UGA math team: Return to traditional math “inefficient, wasteful, and demoralizing”

The Mathematics Curriculum Team at the University of Georgia endorses the integrated math approach now in Georgia schools, calling it “typical in countries whose students are high achievers in mathematics. This approach to teaching mathematics enables students to understand connections among concepts from algebra, geometry, and data analysis, which, in turn, leads to effective problem solving and critical thinking.”

The team says that the state DOE’s plan to revert to traditional math “would be inefficient, wasteful, and demoralizing. Switching back to traditional courses would also indicate lack of vision on the part of our state and the inability to persevere through the implementation of true reform.”

Here is the full statement:

We, the Mathematics Curriculum Team at the University of Georgia, endorse the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) with great enthusiasm and anticipation. We applaud the GaDOE for the visionary progress of the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) and see the CCSS as an additional step forward. We suggest the full adoption of the CCSS over adapting the GPS to be aligned with CCSS. It is doubtful that a state-created blend of two different sets of standards would result in a well-designed set of standards.

Therefore, we hope that the use of “CCGPS” designates only that we will be in transition for a period of time. Using the language and enumeration of the national standards will help teachers in Georgia readily communicate and collaborate with other teachers across the nation and will also enable them to fully utilize CCSS national resources.

Today’s students must be prepared to enter a global workforce that is more competitive and challenging than that of previous generations. Toward that end, the CCSS specifies mathematical and statistical content that all students must learn in order to be ready for college and career. Achieve, a well known educational reform organization, and the CCSS mathematics writing team brought together experts to organize the CCSS into Model Course Pathways described in Appendix A of the CCS.

Two model pathways were created for high school mathematics: a traditional and an integrated pathway; however, only the integrated pathway presents connections among topics within a course in a way that preserves the key advances made through the GPS. This integrated pathway also lends itself well to the international benchmarks that will be developed according to the CCSS.

Integrated mathematics curricula are typical in countries whose students are high achievers in mathematics. This approach to teaching mathematics enables students to understand connections among concepts from algebra, geometry, and data analysis, which, in turn, leads to effective problem solving and critical thinking. Being able to reason both mathematically and statistically is essential for today’s citizens.

The Mathematics Curriculum Team strongly advocates for the CCSS Integrated Pathway Model. In response to an audit in 2001 showing the need for an overhaul of Georgia’s mathematics curriculum, extraordinary resources have been utilized in the transition from traditional courses in the Quality Core Curriculum (QCC) to the integrated approach in the GPS. The extensive training, the development of materials, and the tremendous work by teachers have established Georgia as a national leader in mathematics education.

Returning to the traditional model of separated subjects would be inefficient, wasteful, and demoralizing. Switching back to traditional courses would also indicate lack of vision on the part of our state and the inability to persevere through the implementation of true reform. In contrast, adoption of the CCSS Integrated Pathway Model would be a natural continuation of the extensive effort already exerted in Georgia in developing the GPS. Even with the adoption of the CCSS Integrated Pathway Model, much collaborative work needs to occur with respect to designing courses and assessments. Georgia is to be commended for the P-16 committees that characterized the creation and implementation of the GPS. Indeed, the number of people across organizations listed in the Georgia Performance Standards High School Mathematics Research and Resource Manual, compiled by the GaDOE in 2007 is impressive.

Postsecondary faculty from universities, colleges, and technical schools; math specialists from school districts, RESAs, the GaDOE, and professional organizations; and teachers from classrooms across the state worked side-by-side. We hope and trust that the state will continue to use this model of collaboration in every phase of CCSS implementation. To do so will provide the multiple perspectives needed to ensure an exemplary world-class curriculum. The Mathematics Curriculum Team is eager to join others across the state in these efforts.

The Mathematics Curriculum Team (MCT) at the University of Georgia is an interdisciplinary learning community that includes UGA faculty from the Departments of Mathematics, Statistics, and Mathematics Education; a UGA doctoral student from the Department of Educational Psychology; and mathematics educators from three different school districts.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

28 comments Add your comment

JacobLocke

February 22nd, 2011
8:37 am

Of course this would come from the Math department at UGAg. I never even knew they had a math department. I wonder what the Math faculty at Tech think about the so-called “New Math.”

Dave

February 22nd, 2011
8:40 am

UGAg needs a good math department. Who else will be able to count all those dead inbred dogs?

GTBJW

February 22nd, 2011
8:49 am

I believe this will be very effective in assisting rednecks in counting change for customers at McDonald’s as well as counting the number of wins that UGA has in football. Counting is very important. Those who still have all their fingers hold quite an advantage.

Dream on

February 22nd, 2011
8:54 am

The key words in this letter are: “Returning to the traditional model of separated subjects would be inefficient, wasteful, and demoralizing. Switching back to traditional courses would also indicate lack of vision on the part of our state and the inability to persevere through the implementation of true reform.”
Meaning…it would be embarrassing for Georgia to have to admit failure. I would also love to know which countries use this type of math instruction. At the parent/school board meeting held after the math was introduced in Fulton County, a broad spectrum of international parents from high achieving math countries were totally against this type of math instruction. This was a meeting by the way attracting huge numbers of parents who were protesting this new curriculum.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Learn Intelligence, Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: UGA math team: Return to traditional math “inefficient, wasteful, and demoralizing” http://bit.ly/f2NOMN [...]

Concerned Parent

February 22nd, 2011
9:46 am

When the college admission officials are looking at the applications for the classes of 2012-2014, will they say, “Oh, this student is from Georgia, where they took this new intergrated Math approach, so those grades of C’s-F’s are OK because they worked through a different program than the rest of the country” ….absolutely ridiculous!

Attentive Parent

February 22nd, 2011
9:48 am

Maureen-

This story needs to include the tens of millions of dollars paid directly to UGA’s College of Ed from CPTM and its renewal and indirectly through the USG’s participation in the PRISM grants.

Otherwise this blog is merely serving as a conduit for well-paid propaganda.

And Achieve-let me tell you about how they gamed the “internationally benchmarked” work originally so they could misrepresent to individual states that this was what other countries were doing.

Toto: Exposing naked body scanners...

February 22nd, 2011
9:53 am

LOL! A “math curriculum team” at UGA????
How about AT LEAST one from Georgia Tech?
I’ve already listed one of my home schooled student’s math accomplishments. He gained the solid foundation from the traditional methods. He commented that the “integrated math” was inferior because it jumped around too much and didn’t allow time for mastery of foundational topics. This is the child that scored 98th percentile on the PSAT at age 14. He has also already completed Chemistry (age 14), and is finishing his 9th grade year with Physics and Pre-calculus. He has been programming since 6th grade.

Wide awake

February 22nd, 2011
10:01 am

http://hrd.apecwiki.org/index.php/Mathematics_Standards_in_APEC_Economies

You can see the math standards from several countries there.

A lot of Asian countries have HS math that are not labeled “algebra,” “geometry,” instead they have math courses that deal with ideas from algebra, geometry, and statistics in each year.

Attentive Parent

February 22nd, 2011
10:15 am

Toto-

Be careful about Georgia Tech. That’s why it created CEISMC. It’s the partner for pushing the bad math and science ideas in the schools and keeps it segregated from the rest of the university. We hope.

Sandy

February 22nd, 2011
10:28 am

Our present education system does not always provide the challenges that can bring out the best from a student. Every American student has the capability to complete their school and hold postsecondary degrees. They have the expertise and talent; online tutoring services like tutorteddy.com helps to bring that out by providing them all essential helps at the most reasonable cost. There are many students in our country, who can’t continue with their studies due to lack of proper guidance and poor financial background. Some of them offer online math scholarship program to help deserving underprivileged American students learning math at free of cost.

Toto: Exposing naked body scanners...

February 22nd, 2011
11:10 am

@Attentive Parent
I’m not quite sure what you mean by “and keeps it segregated from the rest of the university.” Could you expand on that? I’m very interested. I appreciate your thoughtful posts.

Attentive Parent

February 22nd, 2011
11:58 am

CEISMC was the partner to the old Atlanta Systemic Initiative. CEISMC does the professional development activities and is part of PRISM 2.

I know individuals at Tech roll their eyes when it is mentioned. Paul Ohme was the director when Math 123 was rolled out and was very active in selling it around the state.

It’s also CEISMC that is part of the OMSI division of APS that is under contract with the state to prepare the math learning tasks and activities and CRCTs and EOCTs.

UGA VII

February 22nd, 2011
12:04 pm

I can count to dead. Yay!

Toto: Exposing naked body scanners...

February 22nd, 2011
1:50 pm

@Attentive Parent
Thanks. It will be interesting to track the 2012 Math 123 grads that get into Tech. Will they be prepared? Did they have to get additional tutoring to make it? Has Georgia Tech changed its methods/curriculum for teaching math recently, especially its freshman Calculus?

not the same at all

February 22nd, 2011
2:37 pm

The math curriculum team is from the College of Education. Please don’t tar the Math Department, whose graduates have a degree in Math with the same brush you paint the Math Education Department, whose graduates have a degree that does not include actual math, only “how to teach it.” I don’t think I have ever spoken to a real mathematician, engineer, architect, or statistician who thinks the “integrated math” is a good idea as a primary math education curriculum. Guess what, in those other countries, they DRILL in math for hours a day before they start “integrating” the concepts. When Georgia students spend their extra hour a day or more doing math drills, they too will be ready for “integrated math.”

FBT

February 22nd, 2011
2:38 pm

Who makes up the Mathematics Curriculum Team at UGA? It’s not just the folks in the math department, but they sure sound like an authoritative source on math education.

“MCT members feel that their greatest strength is the diversity of membership which includes UGA faculty from the Departments of Mathematics, Statistics, and Mathematics Education; a UGA doctoral student from the Department of Educational Psychology; and mathematics educators from three different school districts.”

Mostly education majors on the team. And did this team help develop the new math curriculum? Would they ever admit they got it wrong?

FBT

February 22nd, 2011
2:41 pm

@Not all the same-Great minds think alike!

My children are homeschooled and practice memory work every day and not this silly math de jour. They didn’t call it grammar school for nothing.

[...] 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 [...]

Math Rath

February 23rd, 2011
5:49 am

I just read M. Downey’s article on UGA’s position on integrated math education. As a UGA grad in Math Education with a graduate degree from Emory University (the other Atlanta university), I am disappointed with UGA’s statement. I supervise and advise math instruction in public schools and I can tell you without any equivocation that the integrated math instructional format is useless for the overwhelming majority of Georgia students. Having met many times with UGA Department of Education professors, I have no idea where this position emanates. I am amazed that such a conclusion was reached and know that it is inconsistent with some UGA’s teaching methods utilized in the math education area. One of the great impediments of the so-called integrated model, other than its foundational flaw, is the inadequate curriculum and unprepared public school instructors. The latter is not an insult, just a reality that for the intermediate term is insuperable. The more I write about this the more disgusted and frigtened I become for the future of public education. The fancy terms are rolled out with alphabet soup acronyms and the look really jazzy as a visionary solution when in fact the visionary aspect suffers from myopia.

Teacher Parent

February 23rd, 2011
4:08 pm

Before you push returning to traditional methodology, you should consider what is best for your children. Students who have learned in traditional math classrooms will not be able to keep up with those who have found success in the integrated math class. They will still be looking for the page number and the list of instructions, which probably will not exist, instead of understanding how to use all of their collective knowledge to find a solution to a problem. You are worried about low math grades that may affect admissions into better universities, like the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Emory, so you want the professionals to dumb down the expectations so that your children can make A’s. Have you considered encouraging your children to work harder? Have you given any thought to applauding the state’s efforts and the efforts of classroom teachers to provide better math instruction in order to have students who are capable of greater accomplishments in areas requiring math? Those of you who believe so strongly in home school and drill and grill may want to consider that the SAT does not require the kind of math expertise and the math think that is being taught in integrated math classes. It still tests the old way. What is going to happen when your children take tests that require the use of integrated math skills? Some of you may have children who are smart in spite of your efforts. Kids who are really intelligent seem to be able to integrate knowledge without instruction in doing so. Most kids do not fall into that category. In colleges a few years from now, there will primarily be two types of students. Those who have whiners as parents and who want the easy way will be in remedial math classes in our universities. Those with parents who want more for their children and who insist on excellence will be finding success at the college level. I can tell you which group I want my children to be included in. As a secondary note, those of you who are only fans of one team or another should probably stick to the sports blogs.

Attentive Parent

February 23rd, 2011
4:43 pm

What a condescending comment.

There seems to be a side of unfounded intellectual arrogance coming with too many education degrees these days.

Ole Guy

February 23rd, 2011
5:20 pm

MATH IS MATH IS MATH IS MATH! Have I lost anyone yet? It seems that all this crapin around is simply over the fact that KIDS SIMPLY CAN’T CUT IT (Have I thrown down the gauntlet of challenge?). Math has always been a spheroid buster since JC was a corporal. Somehow, kids from all generations have managed to get with the program, get a “holt” of the concept (if only to pass the damn test and move on), and, after 12 or so years, GRADUATE. Not to seem impatient of insensitive to the travails of others, but this nonesense is getting old. Once revered for grasping the mysteries of the computer at such early ages, kids are now proving their complete inability to grasp anything strange. Worse yet, the powers that be enable this ineptness by freting over “math this and math that”. For cryin out loud, people, STOP rubbing their fannies, shove the academic demands in their faces, demand results, and let them either thrive or die…meet the challenge, as every generation has, or drop by the wayside, as every generation has. ENOUGH!

The work place demands skills of all levels; right now, college bound kids, for the most part, have received nothing but a watered down education comensurate with the work force of a third world country, and that’s exactly where this great Country will be in a few short years if we continue to pretend to educate kids with a “where does it hurt” teaching style.

I can’t believe that (semi) educated powers that be have allowed this sorry state to have evolved.

High School: Algebra I & II, Plane/Solid G, Trig…there should be no choice in the matter…no crapin around, no “where does it hurt?”, and definitely no alternatives for non-college bound kids. The machine shop guy; the sheet metal guy need geometric and trig concepts, if not application skills just as much as the design engineer. So stop fooling yourselves with this two-tier business…college prep vs trade school prep programs. There should be ONE set of academic demands for ALL high school graduates. Nothing else will do.

HAVE I LOST ANYONE!

schoolteacher

February 25th, 2011
11:13 am

To “not the same at all” – I have been a high school math teacher for 35 years – and I don’t know what colleges you are referring to – but when I got my degree, a math ed degree, I took over 20 math class and about 6 education courses. Those were actual math classes! My daughter is a recent graduate – high school math teacher – and she also took over 20 rigorous math classes. In fact, her roommate, a math major who is not a statistician, had the majority of those classes with her – she just didn’t have to pick up the ed classes.

I consider us real mathematicians – and we happen to think the integrated math is a disaster also. As several stated above, the problem is that too much has to be covered for most students to learn it. And, believe it or not, most teachers do have the well-being of our students at heart. We would like to have a curriculum that would make productive citizens out of these children – for that, not everyone needs calculus.

your quote:
Please don’t tar the Math Department, whose graduates have a degree in Math with the same brush you paint the Math Education Department, whose graduates have a degree that does not include actual math, only “how to teach it.” I don’t think I have ever spoken to a real mathematician, engineer, architect, or statistician who thinks the “integrated math” is a good idea as a primary math education curriculum.

mathwonk

February 25th, 2011
11:26 am

It is very hard to have a substantive discussion at this level of generality without more factual data. I would suggest that in this case, inadequate planning for implementation was a big factor in the problems experienced, in addition to the inevitable turmoil of such a large change. I was told last year by some teachers that their districts adopted extremely poorly and hastily written textbooks in connection with the new GPS, simply because they were the only ones available at the time the change was mandated. Experienced textbook authors have told me it can take 10 years to prepare, test, and revise a really good book. Apparently nothing like this amount of preparation occurred in this case. Problems from adopting bad books can persist for several years. Hence abstract arguments over which approach is inherently better are almost irrelevant to the actual situation, although I tend to agree that one cannot easily integrate concepts not yet learned separately. Attempts to train teachers specifically to use a particular approach are to some extent also misguided, since a teacher who understands the math can teach it in any form. The UGA math ed department is widely recognized as one of the best in the nation, and the math department is also outstanding. With all respect, I do not think they should be blamed for this fiasco.

mathwonk

February 25th, 2011
1:00 pm

By the way, apparently even some professionals who stated privately last year that the way the state was handling the change to a new curriculum was ” a disaster in the making “, still support the principle of reform and believe now that persistence and improvement is preferable to wholesale retreat. It seems possible to me this could be correct, but it also seems it will require a lot of work and support to make it work well.

mathwonk

February 27th, 2011
3:23 pm

I have asked some professional educators and learned that some do believe the new GPS deserves a more thorough try out than has been so far done. Perhaps the point is that a return to the old way would mean doing nothing to improve our dismal status in math education in Georgia. They acknowledge serious problems in implementing the change successfully however, including lack of adequate new materials and texts, lack of adequate teacher training, and lack of appropriate modes of testing for the new standards. They also suggest the new higher standards may only be appropriate for a subset of students, perhaps those who aim for technical fields. Hence a “one size fits all” attitude, inherited from “no child left behind” poses another obstacle. Sadly, I see a possible repetition of the unsuccessful “new math” reform of the 1960’s which foundered on exactly the same issues. In fact in the 60’s there was one good feature not present this time, namely there were excellent pilot materials prepared by the experts, federally funded, and published by Yale, but they were not widely adopted. Rare copies of those materials still exist today and are still prized (but were not designed for the integrated approach). I still have some of them.

mathwonk

February 27th, 2011
4:28 pm

O boy. A little more research reveals that even among those who enthusiastically support “integrated” instruction, there is no consensus on what this even means. Some use these terms for integrated math with science, some for integrating pure math with applied math, and here in Georgia apparently it means integrating the instruction of different math subjects.

Here is a nice article by a home schooler who relates that some form of integration, kept her children interested:

http://www.homeedmag.com/INF/OH/oh_cc.math.html