Several of you contend that the Mathematics Curriculum Team at the University of Georgia and the Georgia Council of Supervisors of Mathematics don’t really know what it takes to teach math so their endorsement of integrated math – found on the blog today — should not be taken seriously. (Both groups do include people who teach math for a living.)
Now, here comes the Georgia Council of Teachers of Mathematics, which calls the integrated math approach “the most effective for the 21st century Georgia workforce.”
The council represents 3,000 math teachers. The council did not poll all its members, but its leadership strongly supports the integrated curriculum and many of of them were involved in its development.
I understand the criticisms of the state’s integrated math, but I think it is foolish to overlook the people in the field who support it. I attended one of the workshops held to develop the new standards back in the Cox era and it was full of math teachers from around the state. Teachers who do this everyday helped to create this curriculum. You can hate the outcome of their efforts, but you can’t maintain that no practitioners were involved.
I also want to address the comments about Georgia Tech professors needing to speak out. When the backlash against the new math began, I chatted with several of them who were baffled by the public commotion. They felt integrated math was not a revolution or fad but a different, more coherent packaging of the same material. They didn’t understand what people found so startling since they felt that it made perfect sense to integrate math principals since that’s how people use them.
That said, I did just get an e-mail from a math professor who raised some concerns. The professor wrote: “I have had no serious issues with the content of the math courses and I don’t have strong feelings about how course material is packaged.”
However, he faulted implementation, saying that there were no textbooks available at the roll out of the new curriculum. While there are textbooks now, he said they’re inadequate so teachers scramble for worksheets. Under the new math requirements, Georgia now expects all high school students to complete the equivalent of Algebra 2 to graduate, which seems unrealistic against the goal of improving the 35 percent drop-out rate, he says. He wonders about the purpose since he rarely uses algebra and trig outside his work.
Anywhere, here is the statement from the math teachers group:
The Executive Committee of the Georgia Council of Teachers of Mathematics enthusiastically supports Georgia’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards.
According to the DOE there is a 90% correlation between the present Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) and the CCSS, which shows Georgia was one of the states leading the way towards higher expectations in mathematics for all students. Our standards were developed within the GaDOE with input from a wide variety of stakeholders whose expertise ran from research in mathematics education to curriculum planning and implementation to classroom teaching.
It seems clear that our Georgia expertise is exceptional and has shown exemplary foresight into what mathematics students of the 21st century need to know and understand. As leaders who have been deeply involved in the reform effort of Georgia’s mathematics curriculum and as the representatives of more than 3,000 mathematics teachers, approximately 75% of whom are secondary mathematics teachers, we would like to also express our concern regarding recent developments in mathematics curriculum and instruction. The integrated approach to delivering the curriculum is the most effective for the 21st century Georgia workforce. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills supports 21st century readiness for all students.
Their description of an effective learning environment strongly supports the instruction environment centered around an authentic integrated curriculum that promotes higher order thinking skills.
For example, their website states that the 21st century learning environment should: Enable students to learn in relevant, real world 21st century contexts (e.g., through project -based or other applied work) Allow equitable access to quality learning tools, technologies and resources; Provide 21st century architectural and interior designs for group, team and individual learning. This and other research clearly support an integrated rather than a traditional model for teaching critical thinking involving mathematical concepts.
During these difficult economic times we must be good stewards of our mathematics education dollars. Two different methods of delivery will be very costly since texts, materials, state assessments, professional development, scheduling of classes and many other practical issues would cost taxpayers much more. Instead, our mathematics education dollars can be spent most wisely by fully supporting the delivery model that research supports, the integrated model.
We can do as a state what we have always done, but we as mathematics educators want to see Georgia’s mathematics students have the best possible opportunities to be prepared for the future. The traditional model may have been appropriate for previous generations but will no longer prepare our students for an ever-changing technological society.
Our students deserve better than that. Just like stronger rope is made by twisting together many strands of thread, the power and beauty of mathematics is better realized when all the NCTM strands are woven together to form a deeper and more complete picture of mathematics.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog