curricula the district committee had narrowed the choices down to. Here's the article you need to read. I love the "we've been seeking feedback from everywhere" comment. I don't recall anyone on this list being asked for feedback or to work with the selection committee though I did personally ask two board members if I could be on the committee, or at least put a couple of you readers on the committee to ensure we had solid picks.


Here's the list of 7 candidates listed in the article (oops, just noticed the article only lists 6--I guess they used Investigations Math to calculate how many candidates there were)

Harcourt Math, 2007 -- Pre-kindergarten-6th grade
Houghton Mifflin, 2005 -- k-6
MacMillan/McGraw Math, 2005 -- k-6
Everyday Mathematics, 2007 -- k-6
Scott Foresman Math, 2006 -- k-6
Saxon Math, 2007 -- k-6

Tuesday, during the Board's session before the public board meeting, the district committee presented their choices for new programs to the board. The district previously promised to put a "standards-based" program and a "traditional" program on each side of the choice and in this they clearly failed by choosing two middle of the road programs they believe are "balanced." What the district people fail to realize time and again, is that balanced math is strong math with strong teachers. You can't have weak math or weak teachers or you'll have weak students. You need a strong program, teachers that understand MATH (not teaching methods), and then the students will be strong in the subject. In the analysis below, you'll see why these programs should be changed.

1) Scott Foresman math
2) MacMillan/McGraw Hill math

The site MathematicallyCorrect.com grades the California edition of Scott Foresman with a B+ for their 2nd grade text and a B- for the 5th grade. However, I'm certain ASD is not considering the California edition which is written to higher standards than what the state of Utah has at this moment and that means the standard S.F. edition which is a mixture of Investigations with "traditional" or instructivist math. This would immediately lower the score should it be reviewed by the people at MC.com. I'm assuming this is the Addison Wesley edition which some teachers in the district currently use.

The What Works website says of the Scott Foresman/Addison Wesley edition

Rating of Effectiveness [in the study]:
Average: –2 percentile points
Range: –7 to +3 percentile points

In contrast, Saxon math shows this:

Rating of Effectiveness:
Average: +7 percentile points
Range: +4 to +9 percentile points

That's a 9 point average swing in an upward direction for Saxon and on the low end of the range an 11 point swing. For those of you that are new to the list, when Saxon replaced Mathland (identical to Investigations) in California several years ago, scores TRIPPLED (19th pecentile to over 60th) at low income (SES or socioeconomic) schools, and rose 20% at the very weathiest schools that were already in the upper 70's percentile. It helped everyone. Here's a link to the study if you'd like it. (Saxon in California)

Here's is the scoop from the Scott Foresman CA edition webpage:


You can see the California Edition covers division in 2nd grade which puts it on par with some of the best programs available.

In contrast, the Addison-Wesley edition has an actual math vocabulary book and heavy use of the word "strategy" in their mastery descriptions, an unfortunate victim of fate in our case against the failed constructivist style of teaching. Here's a link, though I have to admit the information is pretty sparse which doesn't give me any added confidence.


On the McGraw Hill side, I've asked some national contacts about this because there's an absence of information written about it on major sites which may indicate it's newer and hasn't been involved in many studies yet. McGraw Hill publishes a range of math programs, some of which are top notch such as SRA and Glencoe, but in looking at the MacMillan edition so far I'm unimpressed and I wonder what happened to programs such as SRA in the selection process.


Comparing the grade 2 course work to the SF CA edition, there's no contest. MacMillan doesn't cover division, nor does it cover multiplication. Children get to 2 digit addition and subtraction by the end of the year and multiplication and division are left for 3rd grade, right where they were 30+ years ago. Alene Ure was right in the news article at the top of the page in that children's brains have changed. They're smarter and learn faster than we did as kids. They are fully prepared to devour knowledge and watered down programs do nothing but produce ADHD boredom. (my opinion)

I know the school district solicited feedback on their rubric from teachers, and that some teachers gave them strong feedback which was ignored and put down because there is a strong constructivist undercurrent in the district administration and in the training teachers are receiving in education schools. These program choices reflect a strong desire to mingle some math facts with discovery learning and in the end slow down the pace which a child is fully capable of learning. These programs will not put Utah on track to compete in a global market and will likely have to be replaced when the new Utah state standards come out in May.

My understanding is this is not set in stone yet and the board needs to hear your feedback. I would send them a message through this next link and tell them you would like the Scott Foresman program to be the California edition because it's written to higher standards and covers a deeper knowledge of math which Utah will probably match soon, and request that they replace the MacMillan/McGraw Hill choice with Saxon math. That way we guarantee a solid pick in either case. These picks would also provide some insurance that we don't just throw away the books next year and have to start over as I am hoping that the state standards (which are to be on par with the top nations in the world) will include division concepts in second grade and these programs don't have it.


The biggest benefit to putting Saxon on the list is it will send a clear message to parents that the district finally "gets it" that parents want strong math and that will establish positive relationships with charter school parents who have left in droves over ASD's attitude toward parents. It will also make integration of charter school children back into the district easier.

School Warning

I got an email today from a parent asking if it was safe to put her daughter into 7th grade math in the district from her Saxon charter school since Investigations is being removed. NO! Investigations only went from grades K-5 and Connected math is used from grades 6-9 in many classes of the district. Not unless you check with the teacher personally and learn if the class will be using Connected Math or a true instructivist program should you do that. We have succeeded in ridding ASD and Utah of Investigations math. We hope that revised standards coming this May will rid us of Connected and Interactive math, both complete failures of programs that remove all kinds of essential content for college level math and science. For those of you just joining us that don't know what I've written about these programs in the past, please check out this page for the scoop on these constructivist programs.


If for some reason the revised standards don't kill CMP and IMP, they will die when thousands of Saxon kids from the charter schools reach the middle and high schools and are so bored the teachers won't know what to do with them.

If you call the school, be very careful.  I'm already aware of two situations where counselors that tell you teachers are using traditional math but in actuality are teaching Connected or Interactive math.  In one case, the student is being refused a change to a true traditional math class after discovering it's Connected math.

Legislature Update

SB 30 could come up for a vote as soon as this Thursday morning. Please email your representative and support SB 30 to make district splits an easier process.


Media Articles

LDS-based Liahona Academy puts God back into school

"In the Alpine School District there have been complaints about the math program for five years and the parents haven't been heard," she said. "Here, they would have been listened to."

Humble vegetable that could revolutionise everything from fishing-rods to battleship

Can you say, "What's up doc?" This is pretty fascinating.

"FROM dangling to angling. The humble carrot is set to be used in ways never imagined before, thanks to a discovery by two Scottish scientists who have found a way to convert the vegetable into an advanced material to make products from fishing rods to warships."

In God We Trust Donations

Thank you to those that have donated after getting Monday's message. The response was great and over $500 was raised on Monday bringing our total to over $1,100. We need just under $400 more to reach our goal and order the signs. Please, if you haven't donated just $5-10, please do so and help us get these posters into every classroom. In a time when the ACLU and others are trying to remove God from our lives, lets put a bold reminder in every classroom that God is the sure foundation of our trust.


Weekly Comic

Archive: http://www.weaponsofmathdestruction.com

Till next week,

Oak Norton


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