Thursday, March 1, 2012

How Bad is Everyday Math? – part 2

I was speaking with a friend last night at the Riverside School Science Fair about what is wrong with Everyday Math.  One of the items I focused on was the lack of practice that the students get in EDM, as noted in part 1 of this topic. 

“Insufficient drill for addition, subtraction, multiplication, division facts.  The schools are relying on parents to conduct the drills, in most cases only if they (the parents) realize there is an issue (i.e., only one of my daughter’s three teachers has indicated that she should drill at home, and that was her ALP teacher).  The point is that if the teacher does not indicate that the student should drill, there is a large probability that the student and parent will not recognize the need, and will not drill at home.”

And

“Insufficient attention to standard algorithms.”

I thought it might be useful to see if I could quantify the number of practice problems.  In my daughter’s second grade home links book, I had counted 407 practice problems across addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  Some of these problems involved estimation, and I know they used the fact triangles in school for some practice, and there are games which are meant to reinforce basic facts. 

Since I had nothing to compare against, that still didn’t answer my question.  So I went looking and found an interesting comparison of third grade math texts (student  and teacher editions) submitted to the Texas State Board of Education for approval in 2007.  For Everyday Math, and for some of the other texts, the submitted texts were specifically designed to meet the Texas standards (which are generally held to be better than the old CT standards).   However, the basic content should be similar to what we are currently using to provide a reasonable answer. 

DISCLAIMER: The analysis was done by a private company, not the State of Texas. 
The analysis focused on the number of times the standard algorithm was tested and practiced in the third grade suite of books.  Eight different programs were examined, three ultimately rated “Better”, three “Fair”, one “Poor” and one “Worst” (wait for it!).

For ease, I will compare Everyday Math to Saxon Math, of which many folks have at least heard. 

Attribute
Saxon
EDM
NOTES
How many times was the standard
289
0
partial sums method used
algorithm for addition practiced or reviewed?
How many times was the standard
44
0
partial sums method used
algorithm for addition tested (after
the initial test)?
How many times was the standard
353
90
algorithm for subtraction practiced or reviewed?
How many times was the standard
57
3
algorithm for subtraction tested (after
the initial test)?
How many times was the standard
39
0
partial products, lattice, other
algorithm for multiplication practiced or reviewed?
methods used
How many times was the standard
11
0
partial products, lattice, other
algorithm for multiplication tested (after
methods used
the initial test)?
How many times were basic multiplication
1928
393
plus 13 games and 11 Fact
facts practiced?
Triangle drills
How many times was the standard
20
0
dividing 2 digits by 1 digit
algorithm for division practiced or reviewed?
How many times were basic division
918
133
plus 2 games and 11 Fact
facts practiced?
Triangle drills

Third grade means learning multiplication, so you would expect the largest effort (practice) to be focused on that operation.  The difference between the two curricula (1928 vs 393), even when some credit is given to the games and Fact Triangles, is stark.  I would think a similar analysis in grades one and two would find similar differences for addition and subtraction.  I would discount slightly the differences for division, as this may be reflective more of the higher level of the standards in Texas, pushing division into the third grade. 
So you be the judge.  Are you children getting enough practice?  Are you practicing at home?  Have you told your child's teacher how much you are doing at home?
And yes, Everyday Math was rated "Worst."

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