There is an attitude in some schools today that goes something like this: ‘It’s not so important that students know theorems, equations, and definitions. They can always look those up. What’s important is that they understand the concepts behind them.’ All too often, this is just an excuse for failing to teach children fundamentals. Of course we want students to understand the concepts behind the symbols and equations. We want them to grasp how the Pythagorean Theorem works, not just be able to plug numbers into it. But educators who scoff at the notion of requiring children to remember that formula, have yet to explain the conflict between understanding a ‘concept’ and being able to recall the relevant math facts. The two are not mutually exclusive. More important, it has yet to be demonstrated that students can do math consistently, correctly, and comfortably without knowing fundamental terms, axioms, and definitions. Doing math takes knowledge of math. It’s that simple.
The Educated Child, p.281
Investigations in Number, Data, and Space® is a K-5 mathematics curriculum developed at TERC in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Blaine County School District approved its adoption on June 14, 2011. While there are many positive elements in this math program, many experts state that Investigations is not a balanced, complete mathematics course. So, while the program was created with good intentions, it has sparked much debate across the country. Its reform mathematics philosophy and curricula differ significantly in approach and content to standard mathematics philosophy and curricula.
Some people don’t want to bother with facts and data:
I’m going to trust the publisher and fly on blind faith. I believe [our new math] program will work, but I don’t know it for sure. So, I’m going to fly on blind faith and be confident that Investigations will work.
-(paraphrased) Math Task Force committee member at the Hailey Elementary Parent Math Meeting on 10/10/11.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- School districts across the country have removed or are in the process of removing Investigations in Number, Data, and Space®.
- According to the U.S. Department of Education, no studies of Investigations in Number, Data, and Space® meet What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) evidence standards. At this time, the WWC is unable to draw any conclusions based on research about the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of Investigations.
- Hundreds of leading university math professors and Nobel Laureates condemn reform mathematics such as TERC Investigations:
“If your child goes to a school that uses TERC Investigations, you should understand that it means your child’s school has abdicated its responsibility to teach your child mathematics. By doing so, the responsibility now rests with the parents. Good Luck.” (emphasis added)
-Dr. W. Stephen Wilson, Ph.D Professor of Mathematics at Johns Hopkins University, Ph.D in mathematics for MIT, author of numerous mathematic standards and reviews, and father of a former TERC student.
Website references for TERC, Investigations Math, BCSD Math Task Force, other supporting information
Research and Analysis of TERC’s Investigations
Organizations challenging TERC in schools
www.stopterc.com STOP TERC: STOP Taking Excessive Risks with our Children
Article from online newspapers about TERC
National Reports on Math
The Final Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel 2008 U.S. Dept of Education
The State of Standards-and the Common Core-in 2010, Sourced from Sheila Byrd Carmichael & Gabrielle Martino, Kathleen Porter-Magee, & W. Stephen Wilson
Blaine County School District Math Task Force
BCSD 6/14/2011 Minutes, see section XII. b. “Approval of Math Text Adoption”
BCSD Math Task Force Meeting January 4, 2011: Assumptions Regarding Selection of Textbook Series