A debate over Georgia math: Where do you stand?

Lots of stuff in the AJC today about Georgia’s new math, including a pro-con package on the education op-ed page. (A few of you have talked to me about writing op-eds for the Monday education page that I put together. Send them any time.) There was also a front page story today on how much systems have invested in the new math that now may go away. I will post that later.)

The pieces are by John Konop, a business owner and Get Schooled poster, and Dane Marshall of Cumming, a retired mathematics teacher with more than 40 years of education experience.

Here they are:

By John Konop

Math 123 may be a well-intended effort to prepare students for a globally competitive workplace, but it’s a proven failure that’s causing substantially more harm than good. Math 123 radically changed our high school math curriculum without properly reviewing it with teachers and parents. It replaced the traditional math sequence (Algebra I & II, geometry and trigonometry) with Math 1, Math 2 and Math 3, which teaches each subject in parallel, rather than starting and completing one topic before moving on to the next.

All Georgia students are now required to pass Math 123 to graduate from high school, which means they must complete the equivalent of Algebra II. That is too aggressive a goal for some students. Prior to Math 123, less than one-third of students were able to complete Algebra I. Those who can’t pass Math 123 are dropping out of school in shocking numbers, damaging their self-esteem and long-term economic prospects. Many resort to taking the GED, which doesn’t require Algebra II, to salvage their futures.

Math 123 makes the same mistake as President George W. Bush’s unpopular No Child Left Behind program: It’s unrealistic to ask all high school students to complete a college-prep curriculum. Some kids would be better served by a strong vocational and/or technical option.

Math 123 also harms teacher morale. It’s not reasonable to call our math teachers failures because they cannot teach every student Math 123’s higher requirements.

Math 123 leaves Georgia with an oddball math curriculum compared to other states, which puts our kids at a disadvantage as they compete for college acceptance. It has also created a nightmare for students transferring in and out of Georgia public high schools. That’s because it’s very difficult to determine where a student who is part way through Math 123 belongs in the traditional structure. Finally, Math 123 does not track correctly with the math skills needed to complete science courses such as chemistry and physics. Thus, students now face topics in science before they’ve learned the underlying math.

What can we do? First, Math 123 should be withdrawn and Georgia schools should return to the traditional math curriculum. Second, public high schools should link their curricula and graduation requirements with local universities, junior colleges and technical colleges to give kids a chance to pursue vocational training or advanced academics. Third, college-prep students should be eligible to have their course work coordinated with a university system. This would challenge Georgia’s top students and give them a leg-up when competing with kids from other states for college admissions.

Finally, we should increase the linkage between our schools and business communities by creating local all-star teams for math and science students based on criteria established and judged by the business community. This program could reward top students with scholarship money and truly celebrating their achievements.

John Konop is CEO of Greystone Business Resources Corp. in Woodstock.

Here is the other side:

By Dane Marshall

Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon to discredit the integrated math curriculum. Informed people made the change after deliberate study. Input was sought from teachers who were recognized as outstanding in their field, as well as from university experts who had insight into the teaching of math. The new curriculum was introduced in stages beginning in fall 2005, so that teachers and students would have the opportunity to acclimate themselves over time.

I recognize that when talking with teachers and parents, an integrated curriculum gets mixed reviews.

But when studying standardized test scores, an integrated curriculum produces students who were stronger in mathematics than students who were instructed using a traditional approach, according to a recent statement by the Georgia Council of Supervisors of Mathematics.

Some school systems want to go back to the traditional curriculum because it is familiar to them. Comments I have heard include, “We taught math with algebra, geometry and trigonometry for 50 years and we did just fine.”

The reality is that we did not fare so well with that approach, as our test scores consistently showed. Sure, the old curriculum produced some students who were proficient in math, but I believe it failed many others. Some say that the new curriculum is too difficult and that students who once made an “A” in math are now struggling. There were some avenues in the old curriculum that allowed students to proceed on a watered-down path. Some of these were the same students who earned a “B” or better in high school math only to be required to participate in remedial math classes once they were in college.

In the late 1990s, I was part of a teacher exchange program, and I visited several schools in Germany. The instructors were using an integrated approach that I found both interesting and exciting. The students were proficient in math, and they also had a vision of how the various strands of mathematics complemented each other. When studying a topic in algebra, they were able to bring in a geometric approach that facilitated their understanding of the new concept.

Our students have, and have always had, the ability to do likewise, but our curriculum has not encouraged it. By compartmentalizing our math, many students didn’t see the “big picture.” Perhaps this is one reason students from other countries consistently score better than do our students on tests assessing mathematical understanding.

When our students are tested by any recognized international criteria, we are consistently near the bottom of the list. I believe that if we give the integrated curriculum the opportunity to show its benefits to Georgia students, that will change. To declare the integrated curriculum a failure at this time and to cavalierly dismiss it is a mistake. Let’s stick with an integrated curriculum and give it an opportunity to succeed.

Dane Marshall of Cumming is a retired mathematics teacher with more than 40 years of education experience.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

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76 comments Add your comment

Tony

February 21st, 2011
5:48 pm

Konop said, “It’s unrealistic to ask all high school students to complete a college-prep curriculum. Some kids would be better served by a strong vocational and/or technical option.”

Untrue and emotional arguments will keep our kids behind. Georgia is about to throw out one of the best opportunities to improve the level of mathematics achievment simply because some people don’t have the stomach to stick with the change and see it through. This kind of wishy-washy attitude is what keeps all our schools from excelling.

We claim we want high standards for all, but then we make excuses for why we shouldn’t expect all students to achieve. Let’s look at the “vocational” argument for a second. Do you realize that vocational-technical education is no longer what it used to be? All the areas have ramped up their requirements for students. Especially the level of mathematics required. To claim that some students “need” a lesser education is selling them short and taking them out of the world competition for good jobs.

The countries that are supposedly beating our kids’ pants off in mathematics use an integrated approach. I have not been to Germany to see first-hand, but I have hosted an exchange student from Berlin. Her math text was clearly based on an integrated framework and was at an exceptionally high level. When I asked her who took that course, she said all students had to take the same mathematics.

Where did we go wrong with our approach? By gutting the professional development for teachers that should have accompanied the new curriculum and by underfunding textbooks. These maneuvers came from the governor and the legislature.

So, here we are about to take two giant steps backwards because we don’t have the guts to stick with high standards.

TeachMom

February 21st, 2011
5:49 pm

It is quite obvious that Dane Marshall is a RETIRED math teacher. This curriculum is horrible and the class of 2012 through 2014 (at least) are utterly screwed. Most of them have no clue of basic math functions and have spent so much time “discovering” answers that they couldn’t solve a real math equation to save their lives.

Veteran teacher, 2

February 21st, 2011
5:52 pm

Has Mr. Konop looked at the Common Core Standards yet? There is no “return to traditional math of Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2″ there. Please look at the standards assigned to those classes in Common Core. You will find that the Common Core High School math standards are almost the same as the current GPS. Common Core is still one size fits all. Common Core even adds more standards than the current GPS. Common Core has been adopted by 44 states, including Georgia, and Common Core is slated to begin simultaneously in all subject areas in all grades in the fall of 2012. The third year of Common Core math ends with a study of circle Trigonometry. Mr. Konop, that is beyond Algebra 2.

Ms. Marshall is a highly respected veteran math teacher. She is correct when she states that the traditional Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 did not work, either. I have taught math for over 30 years.

Why can’t the powers that be get a group together with representatives of all stakeholders and derive a REASONABLE math curriculum that is measured by REASONABLE and VALID assessments.

One can only dream, I guess!!

Veteran teacher, 2

February 21st, 2011
5:56 pm

Tony is correct in his comments about the requirements for entrance into Technical Colleges. They are no longer for the marginally capapble students as a last resort. The technical colleges expect significant math fluency above the Algebra 2 level. Students will have to get that in high school or in remedial classes at the college level. A lot has changed in the last five years. Many of the comments about technical colleges are no longer valid.

East Cobb Parent

February 21st, 2011
5:59 pm

TeachMom I’ll drink to that. If the BOE does not make the change to the current math disaster, they will see my picket signs.

Veteran teacher, 2

February 21st, 2011
6:00 pm

@TeachMom…My students can do functions and solve problems. I lecture and demonstrate every day in addition to doing reasonable discovery lessons. I do not fear EOCT or SAT. My students will be ready.

GPS training did not prescribe any teaching methods. It is all about balance. I will agree that there is WAY too much content to reasonably master in one year.

justin

February 21st, 2011
6:00 pm

“Common Core is slated to begin simultaneously in all subject areas in all grades in the fall of 2012″

The Common Core State Standards Initiative only wrote English Language and Math standards, so far. Not sure what “all subjects” Veterean Teacher, 2 is referring to.

As for Mr. Konop, it’s clear he doesn’t read anything – it’s all his opinions.

catlady

February 21st, 2011
6:09 pm

My opinion is not based on Math 1, 2, 3, 4, but on what comes BEFORE that. The elementary grades GPS bounces very quickly (or at least our curriculum map does) and assumes all students are on grade level and have master the previous years’ GPS. Not at all true in my system. As long as we teach to “expose” children to concepts rather than master concepts, we will continue to promote children who are years behind in math skills. I know the middle school cannot believe what they are sent, and I imagine it is the same for the high school.

I think the amount of money that has been wasted on Math 1, 2, 3, 4 should be recouped from the salaries/retirement accounts of those who pushed it through. For the common student, it has been an unmitigated disaster. Someone got fat off it, and I would like to know who.

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chuck

February 21st, 2011
6:14 pm

Maureen, as with MOST complex problems, the answer is not an either/or one. There is a place for the integrated curriculum for our better math students. BUT we have a significant number of students who are just quitting school because they have no hope of passing these courses. Students along with their parents should have more options to choose from. I had a bad experience in 8th grade algebra. I had made straight A’s in math to that point but I hated algebra, primarily because of my teacher who spoke in a strongly German accent that I just could not understand. I decided to take regular math in the 9th grade and had a 98 average. They MADE ME take Geometry rather than math 2 and I made A’s until the last 2 six-week grading periods which required an algebra background that I did not have. Needless to say I flunked the last 2 grading periods but passed the class. The next year they MADE ME take Algebra 2. It was a disaster. Here I was taking honors classes in every other subject and making A’s and I was flunking algebra 2. It is still the only course that I ever failed in my life.

I have 4 graduate degrees and I teach social studies…exactly what I knew I was going to do from the 10th grade on. There has never been a time that I needed anything that I learned in algebra 2. I know it will shock you math teachers, but MOST JOBS don’t require even a basic knowledge of algebra, much less calculus or trig. REGULAR MATH on the other hand is used by EVERYBODY. Students and parents have a pretty good idea what they want to do. Let them choose the math that they want to take. Quit forcing them into classes that have no practical use unless they plan to go into engineering. Let’s re-institute a vocational track for students who want to go to work after high school. That’s what many other countries do and the reason they do so is because it’s what we used to do and it worked.

amazed

February 21st, 2011
6:17 pm

Is anyone aware of how other states are doing the math cirriculum? From the arguments I see in public, it seems like Georgia is once again re-inventing the wheel instead of learning from others. Other countries have different cultures and educational systems. Germany, used by the pro columnist as an example, has several different tracks in high school, not all of which lead to college.

The 1st question in the debate should be what results other states,if any, who have used the new math longer have had.

Probably the worst decision is to leave it up to the individual schools districts. With mobility in society today, it puts many students at a serious disadvantage when they switch districts.

East Cobb Parent

February 21st, 2011
6:31 pm

@catlady I agree that the math is a disaster starting with ES. Mastery is not taught at any level. So each year the children are less prepared than the year before. The focus has been on high school, but it all needs to change. As always it comes down to the money trail, someone got rich off of this deal.

TeachMom

February 21st, 2011
6:39 pm

@ Veteran Teacher, 2, I’m happy to hear that your students are prepared but unfortunately, that seems to be the exception and not the norm. I teach ELA and because my county dictates that high school teachers also serve as advisors/guidance counselors/parents, I hear the horror stories about math. It’s pretty sad. These kids are not stupid. They know that they don’t understand and that this curriculum is not being taught properly. We had 300 kids attend summer school in 2010 because they failed Math I. That’s too many kids to place the blame on. They aren’t all lazy and unmotivated. And they’re supposed to learn the material by taking a virtual class? Nonsense!

Common Sense Teacher

February 21st, 2011
6:42 pm

Not every one of the respondees on this post is a math genius. I certainly am not. Having one college-prep demand for all students in high school is an impossible dream. Students with a 70 IQ are not going to excel in higher math regardless of how well he’s being taught. It makes more sense to let the students excel in areas where they have a chance to “master” the material taught. The return to intense teaching each math discipline makes more sense than to keep mish-mashing the math standards and demanding the teachers do a better job at a ridiculous mandate. It was my understanding that education is not supposed to set-up their students for failure. I certainly try not to do this in my classes.

Al Floer

February 21st, 2011
6:50 pm

I’ll state it up front. I’m not a teacher, but an engineer (30yrs). i am concerned, like all that our students are not getting an education liek we think they should. With either corriculum, one thing that is left out is that some students will choose to “fail”. This is a fact. Some chose to “fail” due to pressure of trying to learn in either program. Some want to drop out of life in general. Some are influenced by factors out od school that the teachers have no control over. Many are in situations at home that are very negative, and are self destructive for all around. Many students are not motivated to excell or how math effects every day life and their future. All students are not equal and cannot learn at the same rate or capacity. So all students that are forced to styudy a program that caused confusion and dispair will have large negative results. My daugher is a teacher and tells me student in Math 2 cannot do sq roots, or multiple/devide fractions or understand negative numbers, and forcing them to do Alg/Geo is beyond me. This is dissapointing. I went to HS in SCarolina and remember seeing same thing with my friends. Nothing has changed. We did to many , non legal, things while in school and some dropped out, some learned after wards and had to do it again in night school. The bottom line is that those that did not understand Higher level math were not forced to take the class and possible fail out of HS. Times have changed and so must the process. But we need to also adress the external forces that play havoc with our student. It is not jus the corriculum but how we get students at all levels interested in LEARNING. Teach someone how to learn and it will happen. We need to teach our childeren why learing is important. But there will still be those left behind no matter how we teach. Fact of life…….

Ole Guy

February 21st, 2011
7:02 pm

Are we going to continue the dumbing down process? If the kid has the discipline and motivation to sit in the desk, listen, open the mind to new things, and aggressively apply one’s self, this big bad 123 business shouldn’t be a big deal. On the one hand, we want to prepare these kids for the demands of the future; in the very next breath, we entertain alternate avenues for those who feel that they can’t cut it. This entire arguement spells one thing…FUTURE GENERATIONS OF LOOSERS!

When are the education elites going to stop rubbing the fannies of kids who have never faced challenge…have never faced a “do or die” situation? The very fact that so-called B average students, HOPE recipients, must take remedials at U, speaks volumns for the fact that kids are NOT being challenged.

Common Sense Teach, one needen’t be a math genius in order to pass (I didn’t say “make outstanding grades”…simply “PASS”) advanced arithmetic. It’s all about setting standards. Those very same standards apply in terms of behavioral expectations, academic achievement, the work place, and the mean ole world. If you wish to argue that, perhaps you are in the wrong profession.

If, on the other hand, all we expect of our future gens is strong backs (non-existent) and weak minds (in great abundance), than we’re on the right path.

john konop

February 21st, 2011
7:04 pm

….Konop said, “It’s unrealistic to ask all high school students to complete a college-prep curriculum. Some kids would be better served by a strong vocational and/or technical option.”
Untrue and emotional arguments will keep our kids behind. Georgia is about to throw out one of the best opportunities to improve the level of mathematics achievment simply because some people don’t have the stomach to stick with the change and see it through. This kind of wishy-washy attitude is what keeps all our schools from excelling…..

I all due respect Tony you are speaking from your heart not your head, I do believe people like you have good attentions but you are definitely hurting kids. If you do not believe me Harvard has already done a study!

Harvard Study Questions Lack of Vocational Education

According to a new Harvard study, American students lack vocational skills that would help them in obtaining jobs that do not require a college degree. Inspired by the European educational system, the study contends that students should begin planning their future career path as early as their middle-school years. If the students determine that they are no planning to pursue a 4-year college degree, then they should begin vocational training, perhaps even earlier.

For those who may question the proposition of pushing kids into vocational programs for fear of their being held to lesser expectations, the authors offer another perspective. Is it no more inappropriate to push difficult college-preparatory courses on students who have absolutely no intention of pursuing a college career? Regardless, the authors feel that students should have the option of changing their educational and career paths at their own discretion.
Robert Schwartz, one of the study’s co-authors was previously a champion of the “college for all” approach to education.

According to higher education policy analyst Sandy Baum, in a world where plumbers are needed, we shouldn’t “be nervous about directing people in that route.” The idea, in his mind, should be to enhance and create opportunities and options for everyone. Baum added, “What we’d like is a system where people of all backgrounds could choose to be plumbers or philosophers.” Baum’s contention is that the options should be available…..

http://headlinesfortoday.com/harvard-study-questions-lack-of-vocational-education-1199.html

Mike Honcho

February 21st, 2011
7:04 pm

@ Vet. teacher 2: You said “GPS training did not prescribe any teaching methods. It is all about balance.” My group heard that balance during the first 3 days of training. At a later training we were told (by a person highly involved with the implementation of the current curriculum) to teach using ALL of the state tasks as written in the frameworks. I’m afraid a large number of districts were told the same thing. If I taught this curriculum exactly in the manner I was trained I would be ashamed of myself. The training lacked both in quantity, but especially in quality. I loved being told HOW to teach a brand new curriculum by people who had no experience doing so. They did show us a video for us to watch students “discover” math. Unfortunately, we were never shown a video that included high school students.

john konop

February 21st, 2011
7:08 pm

Veteran teacher, 2,

…..Tony is correct in his comments about the requirements for entrance into Technical Colleges. They are no longer for the marginally capapble students as a last resort. The technical colleges expect significant math fluency above the Algebra 2 level. Students will have to get that in high school or in remedial classes at the college level. A lot has changed in the last five years. Many of the comments about technical colleges are no longer valid….

In all due respect once again an emotional comment with no facts. Many majors do not require the math for beautician school, nurses aides, lawyers, writers…………

Elisabeth

February 21st, 2011
7:10 pm

I think that people need to be able to make change in their head, figure out the percent off and balance a checkbook. In other words…math for the regular person. As an adult going back to school who has take the damn algebra class TWICE and not passed ( an I will NEVER have to do that kind of math…..EVER) we need to look as getting kids all kids the basic. If you want more GREAT but not everone wants to be a math teacher.

Toto: Exposing naked body scanners...

February 21st, 2011
7:12 pm

I think we need to teach math that is genetically appropriate. There are different kinds of brains that are proficient at different kinds of thinking. The genetic Germans tend to have superior math/engineering minds. Curriculum that works for them is not necessarily appropriate for the visual/artistic brain. In my home school, I deal with both extremes. I use different methods and have different expectations for each. Of course a “math teacher” is going to admire a curriculum that suits his math/engineering brain. German schools do not have the diversity of gene pools that Americans have. After all, we are the “melting pot”. The only math that all students should be required to master is arithmetic. This gives them the skills to do the basic math required for living. IT IS VALUABLE BECAUSE IT IS PRACTICAL. K-3 should require MASTERY of math facts, mental math, telling time, and making change. After third grade, mastery of long division, fractions and factoring. Students who have had thorough and disciplined instruction in the arithmetic basics, and HAVE AN APTITUDE FOR HIGHER MATH, should be ready to start traditional Algebra I in 7th grade and complete Algebra ll in 8th. These students are probably interested in a STEM career, and can use their high school years to take advanced science and math classes, including joint enrollment. This is exactly what I did with one of mine. At 14, he scored 98% in math on his PSAT. My others have followed other paths because they do not have the same “engineering/math” brain. They are all good students, they just have different skill sets/interests and I have tailored their education to accommodate them. The artistic one thrives on geometry and has advanced knowledge of polyhedrons because he enjoys making them with origami. He doesn’t realize he is learning math. If he gets frustrated, I slow down the pace. Home schooling is the way to go.

john konop

February 21st, 2011
7:12 pm

… As for Mr. Konop, it’s clear he doesn’t read anything – it’s all his opinions…

In all due respect why not deal with fundamental issues I brought up instead of a personal attacks? The reason being is you have no real answers other than watch the train wreck!

David Sims

February 21st, 2011
7:16 pm

The integrated approach to teaching math is a bad idea. It introduces too many different concepts too soon for the typical student to synthesize into a unified facility with mathematics.

The strength of the traditional approach is that it teaches bundles of related concepts and leaves the synthesis for later, for after the student has mastered the skills in each bundle (e.g., geometry, algebra, trigonometry).

If the student goes on to college, he will again be introduced to concepts in bundles: limits, differential calculus, integral calculus, differential equations, vector calculus, transforms, tensors, etc. While he takes these more advanced math courses, he will have synthesized, or be synthesizing, what he learned in high school. In his later college years, he will synthesize the bundles of math skills he learned during his freshman and sophomore years.

After college, he’ll again synthesize what he learned of math during his junior and senior years. By the time he enters a scientific or technical profession, he’ll have welded all his math knowledge together and use every part of it as readily as he breathes air.

But synthesis is an added burden. When a student is struggling with related concepts within a bundle (e.g., how the axioms of Euclidean geometry lead to useful theorems), he shouldn’t be weighed down with having to synthesize geometry, trigonometry, and algebra. That can come later.

Of course, there are probably a few kids who can handle the integrated math approach. But having to synthesize skills on the fly will demand more of other kids than they might have to give.

Mike Honcho

February 21st, 2011
7:22 pm

Is it possible the some students just aren’t ready for algebra before 9th grade. MANY years ago, while in undergaduate classes, I reviewed an article about teaching algebra one in the eighth grade. The professor was adamant that brain studies show that many students simply aren’t capable of abstract mathematical thought prior to 9th grade (if then). Our current curriculum as well as the core curriculum emphasizes teaching algebra one topics prior to the 9th grade.

David Sims

February 21st, 2011
7:23 pm

Numerical analysis is a middle-level college math course that does require synthesis. In fact, synthesis is essentially what it’s all about. (Introduction of new skills: light. Synthesis of old skills: heavy.) Danby’s method and Runge-Kutta aren’t really a new skills. They’re new ways of using a pile of old skills.

justin

February 21st, 2011
7:34 pm

because it is waste of time with you…

Ole Guy

February 21st, 2011
7:44 pm

Mike, many kids may not be ready for algebra…or for that matter, any course of study…simply because they weren’t MADE ready, they were unfortunate to find themselves in an educational system which fails to set standards AND ENFORCE SAME.

This is where that infamous “CAN’T” comes from. When kids go out into the world, this is the first word which they rely upon… CAN’T!

john konop

February 21st, 2011
7:45 pm

Justin,

Forget I am here, and try dealing with facts. Without personal attacks do you have anything? I am betting not!

…. Math 123 makes the same mistake as President George W. Bush’s unpopular No Child Left Behind program: It’s unrealistic to ask all high school students to complete a college-prep curriculum. Some kids
would be better served by a strong vocational and/or technical option.

Math 123 also harms teacher morale. It’s not reasonable to call our math teachers failures because they cannot teach every student Math 123’s higher requirements.

Math 123 leaves Georgia with an oddball math curriculum compared to other states, which puts our kids at a disadvantage as they compete for college acceptance. It has also created a nightmare for students transferring in and out of Georgia public high schools. That’s because it’s very difficult to determine where a student who is part way through Math 123 belongs in the traditional structure. Finally, Math 123 does not track correctly with the math skills needed to complete science courses such as chemistry and physics. Thus, students now face topics in science before they’ve learned the underlying math…..

Common Sense Teacher

February 21st, 2011
8:05 pm

Old Guy: “Common Sense Teach, one needen’t be a math genius in order to pass (I didn’t say “make outstanding grades”…simply “PASS”) advanced arithmetic. It’s all about setting standards. Those very same standards apply in terms of behavioral expectations, academic achievement, the work place, and the mean ole world. If you wish to argue that, perhaps you are in the wrong profession.” I think you misunderstood my inference about math. Putting a 70 IQ into Math 4 is wrong. Will he learn something? Probably, if he doesn’t shut-down completely. Could he learn more in a more appropriate setting dealing with his abilities and every possible application, he should have that chance. Dummying-down should never be an option for any student. Higher standards should always be the goal, but saying that all students can learn all academic disciplines is naive. I have no need to validate my opinions to you. My opinions are just as valid as yours.

Bob

February 21st, 2011
8:20 pm

Learning math requires discipline. Unless a kid learns discipline from home, he or she will always struggle in math. Not until students have discipline or the like of, effort, perseverance, willingness to learn, will they even begin to be able to learn a discipline such as mathematics. Unfortunately, public schools teach little discipline; too much bureaucracy involved. That’s why it always falls back on the parent(s)/home life. And it starts early. If the parent(s) do not do it, then the elementary schools have to – period. Once they hit middle school or beyond, it’s usually too late, though we try and try again.

another comment

February 21st, 2011
8:34 pm

Why is Georgia the only State doing this Math 123, after New York and several other top 10 schools dismissed it 10 years ago. The major points everyone is missing all of the private schools are not teaching this crap. Where are your politicians sending thier students? Even the IB, AP and Honors students at my daughters school, have struggled with this math. They are just getting B’s at best in the on level class. With several kids who are in the IB program who have failed both Math 1 and Math 2. Now my daughter has gotten B’s both years, but it has totally screwed her 4.0 average. She has gotten A’s in all of her other classes every honor class, AP, IB . Including Chemistry, Biology, but not Math 1 or Math 2, she only ended up with an 84 and 86 in those classes. Something is wrong here. We know so many kids that have failed. Then her stupid principal fired 10 or the Math teachers last year like that was the solution. Nada.

oldtimer

February 21st, 2011
8:35 pm

Chuck, I too have a degree in history and multiple advanced degrees. I wish the elementary porgrams in math would really teach kids basic math. They cannot even use a ruler or count money. I also made my children memorize math facts…unheard of these days. Everyone needs a strong basic math!

Bruce Kendall

February 21st, 2011
8:49 pm

We fail to teach math to mastery in Elementary and Middle School. Yes I have researched the standards, and yes I have read the GA DoE definition of Mastery.

Another failure in preparing children for math instruction, is their non-fiction reading comprehension inability, and not teaching the, reading across the curriculum standards in all four core disciplines.

These failures were around before we changed the curriculum. The problem is not simply in how we package the math curriculum. While this change makes many of us uncomfortable, it is issues like the ones stated above, where we are failing in our responsibilities.

Until we address the reasons for generations of failure, it does not matter what math we teach. The first thing we need to do is stop making excuses.

PPP: The problem is complex to those that do not truly understand. Just like in math!

Veteran teacher, 2

February 21st, 2011
9:16 pm

Mr. Konop, please check out the admissions requirements to technical colleges. This is NOT an emotional arguement. Students are being told that they need the equivalent of Math 3 to be successful in their programs. One of the driving forces behind Math 1, 2, 3 was the technical colleges. I was in the meeting. I know.

Speaking of emotional arguements, I have never stated my preference for Math 1, 2, 3. In fact, I don’t think that either “traditional” or “integrated” in isolation will get it done with today’s kids. I find myself doing some of both to teach the students in my classes, and I find myself using different methods with the same subject in different class periods. Today’s kids have an attention span of about four minutes. Everyone who wants a return to the good old days will find that kids of 2011 have great difficulty learning that way.

Tony

February 21st, 2011
9:17 pm

John, I have read the Harvard report and I have read extensively regarding math curricula as I have worked on my dissertation. Thus, I am in fact speaking from my head. I must take exception to your remark about hurting kids. Having high expectations does not hurt kids. Having low expectations and making excuses does harm kids.

It is disheartening to read about teachers in elementary schools and middle schools who are expected to “expose” children to the curriculum. Your principals and central office leaders should be called out for that. Schools that do not provide adequate support for children to move to mastery are doing more harm than good.

In our school, I expect our classes to have 90 minutes everyday for math. In that time, we provide instruction on arithmetic and on conceptual development. It takes both to make sure kids are truly learning mathematics.

The leadership in Georgia should be faulted for the failure to properly implement the new math curriculum and for failing to clean up the gaps. The new Common Core standards are not going to shore up those weaknesses. (BTW – Common Core is only for Math and English/Language Arts, and science will soon be developed.)

Veteran teacher, 2

February 21st, 2011
9:20 pm

Oh, and by the way, the University System of Georgia recently set Math 1, 2, and 3 as the minimum math requirement for admission to any University System college. The University System was at the table for all phases of development of Math 1, 2, 3.

But, people, you have not seen anything until you see the Common Core!! The high school Math Standards in Common Core are MORE extensive than the current GPS! Check it out!

Lynn

February 21st, 2011
9:38 pm

Tony and Ole Guy – The results of this Math 1,2,3 experiment have shown that it is not the students or teachers who are at fault here. Throughout the state, students who do exceptionally well in other subjects are struggling and failing the Math 1,2,3 curriculum. Other states that offered this course realized their errors and eliminated this approach or made it optional. Georgia has failed these students. You don’t learn Math through Discovery and you don’t reinforce concepts by continually changing the Math discipline throughout a semester. Students on block schedules may have two weeks of algebra, two weeks of geometry and two weeks of stats. Then the cycle starts again. Those who are Math majors at the College level and above may be able to well with this approach, but the average and even advanced High School students do not.

As Another Comment stated, our best students are struggling. This indicates a problem with the system and not with the students or teachers. We as a state have failed the classes of 2012-2014. We have limited these students in what they will be able to accomplish in college and even which colleges will admit them. Our state should be ashamed.

justin

February 21st, 2011
9:51 pm

some questions just don’t deserve any serious response because they are so far off the mark – not based on any fact nor data. So, why waste time.

@ Lynn,

If “best students” are struggling, maybe whatever that was used to classify them as the “best” may have been at fault…

North Fulton Parent

February 21st, 2011
10:02 pm

The failures of the integrated math program were obvious when a whopping 40% percent of students failed the 8th grade math CRCT three years ago. Many of us watching the rollout of the new math standards begged the state to slow the high school implementation until elements of the program were fixed (holes in the curriculum, too much focus on “discovery”, poor teacher training… pick your poison), but the state blasted ahead anyway. Now those students are juniors and last year they posted a 48% failure rate on the Math II EOCT. That is the very definition of a “systemic failure”.
For any of you who want to argue that the standards are more rigorous, so of course the kids are struggling…. then show me a sizable increase on the Math SAT for this year’s juniors. If they don’t post that, your theory is CRAP! You’re hiding behind a “poor implementation” when in reality we pursued a garbage math program that was a proven failure three years ago when today’s high school students were in middle school.
But don’t worry, this battle has been decided by the downturn in the economy. Neither the state nor any of the counties have extra money to continue to remediate students in a math program that has failed right before our eyes. Sadly, the failure was written on the wall years ago and Kathy Cox and her minions at the DOE had too much hubris to see it for what it was. Would you like a side order of cognitive dissonance with your math program, Ms. Cox?

john konop

February 21st, 2011
10:08 pm

Tony,

In all due respect it is not about expectations it is aptitude. I happen to be very good at math and problem solving skills and because of my dyslexia not nearly as strong in my writing skills. Your one size fit all view of the word creates failures as the Harvard study indicated.

The difference between us is I have respect for people who have different skill sets than mine. The person, who fixes my car, does skilled labor on my house, cuts my hair…..in my opinion all have talents. An effective manager learns that putting people in the proper job which match their skill sets is major factor in running successful organization.

Ironically another study done by Harvard claimed c-level executives with dyslexia tended to be the mangers. Because they have the ability to appreciate other peoples skills and learned to trust and listen to other people to help them overcome their weaknesses ie managing people. If Kathy Cox had learned that skill set no way she would of rolled out this failed idea while ignoring all the issues people brought up.

Think about it.

old teach

February 21st, 2011
10:11 pm

Let’s review, shall we:
MATH 123 requires
1-All students to pass 1 and 2 at least–with no “out” before having some choice for 3 and 4.
2-Almost no grouping by ability (at least the traditional curriculum automatically places students in classes with others of somewhat similar ability. With the budget shortfalls many systems are facing, it is quite possible to have a MATH 1 class containing top 20%ers down to mainstreamed SPED students.
3-Small chance of success for graduating on time for students who do not pass MATH 1 and 2 on time (pending use of the support classes to allow them to get math credit)
4-The very real predicament of students who struggle with math having three hours of math daily for a semester for systems using the block schedule.
5-Transfers into Georgia to be placed into [at least] MATH 2 if a tenth grader, no matter what level math classes he/she took in the previous state’s school.

One of the main advantages of the traditional math curriculum was that it was easily tailored to students’ ability levels, by offering several entry points with differing degrees of rigor.

Lynn

February 21st, 2011
10:16 pm

@Justin – best students might be characterized by students who did very well in Math before Math 1,2,3 and who continue to do very well in AP, IB and Honors classes in all other subjects.

The high failure rate of both the EOCTs and the Math classes themselves demonstrate that it is not the students or the teachers. We don’t have this level of failure in other subjects. This isn’t subjective, it is fact. You might want to believe that this curriculum is better for our students, but the results are showing that we are failing our students.

2 cents

February 21st, 2011
10:21 pm

@all;

i think some may need to come back to reality;

can we all agree every student is their own person with certain talents (strengths and weakness in different areas).

over seas: students are tested and moved into basically a tech, polytech, or IB school. they do not use a one size fits all model.

let me put in its simplest form, GA’s one size fits all approach to education is like telling a kid in a wheel chair they have to get up and run a mile in 4 min. The childs legs not working doesnt matter they have to do it.

we know everyone has different physical abilities and accept them; doesnt ppl have different mental abilities? sure tough standards are great; i dont have a problem with that but we must accept the fact everyone is different.

madaboutmath

February 21st, 2011
10:28 pm

I thank God that my youngest child is a senior who missed this experiment. My niece, unfortunately, did not. She is a bright student who makes A’s and B’s in everything but math. She will not be able to attend a good college because of her dismal grades in math. I feel very confident in saying that the cause of her failure is the Math 123 program. I think what Georgia has done to these students is nothing less than criminal. The only people who have been helped are the tutoring services that only the wealthy can afford for their children.

john konop

February 21st, 2011
10:36 pm

Veteran teacher,

…..Mr. Konop, please check out the admissions requirements to technical colleges. This is NOT an emotional arguement. Students are being told that they need the equivalent of Math 3 to be successful in their programs. One of the driving forces behind Math 1, 2, 3 was the technical colleges. I was in the meeting. I know……

Fact no high level math requirements for law school:

Your ability to get into law school is, at any given school, based on seven things (law school requirements).
They are:
• Your LSAT score
• Your Undergraduate GPA
• Your Race
• Your Admissions Essays
• Your Letters of Recommendation
• Your Resume (this means everything else)
• Your string pulls
http://www.lawschoolrequirements.org/

More facts nurses aide, beautician school……all have requirements that are not above basic math skills. This is all public information please stop with the talking points and deal with reality. I am in the private sector and I think I have good feel for what skills are needed for many jobs. If have need for administrator I am focused on speed and accuracy of keying not high level math skills.

CDog

February 21st, 2011
10:50 pm

The problem is not the math curriculum. It is the one-track diploma. The math courses are fine, but requiring all students to take the same ones is not rational. Everyone is treated as if they are going to college. Not everyone is college-prep material and would be better served being given an opportunity to learn a skill or a trade.

hell in a hand basket

February 21st, 2011
11:11 pm

Thank God I’m not a teacher anymore.

Parents if you are diligent about working together with your child and teacher in their education, they WILL learn no matter the curriculum.

I would like to add this though. You have to have some apples to make an apple pie. If the intellect is not there to begin with sometimes it does not matter how the material is presented. Also, this should not be considered a bad thing. If we could perhaps allow some students to focus on improvements when they are of course trying their best, then maybe, just maybe, you may motivate them to want to succeed more.

That is all for now.

lovestoteach

February 21st, 2011
11:15 pm

I used to be one of those kids that hated math, so when I decided to change careers and go into elementary education I was determined to master it ( in order to teach it). I took an integrated algebra and geometry course that completely turned me around. When the algebra didn’t make sense, the geometry did. When I was able to graph algebraic equations with the aid of a graphing calculator, it made perfect sense to me. Classmates who were strong in algebra had a stronger understanding of geometry because of this integrated approach.

Mathematicians, and others that just love numbers, excel in traditionally taught courses. But what about the rest of us? The rest of us, no matter how disciplined, get by or flounder. It’s time non-educators and ALL educators realize if children can’t learn the way we teach, we should teach the way they learn.

I don’t have any expertise in high school matters, but my elementary school children do superbly with an integrated approach. And if Japan and Singapore do it, I’m going to do it!

mom2boys

February 21st, 2011
11:26 pm

I am not a math teacher and don’t have an opinion on the effectiveness of the Math 123 program over time. Perhaps if begun at the elementary level so that kids were prepared all the way through school, it might be an excellent program.

However, that did not happen for the class of 2012. As a parent of a junior, I have watched my son and many of his friends struggle for the last two and half years. Kids who excel in other classes are barely passing this math — and many are not passing at all.

I have no problem with introducing a challenging curriculum, and I firmly believe that all of Georgia’s programs need to become more challenging, but the introduction must be done correctly. You cannot take children who have been prepared for math one way and all of a sudden drop them into something completely different and expect them to succeed. They must be prepared from day one.

I am not qualified to judge the curriculum and I don’t blame the program or the teachers. I blame the idiots who implemented this program without sufficient preparation on the part of the teachers and the students. I blame the bureaucracy that exists in education. I blame Kathy Cox. I blame the Governor and the Georgia State Legislature for not making education a spending priority.

And I can’t say it any better than Lynn: “We as a state have failed the classes of 2012-2014. We have limited these students in what they will be able to accomplish in college and even which colleges will admit them. Our state should be ashamed.”

Our state should be ashamed. Because when all is said and done, anything you do at this point is of little help to the class of 2012. They are screwed. And that is shameful.

Political Mongrel

February 21st, 2011
11:33 pm

Math123 depends on kids who have come up under the modified elementary and middle school curricula. This should have been implimented over a 12 year period starting with the first grade and moving up year by year. It’s still a good idea and needs to be used, but you can’t stick students into the middle of it and expect it to work. But the old style method is proven to fail and needs to be dumped. But not this way.