Math teacher: Whatever math is called, too much content, too little review.

Georgia math classes will now be following the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards, but it is not the traditional path of old.

Georgia math classes will now be following the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards, but it is not the traditional path of old.

A math teacher sent me this informative e-mail, which I am sharing with the author’s permission. In essence, the teacher reports that state school chief John Barge has been telling groups that Georgia will follow “traditional” math in its Common Core Georgia Performance Standards — the merger of our state curriculum with the new Common Core State Standards.

But the teacher cautions that the “traditional” math path should not be viewed as  “going back to” how math was taught in the past, and that integration remains.

And the teacher says the same problems with math remain.

(Here is an earlier Get Schooled blog on this issue.)

Here is the teacher’s note:

Dr. Barge has announced to various groups over the past two days that Georgia will follow the “traditional” path for the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards in High School Math. I am sure that the blog will light up yet again as word gets around.

Please, please, please do your best to write this (or talk with those that do) to accurately report that this is a re-ordering of the current GPS. About four total units are swapped around from the current “integrated” sequence, AND some topics are moved up from middle school GPS. There is even MORE content in the CCGPS.

Please do what you can to make sure that the phrase “go back to” is not a part of any blogs or articles from the AJC. The Common Core Georgia Performance Standards is not Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 of days gone by.

Statistics content is integrated into every CCGPS high school math class. Here are the titles and sequences as released to math teachers via superintendents today:

CCGPS Coordinate Algebra

CCGPS Analytic Geometry

CCGPS Advanced Algebra

CCGPS Pre-Calculus

Accelerated CCGPS Coordinate Algebra/Analytic Geometry A

Accelerated CCGPS Analytic Geometry B/Advanced Algebra

Accelerated CCGPS Pre-Calculus

The use of the terminology “Analytic Geometry” should clearly indicate that the content of the second course is not the traditional “Euclidian Geometry,” which is now largely taught in 8th grade. Analytic Geometry used to be taught in the second half of the traditional Algebra 2.

I no longer have any emotional attachment to any of the delivery models. I am tired of fighting and of hearing others fight. There is so little difference between the two traditional and integrated sequences as presented by Common Core, it is not even worth discussing.

The courses are all integrated in some way, at least in terms of what the word integrated has come to mean. I really pity those that think that the sequence of courses will solve all of the problems with math curriculum. I mean, really? How does the sequence of courses fix the very real problem that there is too much content to master every year?

How does the sequence of courses fix the very real problem that there is not any “review” of content in any year? Students are expected to know 100 percent of the content of the previous years courses so they can master the current year. Last time I looked, 70 percent is passing for a class, and around 50 percent is passing for a state test.

Both of those numbers are waaaaaay below 100 percent. If a student makes a 70 in a math class four years in a row, they will be significantly behind going into the fifth year class. Does anyone really think that every student receiving a high school diploma should have to pass Pre-Calculus?

Looks like to me the questions are all still there. However, I am sure that many people will applaud this sequence because the terminology seems to be close to “the way it was.”  Oh, and if any teachers were involved in this decision, I don’t know about it.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

124 comments Add your comment

William Casey

October 22nd, 2011
10:33 pm

No, every student graduating from high school doesn’t need pre-calculus. Only those going on to college.

Anonmom

October 22nd, 2011
11:27 pm

Then there’s the training issue… the curriculum can be the best thing since slice bread but if you aren’t going to train your teachers on how to teach it, and by”training your teachers” I mean really training the teachers so that they understand the integrated “new” math with their eyes closed — the math I’ve seen (which my youngest did well with in middle school) is very different from “traditional” math (multiplication doesn’t require carrying over to the next column- things are done across the page rather than down the page — there are other significant difference) — if the teacher’s “light bulb” to “get” the math doesn’t go off, I don’t think that there’s any way that the kids can really be expected to really ‘get’ the math, even if you can conquer the fact that an enormous percentage of the kids don’t know multiplication and division facts cold by 8th grade.

Digger

October 22nd, 2011
11:34 pm

Hard to train a pig to sing. The math ability of many teachers would stun you.

RAMZAD

October 22nd, 2011
11:45 pm

It is exactly this kind of thinking that has the United States crawling on the bottom in mathematics and science- below virtually all industrial countries and a few second world and even some Third World countries.

It seems like the things that we can not reach the competence to teach successfully we ponderously explain away. This teacher memo is one of those attempts to run like hell from what common sense calls us to overcome.

Pre-Calculus is a center column course to ANY career in science- academic or vocational. India, Taiwan, China, Malaysia, Germany, Finland, Indonesia and Brazil, countries that are eating our lunch
in international trade do not seem to believe that Pre-calculus should be apologized away. One the contrary these countries start Pre-calculus in middle school, because they realize that mathematics is not just a subject it is a culture. Fact is that these countries are busily using that mathematical culture to turn us into a third rate power.

Keep going; there is a bed in the poor house for each and every one of us.

I_teach

October 23rd, 2011
12:20 am

Teachers are NEVER consulted. The curriculum is INSANE. If you look at other countries who are “beating” us, you will see that they teach MUCH fewer concepts per year. They teach fewer, allowing the students to master them..and then build on that knowledge.

We will continue to sink until that is changed…..

Janet

October 23rd, 2011
2:46 am

I think I_teach nailed it! Students are not mastering the concepts before moving on to the next. Maybe we should start teaching these concepts in earlier grades but go slower to gain true mastery. I believe it would have helped me tremendously as someone on the “college prep” track but struggled (and that’s putting it lightly) with high level math. I made it thru high school and college, but it certainly was not pretty (mathmatically speaking). And as a result of having no mastery of the subject, I have forgotten all of it. Such a waste!

We keep asking ourselves why can’t American kids keep up? I think it’s difficult to compare American academics with Foreign countries (particularly Asian) because we always want to compare strictly academics to academics. But we have to take into account the cultural differences. Americans pride themselves having plenty of family time and free time just to be a kid. It has been my experience that people from other countires (Asians imparticular) do not place the same kind of importance on “fun time” or relaxation. Americans, even those who are highly educated and place high importance on education, do not push their kids in academics the same way other cultures do. So, although I know the schools can improve as there is always room for improvement, I can’t say for sure that I believe the school is fully to blame for the inability of American students to compete internationally in the field of mathmatics.

Wrong Premise

October 23rd, 2011
4:25 am

Most of the previous comments have started with the premise that
our students can’t ,or don’t compete with other countries in math.
The best way to compare countries is not based on international
math scores, but on the numbers of highly ranked STEM programs
in universities and graduates of those programs. It seems difficult to
argue that STEM programs in American universities (where most
of the students majoring in the fields were recruited from public and
private schools in the United States) are not competing with the
rest of the world. While there may be a shortage of young and
relatively inexpensive engineers,there are plenty of experienced
engineers looking for employment. There is a definite need for
advanced math skills,but the real focus is bringing down the cost
of labor in the engineering fields-shortages in fields usually mean
higher labor costs.

John Brown

October 23rd, 2011
4:29 am

This is why American chilren are further behind the rest of the world in education everyday. Teachers should make double what they do. You would get what you pay for then. Just like you do now. Priorities should be shifted from fighting wars to building our own country’s future by investing in true, diligent, conscientious education for our children that is not based on standardized tests, but actual, demonstrable skills, graded and verified by ETHICAL teachers, administrators, principals, and school boards. Teachers that have earned trust should have leeway. I went to South Gwinnett High School in Snellville and went on to earn a Math and Poli Sci degree from Northwestern University. I say that not to brag, but rather to say it is possible to have a strong math background in this state when the focus is on EDUCATION, and not petty politics, the self-esteem of the children, standardized tests, and the seemingly endless bickering, yammering, and corruption in the public schools in this state. Parents should parent. Let the teachers teach. Fire the bad teachers, and double the salaries of the good teachers.

John Brown

October 23rd, 2011
4:32 am

And I can’t even spell children without a typo…Ha!

mothers concerned

October 23rd, 2011
7:01 am

They move to fast trying to teach the students and mine still don’t get it. Slow it up and focus on the real problem our students are learning it. My son comes home everyday learning another step and hadn’t learn the last one yet!!!!!!!!!! :(

hoodtechie

October 23rd, 2011
7:40 am

As an engineering graduate I have always found that on any mathematical subject sometimes going over the chapter again also helps. I have found being taught by another teacher sometimes helps greatly who may have a different approach in teaching math. There were so many variables when teaching math and science that no one true way is correct. Some people learn math better by application some by theory.One of the biggest problems I found in learning math is that the instructors were all foreign with heavy accents. Try learning analytical geometry from someone from China, Russia or India. We need more teachers who can communicate effectively and explain many of the issues students are having a hard time with. How many parents can explain trigonometry to their kids and communicate with them effectively when a problem occurs, very, very few and now they want to bring in ipads to teach, please.We need to get back to the basics and enforce mathematical rules,that way it will be a lot easier to understand and apply.

Jack

October 23rd, 2011
7:44 am

If children were taught basic algebra, that is, how numbers behave when crossing the zero point both ways and how to deal confidently with fractions, percentages; it’d go a long way in preparing them for entry level jobs above the burger flipping kinds. There was a time when I could hire a temp out of a VOT program who could actually reconcile a bank statement without a computer. And some of them could determine the correct change at a register without seeing the transaction being shown on an LED.

reality 2

October 23rd, 2011
8:04 am

@ william casey,

I believe the fourth course in the ccss (ccgps) is meant to be for those students who are going into a stem field in college. The doe approved several (I think) alternative 4th year courses with the gps. I wonder what happen to those courses. Will they be approved as a 4th year math course (to satisfy the 4 year requirement)? And, will they approve teaching the 3 ccgps required courses in a 4-year schedule?

@ jack,

I sure hope algebra goes much beyond what you describe. What you describe is “pre-algebra” in old days.

@ hoodtechie,

The last time I checked, most HS teachers are still americans – it is in places like GA Tech where they don’t have enough american students to serve as TAs, which is another sign that our math education in this country isn’t doing enough.

sissyuga

October 23rd, 2011
8:23 am

Sounds like it is an inch deep and a mile wide-no time for real mastery.

GetAGripOnHOPE

October 23rd, 2011
8:41 am

Math is math is math — nothing is going to change that. Why do we keep trying to reinvent the wheel? They have taken so much content out of the curriculum. It is embarrassing at what is left to teach. What a joke!!!

reality 2

October 23rd, 2011
8:54 am

@ GetAGrip

Name specific contents that have been removed from the curriculum? Calculating square roots by hand? Determining trig values using the tables?

reality 2

October 23rd, 2011
8:58 am

@ Janet,

I am troubled by your characterization of Asian countries. I’m sorry but I don’t see too many American families enjoying family time today. Kids are playing computer games – many of which, by the way, come from Japan, an Asian country that easily outperforms us. This “cultural difference” is just an excuse for not doing well – actually more like not putting more efforts in.

reality 2

October 23rd, 2011
8:59 am

@ I_teach,

Asian countries may teach fewer topics per year – and they may even start schooling a year later than we do. However, we still somehow manage to get behind 1.5 to 2 years by the end of middle schools. So, figure that out.

Winnie

October 23rd, 2011
9:00 am

I graduated from high school in 1975 and am a nurse with a master’s degree. My daughters graduated from high school in 2002 and 2005. I was useless in helping them with their math. Even reading the book to “refresh” my memory, I was completely lost. I found it very illogical and the book did nothing to explain it. I felt very sorry for my kids. I’m not sure which “new” curriculum they were using. Evidently my daughters learned what they needed to because they both are college grads, one is working, the other in her last year of physical therapy school – though she got lots of math tutoring from her GA Tech grad boyfriend!

God Bless the Teacher!

October 23rd, 2011
9:15 am

@reality 2 (8:04AM) – many districts in the State (many rural) have to use teachers from abroad because they do not have the same applicant pool as the “preferred” districts. Also, there are not enough fully-certified teachers in some content areas coming out of college to fill empty slots. So yes, it is very possible to have teachers in K-12 whose accent is difficult to understand.

roughrider

October 23rd, 2011
9:16 am

Before graduating, each student should be proficient in reading, writing and basic math, no exceptions. Anything else should be offerred as an elective.

catlady

October 23rd, 2011
9:17 am

Not just no time for mastery–no WILL for mastery, either. Might require some of that rote memorization that is so awful. Instead, we will allow kids to “discover,” day after day, that 8+5=13, or, even worse, that 8+5=12! (We are not so good at counting on our fingers).

I am surprised that there is no comment today on the AJC’s story about the fabrications at the high school administrative level at APS–which folks on this blog have been saying for 4 years or more. Guess you just can’t trust that those teachers knew what they were talking about?

Anonmom

October 23rd, 2011
9:23 am

As I’ve posted on a previous thread, I’ve 3 sons who are only 5 years apart in age and they’ve been on 3 different GA math curriculums. Mass. has historically had one of the best math curriculums in the country — I don’t understand why my middle son and his peers (currently Juniors) had to be guinea pigs for this new curriculum which has been fabricated from Japan, Texas and South Carolina when other states have completely bailed on integrated math before we began it (go look at what NY did when their “privileged” kids started to fail their Regents test). So we pulled private and my high school kids are back in “traditional” math for high school.. the Junior in Analysis Honors and the freshman actually is in Algebra II Honors (much to my surprise — he was in Accelerated Math 1 in DCSS last year — none of his teachers or DCSS had figured out that he and his companions had had a full complement of both geometry and algebra I — no one in DCSS knows what the kids are learning from year to year… the very least that should be happeneing is a beginning and end of year test from the old EOCTs in algebra and geometry just to get a sense of where mastery and placement are and should be. In going through what has been happeining with math (and reading the “Tiger Mom” essay) and attending (a long time ago now) the Sagamore Hills math tournament — Asians “do” math differenently — they drill. My oldest (now a college sophomore engineering student) — drilled too — but that was lost from the curriculum after he went through DCSS. By 3rd grade (or before) the “drillers” know their math facts (the basics) cold — addition, then subtraction, then multiplication and then division. Once the child knows these math facts cold they move on to drilling other math facts — from square roots and squares and cubes etc. (my middle kid could do them in spanish in 1st grade — it was fun for him). These provide building blocks for the higher math. Our current curriculum does not seem to have this early “mastery” of these building blocks. It’s nonsense to expect kids to move into more advanced math (fractions, alegbra, proofs, formulas, sine, co-sine, tangents, matrixes, etc.) if they can’t do basic multiplication, division and fractions… you can’t learn “my dear anut sally” if you don’t have the basics down first. So you put the cart before the horse and you lose half the kids. If the curriculum pushes, doesn’t review, doesn’t allow for “rehab” for those who are behind, we’ll never get ahead. Then layer onto this that we’re “grading” teachers on the kids being at “point certain x” by the end of the year “or else” and it’s a recipe for disaster.

reality 2

October 23rd, 2011
9:38 am

@ Winnie,

If your daughters graduated in 2002 and 2005, please note that their “new” math program was the QCC, which was 20+ years old when it was replaced by the GPS. There has been no students who graduated who went through their K-12 years under the GPS – and now that we are switching to the CCGPS, there will not be one single students who actually went through the GPS completely. This year’s HS graduates (class of 2012) will be the first one to go through MS/HS under the GPS.

reality 2

October 23rd, 2011
9:39 am

@ God Bless,

Yes, such a program has existed for some time now. However, the number of “foreign” math teachers is very small – far from “all” techies were implying. His (her) comment applies mostly to colleges.

Martina

October 23rd, 2011
9:41 am

Mastery of basic skills is a problem with the math curriculum starting in the elementary grades. As a 3rd and now 4th grade teacher, we are getting children who haven’t spent enough time learning addition and subtraction facts, then we can’t spend the time on multiplication because we have pre-algebra, geometry (scalene, isosceles, equilateral, etc), and other higher level skills we MUST cover before testing. I know the push is to compete with other countries in math, but we are getting kids who can’t count without using their fingers in 5th grade!

reality 2

October 23rd, 2011
9:43 am

@ Anonmom,

Have you ever actually sat in an Asian math class? I have – only one country, but perhaps the most relevant one with respect to the GPS. Not all their math classes are drill. They do a lot of problem solving. They certainly expects students to do more – including sharing their answers on the board, whether they are correct or incorrect. They don’t worry about “self esteem” because incorrect answers are simply the reason they need to be attending schools. If they know the answers to all the problems,then they don’t belong in schools.

By the way, the GPS does have a mastery expectations – unfortunately, some people seem to have simply ignored them or misinterpreted them.

APS Rigor

October 23rd, 2011
9:45 am

Q: What do you get if you add two apples and three apples?
A: A high school math problem!

Mountain man

October 23rd, 2011
9:58 am

So I assume that all these math teachers have math degrees, correct?

And, yes, all the graduates of inner city high schools need pre-calculus. Otherwise, they can,t dig ditches or make change At Macdonalds.

Mountain man

October 23rd, 2011
10:05 am

Before we try to teach all our high school graduates pre-calculus, why don’t we first make sure they can add, subtract, multiply, and divide (without a calculator).

itsmyjob

October 23rd, 2011
10:23 am

I am at the beginning…1st grade. I am always behind the county’s pacing schedule. I am a firm believer that in order to be successful in Math, you have to understand and be able to manipulate numbers. We spend an entire year working with letters, building words and learning new words, but Math a new concept a week. Sometimes teachers need to stop the madness, take a stand primary teachers, we might be the ones the calculus teachers need to befriend. A silent underground movement…Occupy the classroom!

dekalb parent

October 23rd, 2011
10:23 am

The math teacher’s points are well made. I was excited when Barge said the state may return to more traditional courses but all they did was return to the traditional names of the courses. The actual courses are still very much integrated. Teaching multiple strands of math in an integrated fashion is not per se a problem. But it is a huge problem when the teachers did not learn that way and don’t have sufficient skills and training.

It is also a HUGE problem when other states and private schools do not use the same curriculum. In GA students can still not move from public to private or from out of state to Ga schools without losing a year of math. That is a serious problem.

reality 2

October 23rd, 2011
10:34 am

@ dekalb parent,

The fact that the standards are “integrated” doesn’t mean teachers must teach multiple strands integrated. They can spend 3 months on algebra, 3 months on geometry, and 3 months on statistics. They can make connections wherever they are appropriate. That’s, I hope, what all good math teachers have been doing all along.

Maureen Downey

October 23rd, 2011
10:42 am

@Itsmyjob, Speaking of “Occupy the classroom,” Nicholas Kristof of the NYT has a good column with that headline — the point of his column is that we should be demanding better preschool for low-income kids since the research shows a lasting impact.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/20/opinion/occupy-the-classroom.html?_r=1&ref=columnists

Maureen

Teacher2

October 23rd, 2011
11:29 am

@ itsmyjob

I agree the fast pacing in math begins in elementary school. It does not allow time for mastery. I also believe that some math concepts are too abstract and complex to teach to these early learners, especially when they cannot add single digit numbers. The problem of exposure rather than mastery of the previous grade level concepts just compound itself up to the high school level. The emphasis on testing is also the problem. Students are only taught what is on the test and strategies to find the right answer not to actually understand it. Thus, that is why high school graduates cannot give change without a cash register; the method of counting up to make change was not on the test (along with many other life skills!).

cobb mom of 4

October 23rd, 2011
12:09 pm

The kids need to have mastered basic math (+, -, *, /) by third grade before they go on to higher level math skills. Right now I am “tutoring” 3 2nd graders in the same classroom that don’t know their addition facts beyond 0. To see them stop and add on their fingers 2+1 or 3+3 is a sad situation. Out of a class of 20 students approximately 6 are at this level or slightly higher level. The rest of the class is doing regrouping addition and subtraction. This group cannot even add, let alone subtract. Why were they even allowed to go to second grade? These are not Special Ed students and they seem to be articulate. Students need to be grouped according to ability or perhaps changing classes for specific subjects so that they can be given the individual attention that is needed.

Parent and Teacher

October 23rd, 2011
12:10 pm

I_teach is correct. We teach toooooooo many concepts/standards without mastery. I am a kindergarten teacher in a title 1 school. My students come to me knowing nothing- I mean nothing. More than half can not tell you their real name. We have so many concepts to teach and very little time. IF we are not on our counties pacing guide – we, the teachers, get written up. THe countries I_teach talks about teaches for mastery. They teach the basic concepts and expand. We just throw it at them. It is insane! Many of my children are not ready for the standards, however, I do my best. I teach many how to eat with a fork at lunch- rather than shoving the food in their mouth with their fingers. Oh- I am considered a strong teacher- I receive the weakest kids without support because I work my bottom off and do whatever it takes. I have purchased curriculum in the past- can not afford that in today’s economic environment. Some of the companies have given me the needed materials on a trial basis. Please listen to the teachers. We do know what we are talking about- we are not all like the cheaters from APS. APS has strong, moral, non-cheaters also.

reality 2

October 23rd, 2011
1:01 pm

@ parent and teacher,

Have you seen the CCGPS? It moves REALLY slow in K-2. Multiplication is now in Grade 3. They do have fluency expectation at K, 1 and 2 for addition and subtraction. Of course, a consequence of this slow pace is Grade 3 on become rather packed. I don’t see why we cannot expect mastery of single digit addition (and related subtraction) by the end of Grade 2, and introduce multiplication in Grade 2 as they do now. There should be a fluency expectation for single-digit multiplication (and related division) by the end of Grade 3.

The key is, though, not drilling the basic facts. We need to help students develop strong number sense – the ability to look at the numbers flexibly. We want children to see 8 as 3 more than 5, 2 less than 10, double of 4, etc. Students with good number sense can handle basic calculation with no problem. Those children with difficulty usually don’t have good number sense. Kids count on their fingers because it is a reliable, perhaps slow from an adult’s perspective, method. When their teachers emphasizes the results, i.e., correctness of the answer, no wonder they will stick with the reliable method. They are not stupid.

Scott

October 23rd, 2011
1:30 pm

I know this is another verse of the same old song, but it bears repeating. Tightening the curriculum is like increasing the pressure to a pipe or hose. If the pipe or hose is faulty, the increase in pressure doesn’t really increase the throughput. However, to the attentive observer, this increase does help expose the leaks.

The “leaks” here are that students are not being held accountable to learn the curriculum. While we desperately do need to increase our math achievement, for which cause I support the goals of the new GPS curriculum, this cannot occur until the “leaks” are fixed.

A previous poster noted that when students squeak by with 70’s as grades and barely pass state tests only requiring a raw score of about 50% correct, a lack of review will lead to students falling further and further behind. But it is much worse than that. Many middle grade principals hold virtually no students back. Thanks to spineless administrators and parents in denial, students are sent on to high school despite their lack of preparation and subsequent failing CRCT scores, often over their math teachers’ recommendations.

Students that never passed a math class in their entire middle school career ended up at the high schools I’ve taught at. Mix these with the ones who squeaked by thanks to low expectations because the new curriculum is so “hard,” and we have a recipe for underachievement. Now throw in a general lack of remediation in high school, and a history of kids who have never been held accountable to study, learn, or master any of the previous content, and you can see why many Georgia students struggle to pass simple graduation tests that a 9th grader should be able to pass with flying colors.

Yet the solution is so simple. Don’t advance students who fail to submit their classwork and homework on time, or who show up unprepared for rigorous tests and quizzes. Don’t give students good grades because “they tried hard” but rather based on the depth of their understanding and ability to solve problems. Don’t advance students who fail to demonstrate mastery in testing. Increase the expected cut score and/or rigor of our tests so that they become reliable indicators of success in the next class.

By providing appropriate feedback of a student’s achievement, we put the onus on the student, where it belongs, and free the teacher to provide excellent and timely instruction on the areas students are ready to master. Sloppy study skills become rare because they simply “won’t fly” anymore. Students realize that failing to pay attention in class, or failing to study, will have a direct consequence… they will be held back. Graduating on time will mean something, because it was earned through diligent work.

Rearranging the order of the curriculum won’t accomplish very much (although I will note that Geometry will be much easier to teach together and not piecemeal). We should expect our students to know a lot of math before leaving high school. However, curriculum enforcement and assessment cannot wait for high school. We must agree as a state to carefully monitor student achievement and end social promotion.

It is time to get our heads out of the sand and begin facing the real math problems of Georgia. Passing the buck from grade to grade, or complaining about standardized testing and the order or breadth of topics, or rehashing a variety of excuses, won’t help. Expecting and enforcing student achievement at every stage of the process, and advancing students when and only when they have demonstrated readiness, will help us catch up with the rest of the nation, and the world, and bring an end to our stay at the bottom of the SAT spectrum.

Sk8ing Momma

October 23rd, 2011
1:47 pm

I am so *very* thankful that I homeschool and have the flexibility to choose my children’s curriculum. I’ve opted to use the mastery approach v. the spiral approach to math. The mastery approach has yielded great results for my students.

It is unfortunate that Georgia feels compelled to change every few years how math is taught. Frankly, I don’t get it. Since when has math changed??? I don’t recall arithmetic, algebra, geometry and calculus changing in my lifetime ~ or ever for that matter. Why can’t Georgia use a mastery approach and hold students accountable?, i.e. one doesn’t move on until the material is mastered. (Institute tracking if need be!) Seems simple to me!

mETFAN lOU

October 23rd, 2011
2:03 pm

Maybe just maybe we can focus a little more. Our kids can text, twitter, x box and bully other kids in school, but they can’t read, spell, and some schools even dropped teaching cursive writing. I have been out of school many years but I kn ow one thing, the NEA and all these teachers with all these fancy degrees prove nothing to me. You teach Arithmetic, Mathematics, Algebra, Geometry and the kids heading off to engineering schools take Trig and Calculus. This is how you get the most bang for your buck and seek out retired engineers who would like to teach math and get them in a classroom. Oops I forgot they don’t have teaching certificates. You don’t think the NEA has something to do with that? Some states spend upwards of 13 grand a year per pupil and most of it is money down a rathold with all the pc garbage that gets all the attention. What a waste!

JustTeach

October 23rd, 2011
2:26 pm

Most of the teachers who complain about Georgia’s new math standards are 1.) Simply resistant to change and innovations, or 2.) Not the experts in math and how to teach the subject that they probably should be.

Does GA’s math standards have its issues? Sure. Does that mean we shouldn’t give it a chance? Not at all. Before you allow someone to tell you this math is too difficult for most students, please step inside my classroom to see what my “support” students are actually capable of. (Not to mention a large majority of my students are a minority and economically disadvantaged.)

As a teacher, instead of complaining about this math (because the integrated approach isn’t going away anytime soon), I find it a much better use of my time figuring out how to better present and teach math to my students. Yes, there are issues. Yes, we can sit around and complain about those same issues. But, yes, we can also be the start and means to fix those issues as well.

Old Physics Teacher

October 23rd, 2011
2:29 pm

Once again the quote from Pogo fits: “We have met the enemy, and it is us!”

Henry

October 23rd, 2011
2:35 pm

My wife has been out of school for over 20 years. She recently was laid off from a company where she was a contractor. This has put a real toll on our family. We are living off of one small income to support our household and we have a small child. After her unemployement ran out and after not being able to find a job, she decided to go back to school to persue a career in nursing. She enrolled in GPC. After taking the compass exam she tested into learning support classes. As a result of that, she was placed in basic algebra.
My wife ran into a stumbling block that I find puzzling. The teacher that is teaching her basic algebra class rushed through the class as though she really didnt care if the students understood the subject matter or not. She would copy her lesson and problems from a handbook onto a board as though she was reading through the course with the class not actually teaching the subject matter effectively. Well, for someone that has been out of school for almost 20 years, that didnt seem like a effective teaching style. After seeing that she was failing the class and also learning that approx half the class was failing also, she started sending emails to the administration of the school in hopes that someone would take ownership of this issue before it got out of hand.
Now, the goal of the student should be to pass the class however, it can only be done if the teacher is willing and able to display an effective teaching method in their education of the students. To my wifes experience, her teacher has not been effective. There is no way that half the class would be confused and perplexed, failing the class and it not be a reflection of the teacher. After sending emails to the school administration to correct this, my wife noticed a change in the teachers style of teaching. She was more engaging and approachable, but by this late time in almost the middle of the class, it was too late, many in the class are already failing and the class was progressively moving on. This leads me to believe that these students were set up to fail. This is a vicious cycle of money making within a education administration that cares more about how many times they can get you to pay for repeat learning support classes than the education and well-being of the students.
I think the real issue is that some colleges are not ensuring that the instructors and professors have the skill level to teach students and professional adults that has been out of school for a while. Because of their lack of teaching skills, the burden lies with the student to find their own way through the course to pass the class the best way that they can.
My wife is in a situation that many countless others have fallen victim to. She went back to school and trusted in a educational system that is failing and has failed many other students in the state of georgia. Many students gave up and never spoke out because they felt that they did not have a voice. Well, my wife has decided to be the voice for all of the countless number of students that have fallen through the cracks by putting their trust in a broken educational system.
When addressing the issue with the school administration, the staff did not want to take any type of ownership of the issue. Numerous staff have said that most people that test into learning support classes will fail the first time anyway. That is what I do not understand. If a teacher is effective in their teaching style and method, students will learn and thrive. There is no accountability for the teachers. If half of the class is failing a subject, the issue cant be the students only, but some of the responsibility must remain with the educator.
I would like to speak with a reporter on this issue. I believe that my story can spark change and awareness to the tactics of a broken educational system. With the help of the media, we can start a healthy conversation to ensure that colleges take students seriously and take pride in educating many different students of many different age ranges. How many more people will decide to go back to school, get loans and have the school take their money only to fail them?
Its time for school systems to take ownership and give students a fair chance at education. You cannot employ teachers that do not have the best interest of the students. If I purchase a product, I expect it to be quality. I see that not all colleges have the best interest of the students at hand. And just because people test into learning support classes, they should not be treated any different from anyone else. These students take out loans to go to school. Not all students are getting a free ride from the government.
And those that may be thinking to themselves that these students that test into learning support classes are not college material should ask themselves this; Maybe not all people got a quality education in the State of Georgia. As you see from the APS cheating scandal. If you believe that APS was the only school system that cheated, you are insane! They were the system that got caught! So at the end of the day, Georgia has failed students in the area of Education for many years!

catlady

October 23rd, 2011
2:43 pm

Our math coach told us we have to “expose” the kids to the concepts in the GPS. (that way, when they see a problem on the CRCT, they can say, “H3ll if I know how to do it, but I have seen that before!”) : P

Our failures, as I see it: 1) not requiring mastery of basic math facts, 2) sending kids on who have not met the expectations for the grade, 3) not working enough on word problems (real life), 4) a math curriculum that is too broad in the lower grades.

catlady

October 23rd, 2011
2:52 pm

Henry, many students in LS have skills below 4th grade level. That is, for example, they cannot do operations with fractions and decimals. It is quite hard to teach algebra to students who by skills should be in elementary school.

Second, in college, it is up to the STUDENT to pursue help. That means going to the math lab, or getting a tutor, or meeting with the instructor for additional help outside of class. It is not the same as elementary school, and you don’t complain your way into understanding.

Now, I am not saying the instructor was right (or wrong). But your wife has to understand that her success in any college course is largely up to her and her effort and initiative. Perhaps she might consider going to your area adult learning center for additional, more basic help.

I wish her good luck in her endeavors. It will be a tough pull to get into nursing school–they are usually very selective.

Citizen

October 23rd, 2011
2:57 pm

Outside of engineering, programming, and risk management, are there really that many jobs that require advanced math? I keep hearing the argument that we need more math education, but nobody explains why.

Take some time

October 23rd, 2011
3:01 pm

Have any of you looked at the standards that are coming up with the common core? With many of the comments made on this blog, you obviously have not. Take the time to look at all of the standards, K- the high school math components. There are MANY differences, specifically more time given in elementary to gain mastery of the basic components of mathematics. The goal of the new standards is to streamline as well as make sure the standards are being taught at a more developmentally appropriate age.
By the way, training IS occurring across the state for the common core. Take the time to go the the DOE site, view what is there. Is it perfect? No, but it is better than what we were offered with the roll-out of the GPS. My district is working to insure teachers will be prepared come August to teach the common core, and I am excited with the upcoming changes.

Henry

October 23rd, 2011
3:05 pm

@catlady

My wife used all available resources such a learning lab and tutors. The teacher moved to rapidly through the subject matter with no care if the students understood or not. Half of the class was failing. And when we asked the teacher to slow down and expound on the subject matter, she wouldnt or could not.

My wife took ownership from day one. Tutors cannot take the place of the teacher. So, are you saying that in college, the teacher can do whatever they want and it is solely up to the students? Why would we need teachers if it were like that?

Also, if LS is a 4th grade level education, the system is surely broken and students should be able to sue to elementary and high school school system for negligence.

Henry

October 23rd, 2011
3:12 pm

@catlady

Thank you for your thoughts. There is a real problem with public education. I wish my parents had the money to put me in private school, as I am doing with my daughter. I also with my wifes parents did also. This educational system has really hurt alot of people. Not all people have resources to do other than public. And when we send them to public school, we are trusting that they are getting a quality education. I am very saddened by this. Many people never had a fair chance at a quality college education because they were cheated by elementary and high school teachers that passed them on to meet a quota.