Math: Getting in step with rest of country. Was this fling with integrated math doomed from the start?

As a math teacher told us earlier this week on the blog, Georgia is moving away from its experiment with integrated math in its adoption of the Common Core state standards.

What’s interesting to me is that the reasons cited in the AJC story today echo the initial objections to the switch by many parents — that Georgia was out of step with other states in its math program and that led to problems with transfers and even with college applications.

And, of course, there were those spikes in failure rates in some districts. Yet, other systems reported good results from teaching math in a more integrated fashion.

Could it be that the main problem with the math switch was that teachers were not trained?  There are folks at DOE who have told me that the money was not there for the depth of training that was necessary and that the rollout was undermined as a result.

In his post, the math teacher stressed that 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. So, parents will not be seeing a return to the math that they took in high school.

As he noted, “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..”

Here is an excerpt from the AJC story today:

State School Superintendent John Barge said a majority of the other Common Core states are planning next year to offer discrete math, a more traditional approach that largely focuses on a single discipline, such as algebra or geometry. It only makes sense that Georgia would do the same, he said.

“If we are not going to be in step with the rest of the country, why did we adopt the Common Core?” Barge said.

He stopped short of saying local school systems must switch to the more traditional method of teaching math. But he said school systems that continue with integrated math could find that “risky,” once states start testing on the Common Core.

Officials in several school districts — including Gwinnett and Cobb — said they’re already planning to teach traditional math in next year’s change-up to the Common Core, with a curriculum and, eventually, testing that’s similar across the states and allows for state-to-state comparisons.

Doug Goodwin, spokesman for Cobb County Schools, said Wednesday a recommendation will go before the local school board to move from a mix of integrated and traditional classes to strictly the traditional next year.

Gwinnett is preparing its teachers for a move in that direction, as well, said Dale Robbins, associate superintendent for teaching and learning.

“We want to teach our kids in the same way they will be assessed so they have a good opportunity to demonstrate proficiency at the end of their course experience,” Robbins said Wednesday.

Gwinnett, the state’s largest school system, stuck this year with integrated math, which was rolled out to the state’s ninth-graders in the 2008-2009 school year.

“We thought if we transitioned this past year in one direction, then transitioned with the Common Core, it might confuse our folks in a way that was unnecessary,” Robbins said.

Barge’s predecessor, state School Superintendent Kathy Cox, advocated the move to integrated math after years of criticism that the state’s math curriculum was too weak. Some school systems have said they spent millions on textbooks and training.

But there were persistent complaints that teachers were not adequately trained and students were struggling. Some parents said they were forced to hire private tutors for their children.

By early this year, Barge said integrated math was threatening on-time graduation for thousands of students. He proposed alternative courses to help struggling students get back on track and persuaded the state Board of Education to give school systems the choice of integrated math, the more traditional math or a combination of both.

Tom Ottinger, executive director of the Georgia Council of Teachers of Mathematics, called the move away from integrated math disappointing.

“They are abandoning something midstream that seems to be improving student performance,” Ottinger said. “It shows promise, but we haven’t had time to get definitive results.”

Dawson County School Superintendent Keith Porter said he was no fan of integrated math and welcomes the change.

“What is really frustrating is that we have spent tremendous resources to train teachers, spent substantial time in pulling additional resources to align with the integrated curriculum, and, subsequently, asked students to perform at high levels while the curriculum has been in flux,” he said. “Now, we begin the process over again.”

Susan Andrews, school superintendent in Muscogee County, said many students did well with the integrated approach. “But it was difficult to communicate to parents and out-of-state universities and hard on students moving in and out of state.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

152 comments Add your comment


October 27th, 2011
8:30 pm

Does anyone find the definitions for the two types of math extremely biased in this AJC article?

“* Integrated math: Math that is taught using a multidisciplinary approach that draws on concepts taught in algebra, geometry and statistics simultaneously to solve problems.

* Discrete math: Students learn one math topic at a time in depth to develop building blocks that help them comprehend the next level.”

I mean, you can be a fan or not a fan of integrated math, but this definition is terribly biased. Fail, Ms. Nancy Badertscher.

Veteran teacher, 2

October 27th, 2011
8:31 pm

Good Grief, Attentive Parent, I was not making a political statement, for crying out loud!! I was merely pointing out to the dozens of posters who think that the “integrated” GPS standards are ending and some magical new curriculum is coming in to solve all the problems that the topics under the so called “new” curriculum are almost the exact same topics as under the current GPS.

At no time did I state a preference or any buy-in for the GPS. For the record, regardless of any “standards” or other curricula that are thrust upon me, I teach math. Students assigned to me expected to learn content (I have gray hair, so I know what math content is!!), and they are expected to use said content to solve problems using real data. If they can’t rise to that challenge, they fail. I could care less about being labeled “hard.” I have taught students that went to Ivy League schools, Tech, and UGA. Almost all of them have done well in their math classes, and frankly report that the college classes were easier than my class.

To take it a step further, I know many, many other teachers who feel the same and teach the same way. If others do not meet your expectations, deal with them.

As for me, be it QCC, GPS, CCGPS, or any other alphabetical combination of perceived curricula letters you want to come up with, I am going to continue to teach math, REAL MATH, until I retire, which mercifully will only be a few years from now!!


October 27th, 2011
8:48 pm

Big Math. So much telling, so little selling. Ah yes, MATH. Critical for ten percent of the stuidens, useless for the rest. Your government at work.


October 27th, 2011
9:10 pm

Thanks for the good work, VT2!


October 27th, 2011
9:12 pm

A student who makes a minimum passing score on the 8th grade CRCT has math skills between a 4th and 5th grade level – and over 20% of our Georgia students can’t even meet that low bar.

Then we expect them to do “advanced” math in high school?

It’s not going to matter what we call the courses until we ensure that the students have the prerequisite skills to succeed in those courses.


October 27th, 2011
9:14 pm

I am an old, former college professor who has been employed in the education field since 1971 and I still teach online courses. Algebra, geometry, and statistics are distinct, unrelated subjects that should be taught separately, in my opinion, as I don’t see any point in trying to integrate unrelated subjects. I say this from the perspective of someone who earned a PhD in statistics in the mid-1970s and who has written five statistics books, in addition to having taught various types of math courses, including having taught algebra during the 1970s.

The focus should be not on trying to fit various subjects into a single course in an effort to try to empower students as much as possible, but rather trying to teach each subject as well as possible. In 1975, when I was still a graduate student, I was teaching a calculus course for business majors and I explained to the class that I was trying to teach them how to think, rather than just working problems on the board in a somewhat mechanical fashion. A student in the back of the room stated “We’ve never had to think before”. He wasn’t joking. (The school is a well-known research university, by the way.)

I often check out Amazon reviews of my books and one reader recently wrote in part “the discussion of some of the topics is challenging because the author aims at showing the reader the “why” along with the “how”. This is one of the strengths of the book”.

How many of us learned math by engaging in a lot of memorization rather than trying to truly understand the subject matter? Lori Heikes, the 1993 Wheeler High School valedictorian if I remember correctly and the daughter of a retired Georgia Tech professor, was quoted in the AJC as saying that we should move away from a system that emphasizes rote memorization. It has been almost 20 years since she said that, but have we done so?

Herman Chernoff is an 88 year-old, renowned, former statistics professor who is retired from Harvard. Almost 10 years ago he, interestingly enough, wrote a short (free) online book entitled
“Algebra I for Students Comfortable with Arithmetic”. (see ). He makes the following very important statements on the first page of Chapter 2: “I don’t recommend feats of memory in this text. Memorizing rules for solving problems is a way of avoiding understanding. Without understanding, great feats of memory are required to handle a limited class of problems, and there is no ability to handle new types of problems”.

Think about those words. I once told Herman that he and I may be just about the only ones who understand this. He replied that there are others, but I wonder how many others. If we focus on understanding, the relative performance of our grade school students in international competition, which is deplorable for a world leader, should certainly improve.


October 27th, 2011
9:16 pm

Only those students who “exceed” the standard on the 8th grade CRCT are truly able to do high school level math. That would be about 1/4 of our students last year.

Mufiican Jam

October 27th, 2011
11:20 pm

We have our kids in government school for the social aspects. They have to learn social skills. Before I throw this blanket out here, I know it’s the exception and not the rule but we ran into too many home school kids that were socially introverted and had no social skills with others their age. We work with our kids at home and also throw in some Kumon for good measure. That way they get the reps they need on a given topic and not just rush, rush so they can take a CRCT. Harcourt-Brace are the only ones that win with this system.

Truth in Moderation

October 28th, 2011
12:15 am

We have our kids in home school for the social aspects. They have to learn social skills. Before I throw this blanket out here, I know it’s the exception and not the rule but we ran into too many government schooled kids that were socially introverted and had no social or academic skills with others their age. Crude language and sexualized culture were the rule. We teach our kids at home and don’t waste our money on overpriced tutoring services. Our home school co-op provides plenty of qualified instruction in subjects we would rather not teach, and at a very affordable price. We aren’t slaves to mindless CRCT test prep. Our kids regularly score in the 95+ percentile on the ITBS, a NATIONALLY normed test. Government schools continually squander taxpayer money, most of which is borrowed at interest. If most of the population was “successfully” government schooled, why is our nation now $16+ trillion in debt and INSOLVENT? Harcourt-Brace types are the only ones that win with this government system.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

October 28th, 2011
2:56 am


Tell Truth to Power.

If only more of our colleagues had your moxey.

Huh, what can we do about that?


October 28th, 2011
6:53 am

Dr. Craig, if the same new Common Core tests are really used in every state that has agreed to use CCC, Georgians will be in for a sad awakening, because we’ll finally have something besides the NAEP (and the ITBS, which most Georgia schools have eliminated for “budget” purposes) with which to compare our achievement to that of other states.

Ole Guy

October 28th, 2011
6:57 am

Math Teacher brings up an interesting issue: On the surface , this integrated math concept seems pretty damn dumb, however, one has to wonder…just exactly to what depth of knowledge and application is the average high school student expected/required to demonstrate? I am quite certain many of my generational contemporaries can remember some of those problems which required some mental gymnastics in applied math disciplines. It was not enough to simply demonstrate a fleeting knowledge of numbers manipulations. Our trig studies ventured into areas of basic stress analysis, building (on paper) bridges; determining values (stresses) at each girder; the effects various angles would have on stability and weight-bearing capacities. Little did we know that these mental torture sessions were simply an introduction to one of the first engineering courses, statics, which, by the time we found ourselves in the relative freedom of college, would seem almost like childs’ play.

Our teachers were allowed to be tough on us; to introduce us to concepts far far beyond minimum standards. It probably would have been enough to simply memorize those sins/cosins, tans/cotans, etc. The very same standards were expected in the studies of algebra and plane/solid geometry.

So when I try to envision this integrated math bs, I have to wonder if the same standards of proficiency, which I had to master, are still the norm. Essential concepts in algebra, geometry, and trig can probably be congealed in a few lessons…IF (CAPITAL LETTERS/BOLD FACE PRINT…teachers are capable AND students have the discipline to absorb and digest the material. It could be done, but, quite frankly, I cannot envision the sense in this approach to learning math and, more importantly, learning to embrace mathematics. Whoever pooped out the very idea of this integrated business probably has no business in the world of education…but hey, that’s just Ole Guy noise…I’ve done my time in hell, now it’s another generations’ turn.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

October 28th, 2011
8:05 am


You and I know that “budgetary reasons” is really a code-word for “appallingly embarrassing scores when compared to national norms.”

When I think that our normed-score situation has been deliberately withheld from The People of Georgia by some of our self-serving educrats, my blood boils, I see red and I have to restrain myself from getting my pitchfork and cat-a-nine-tails and heading to The Twin Towers.

John and Mike, remember that I got your team’s back. I make no such promises regarding the backs of the other folks there, however.


October 28th, 2011
8:17 am

My thought is there were several things at play with integrated math. First was and still is the complete failure of the public education system. Given 13, and for some 14 years, a complete education cycle, to develop student knowledge and produce a functioning, calculating, literate human at graduation day has been a catastrophic adult leadership failure. From the men and women that sit in the big buildings in Atlanta to the DOE leaches that use false information in their press releases and continue to contribute nothing to the solution. To State Board along with all local Board of Education members and every association that survives only because of taxpayer dollars. Not one of these people, working by themselves or as a group, has a dog who can sit on command. And yet they lead the most expensive tax payer funded disaster on the planet? Sorry folks, I know all y’alls are all used to awards and accolades but today isn’t looking so good for even a pat on the back or an Atta-Boy/Girl.

Second indicator for high schools under NCLB was graduation rate. It appears as we approach the end of the program and states are asked to show their hand, someone was astute enough to realize there was a huge failure across the board but especially in math. So how do you fix a failure of the first 9 years of education? Easy, you shove 3 years of education down their throats at once. How Brilliant?

Being observant enough to see this too is a failure, they eliminate the High School Graduation Test which in turn removes the second indicator failure. Bring on EOC tests? Now we move on to Common Core which buys more time for the ever failing education system and they continue to lie to us as to student achievement through the many offices we allow them to occupy all the while failing at the task they are hired, appointed and paid to do. So who is to blame?

It’s Good Work If You Can Get It!

But have you no pride?


October 28th, 2011
8:33 am

It is just fascinating to see how this topic always result in 100+ posts right away. Everyone blames the new math program for everything. There are parents who can’t handle the fact that their children may just have to struggle in math no matter what. Then, there are those conspiracy theorists like JK and AP who just blow everything WAY out of proportion. Some believe changing the math program in HS will solve every ills of the society. Others can’t distinguish the issues of “curriculum” from “teaching.” You can teach an integrated math course in a traditional, lecture oriented format. You can teach a traditional math course with “productive struggles.”

My youngest happens to be in the first group of kids who went through the GPS (class of 2012), and he is doing fine, thank you. Was that because of the program? No, of course not. It was because he studied hard. Would he have succeeded in the old program. I suspect so. Would he have done better in the old system? Who knows, but I am happy with his understanding of mathematics.

John Barge is just a politician who don’t understand the need of mathematics nor the need of schools. He was so stupid to allow school districts to choose their programs this school year – and the decision was made VERY late – after most systems have already made the schedules for their students. Then, he is suggesting to change it again – I suppose since not enough districts went in the direction he wanted them to go. I honestly don’t care whether GA goes with the traditional packaging or “international” packaging of standards. He should have said last year that HS programs will be re-evaluated in time for the implementation of the Common Core. He should have also waited the implementation of the CC until 2014, or at least till 2013. With a careful planning, it would have been possible to adjust the courses in such a way that once the CC is implemented, there will be a single program instead of having 3 different programs existing in HS for the next couple of years. I’m sure he is not the one that came up with these names for the new courses, but I have never heard of “coordinate algebra.” Moreover, the phrase “discrete math” is so wrong as discrete math is a sub-field of mathematics that has nothing to do with HS mathematics – some topics in HS math can be considered as topics in discrete mathematics, but discrete math isn’t in general about algebra or calculus.

Anyway, 4 years from now, we will be criticizing the new “new” math program, and people like JK and AP will continue to criticize, “see, I told you so.”

John Konop

October 28th, 2011
9:30 am


…., there are those conspiracy theorists like JK and AP who just blow everything WAY out of proportion. Some believe changing the math program in HS will solve every ills of the society…..

The Katy Cox crowd really has the spin machine on. Let’s look at your record while in control:

1) Destroyed vocational education and used creative math to cover up drop-out rates
2) Passed out waivers after failed new programs like pizza coupons
3) Claimed no problem with cheating scandal
4) Even after cheating test scores not looking good

I could go on and on…….Seriously the track record is….Do you even buy your BS?

Attentive Parent

October 28th, 2011
9:54 am

Wow- a conspiracy theorist is someone who asserts there is a conspiracy without any proof of a coordinated effort. When I have been asked for proof of any of my assertions I have provided it and explained my reasoning.

If a group of people work together on a project that would not get majority support and lies about what they are doing, especially if they are taking our tax money to boot, they do not get a free pass if caught by someone like me who can pierce the veil of a plausible but false explanation in a heartbeat.

Call it a coordinated cabal if it makes you feel more at ease but this site on this topic has proved the extent of the coordinated effort by the speed with which the linked support gets taken off of university servers. That Charles Kutal sppech in DC bragging about what Jan Kettlewell had done to coerce USG presidents to get her gag rule was off the University of Kentucky’s server within the hour. The same for Brad Findell’s letter on behalf of certain UGA faculty to Kathy Cox on what a disaster the new integrated math was going to be and how at least Ga should use the NSF textbboks like Investigations and Connected Math that they had received a grant to push. Off it went from Southern Tech’s server.

If Veteran Teacher wants to teach math still, she and her students are who I am fighting for. I understand the definition of effective teaching under common core and how it is designed to finally get around the close the door and teach content implementation problem the Rand Change Agent study diagnosed. Linda Darling Hammond devoted the last 20 years to designing a way around that. And I understand just what she is up to because I have read and listened to what she and others say.

I think this is political because that is what the advocates say it is about.

Georgia became the lab for the experiment and it is the place where the schemers will get caught.


October 28th, 2011
10:01 am

One things we can count on about conspiracy theorists is their passion. Of course, in exchange, they seem to loose every rationality… There just isn’t any point arguing with them. I am just making an objective observation.

To madaboutmoutn from Good Mother

October 28th, 2011
10:44 am

No, I am not an expert on how to teach integrated math. The truth is obvious, though, that one must understand all the “maths” in order to teach integrated math.

Now think about who are the teachers in Georgia, the students in Georgia. Those students are barely passing math. Those who excel at math and know it “inside and out” are those who become math majors — and go into a field that requires math. Students who excel at math rarely go into teaching.

Teaching jobs are mostly filled by students who enjoy or are “better” at English language arts. That’s why it is very easy to fill a kindergarten teacher slot and much more difficult to find a high school analysis teacher.

You’ve heard, likely, that some science and math majors are promised a free or reduced price education if they teach for a while, three years I think that was the case.

We need to do more of that and do better than that. I believe we should provide a higher pay scale for those teachers who can really teach high level high school math courses.

Some of the comments here regarding what math is “needed” to perform one’s job is putting the cart before the horse. There are a lot of jobs in the U.S. that do not require higher math BECAUSE there aren’t enough people who CAN do higher math. I help to employ those who can do higher math, and many are Indian and Asian. My industry also exports jobs overseas because there is a huge pool of people in foreign countries who CAN do higher math.

If we want higher paying jobs in the United States, real jobs, we need to produce an educated work force who can do higher math as a rule, not an exception.

A highly educated nation is a properous nation and we can’t be a highly educated nation if our teachers aren’t able to do higher math.

I’m sure everyone would agree that in this nation, people who can do higher math well, do not go into the teaching profession. I advocate paying more for those people who can do higher math AND teach it well.

something else

October 28th, 2011
10:53 am

@ Wow,

Another thing you can count on is their verboseness.

John Konop

October 28th, 2011
10:54 am


You guys are great at avoiding facts and attacking the messenger. As many pointed out, even people who supported your concept that your lack of listening and dealing with real feed-back on issues doomed your idea. And if you read my criticism from the start it was mainly about the lack of basic QC processes protocol that the Cox team ignored and or was not trained on. This failed process falls on the leadership ie Kathy Cox team! In the business world you learn implementation is more important than the actual idea. A successful business person will tell you that you can take an average idea and have success via proper implementation and you can take the best idea and screw it up via implementation. Think about it?

Traditional Math Fan

October 28th, 2011
11:56 am

@ Wow and Something Else,
The state of GA is counting on your gullibility. I’ve seen the damning evidence Attentive Parent speaks about and I’ve talked to many professors behind the scenes. I have even spoken with DOE numerous times and felt I needed to take a shower afterward. You can denigrate the messenger all you want; the message will not change. Students are being shortchanged by this crappy curriculum. Saying it isn’t so won’t make it go away.

Parents that give half a damn need to supplement their kids math education. I’ve been doing it for years and I will continue until we either move out of state or my kids graduate, whichever comes first.


October 28th, 2011
1:17 pm

OK, all you folk who take offense at the “conspiracy theory” label, what are the rest of us, whose kids have been learning math pretty well at school, supposed to make of your claims? Please don’t tell me I don’t understand math (I do) or that I don’t understand how poorly my poor kid is doing by real world standards. My “poor kid” scored 790 on the SAT math after being in Math 123 starting in 6th grade.

I can understand that it’s upsetting to be called a conspiracy theorist, but really, some of the claims by some of you just don’t seem rational or explicable. Why on earth would this country’s educational elites be deliberately setting out to prevent young Americans from learning math? I can understand and don’t mind posts to the effect that some reforms like Math 123 might well intentioned but misguided, or misimplemented, etc. There’s undoubtedly at least some truth in that. But some of you claim that the schools, or their masters, are deliberately setting out to prevent our children from learning math. Come on! What would be the motivation for this craziness? And gosh, if that’s the objective, they’re not making a very good job of it. Real math teachers like Veteran Teacher 2 seem to abound in East Cobb. Apparently nobody has shown up yet to reprogram their brains, or whatever it is that you think is supposed to be going on.

John Konop

October 28th, 2011
2:12 pm

……………But some of you claim that the schools, or their masters, are deliberately setting out to prevent our children from learning math…………..

I have written numerous articles that have been published at numerous newspapers across the state on this topic. I challenge you to find anything I have written on the topic claiming what you wrote. My issues with math 123 have been focused on the lack of a clear thought-out plan to deal with one size fit all approach that would leave vocational and non math oriented students behind, an odd-ball curriculum that still has no answer how to deal with kids transferring in and out of the system, blaming teachers on ill thought implementation plan and a curriculum that does not match the current university system making it difficult for kids applying for college especially out of state. I have pointed out the following problems pre-implementation as well during the failed roll-out. And through the years NO ONE from the Kathy Cox crowd would ever deal with the above concerns. And I know that many people from inside the system as well as many parents had the same concerns.

……..My “poor kid” scored 790 on the SAT math after being in Math 123 starting in 6th grade……..

The system failed on a macro, if you are advocating a math program you should understand micro examples are irrelevant as a testing means of success or failure. You should be very proud your kid is an exellent math student. But that has nothing to do with the problems in this failed implementation of an ill thought out plan by KATHY COX and company.

Jerry Eads

October 28th, 2011
3:04 pm

Craig & ST671, an alternative hypothesis on the elimination of NRTs: The cost of administering and scoring the ITBS or any of the other major national tests was minimal compared to the cost of building new minimum competency tests (e.g., CRCT) each year. AND, the importance of comparing average scores paled against the race to get as many low-performing kids as possible to pass the minimum competency tests. As noted extensively in the lit, this was at the expense of teaching the kids who could pass the tests with their eyes closed, so as schools were forced to focus on the low performance levels required by “high standards” minimum competency tests, of course the overall average performance fell with the absence of strong instruction to the high performers (yes, an overstatement, but relatively speaking seems to be the case).

Thanks for the above, John K.. As an aside, the phenomenon of lowering performance goes far beyond this one state and the impact of one administration. We’ve been at this for over 30 years. Fixing it, should the CCC be a reasonable attempt, will not happen overnight.

HS Math Teacher

October 28th, 2011
7:19 pm

“Math: Getting in step with rest of country. Was this fling with integrated math doomed from the start?”

Well, if we’re trying to get in step with the rest of the country, we should have been doing exactly what the rest of the country was, and is doing.

Anytime you ignore your base (teachers), listen to too many eggheads, and move away from common sense, your program will go down in flames. So, yes…it was doomed from the start.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

October 29th, 2011
4:09 am

Jerry Eads,

You’re correct: We didn’t get in this fix overnight so we won’t get out overnight. But your comments, based upon your perspective as a former insider in the educracy’s testing apparatus, will surely add credibility and urgency to the reform process.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

October 29th, 2011
4:13 am


Do you plan to attend the AJC Education event scheduled for next week and the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education’s(GPEE) quarterly meeting slated for 11/15?


October 29th, 2011
9:50 am

@JK, I didn’t name you (or anyone) specifically as a conspiracy theorist, and certainly your most recent comments don’t read that way in the least. (I have not gone and researched any old posts). My comments on conspiracy theorists were just in support of the observation that some comments (not necessarily yours) do tend to invite that label.

I agree with your comments on micro versus macro. I was just citing my own family experience as a counter example to exaggerated claims (probably not yours) that integrated math failed all students all the time.

Parent of Senior in GCPS

October 29th, 2011
10:17 am

I’m glad to hear this curriculum is on it’s way out. Unfortunately, it won’t help my senior who has been struggling in highschool math since 9th grade. He started highschool when this math curriculum came into play. Prior to highschool, he excelled in math testing. He was placed in TAG courses for all subjects since 3rd grade. We moved to GA when he started 4th grade. The educational environment is GA is significantly subpar. Nowhere’s perfect, but there’s a lot of better places out there to be. I didn’t want to uproot him again and I regret that decision.

As for the curriculum, it needs to be booted out the door ASAP. The teachers can’t handle it, the textbooks are dismal for self-review/self-teaching, and overall, it’s just not working out. For my son, I am researching “whirlwind tour” type of math guides that are targeted toward older adults returning to college. I believe that help him recover from this experience by filling in many holes, while helping him build confidence in his math abillities. Fortunately, there’s a few highly recommended guides out there, some written in a more casual (fun) manner and some computer based.

Someone mentioned the lack of drill. That was a problem in previous state, too. The teachers recognized and explained that to parents early on. They provided supplemental materials to use at home to practice those math facts. So, like I said, nothing’s perfect, but how those imperfections are handled, that’s the real indicator of a quality environment, in my opinion.


October 29th, 2011
1:01 pm

AJinCobb & WOW

What schools have your children attended?


October 29th, 2011
4:51 pm

As a high school math teacher, I am still concerned about the implementation of these new common core standards. I don’t care what you call the class–Math 3 or Advanced Algebra or whatever, some kids are STILL not going to be ready (perhaps NEVER ready) to take such a class. What are the plans for those kids? different diploma types? I hope so!!!! I teach the Math 3 Support kids and Math 3 and most of the kids in my classes are not really college material–and there is nothing wrong with that!!!


October 29th, 2011
4:56 pm

oh, and my third grader has learned/memorized all of his multiplication tables as did my older daughter when she was in elem school. I think elem teachers are doing a good job (at least in our system). I do think as the students reach middle and high school, there may be some disconnect about how to teach math so that the students understand the concept. Teachers still must TEACH the kids how to work problems—throwing a performance task at them is a ridiculous way to teach.


October 29th, 2011
7:37 pm

Jerry Eads, “As noted extensively in the lit, this was at the expense of teaching the kids who could pass the tests with their eyes closed, so as schools were forced to focus on the low performance levels required by “high standards” minimum competency tests, of course the overall average performance fell with the absence of strong instruction to the high performers”

Didn’t know there was a body of research to support it, but that certainly matches what I’ve seen anecdotally.

It also seems that the students worked a little bit harder for the first year or two, until they figured out that they would actually be promoted whether they passed the CRCT or not. They still haven’t figured out that there’s no committee at the high school level, though.

Ole Guy

October 30th, 2011
10:31 am

Upon reaching my 5th grade classroom, one of my first objectives was to assess the troops’ math skills. Administering some problems, STRAIGHT OUT OF THE BOOK, which they had (ostensibly) already covered, I was somewhat chagrined to see so many failures and low grades…certainly not indicative of subject mastery. Noting the grades from the previous tests on the same material, I saw nothing but “A”s. Being a novice teacher, I immediately suspected my teaching technique to be in question. Asking their regular teacher…a recipient of all flavors of teacher accolades…about this apparent discrepancy, I was told “I give them credit for trying”. I replyed, “Enough credit to go from apparent failure to letter grade “A”?

Needless to say, my sojourn into the teaching domain was somewhat abreviated…I can teach DISCIPLINED kids to fly airplanes, but teaching completely undisciplined kids, who have, throughout their entire lives been handed everything (including excellent, though unearned grades) is, and always will be, A LOSING PROPOSITION and AN UTTER AND COMPLETE WASTE OF PUBLIC RESOURCES.

To simply attribute this educational state to the tired ole “poor parenting” song and dance is a copout and pure folly. TO HELL WITH WHAT PARENTS WANT! If the kid flunks, the kid gets a flunking grade. Given their own devices, no teacher in the world, much less the educational backwaters of Georgia, would award a kid an undeserved grade UNLESS there was undue pressure from parents and administrators. So ONCE AGAIN…GET THE HELL OFF TEACHERS’ BACKS; let em’ teach these stupid kids AS THEY SEE FIT.


October 30th, 2011
1:48 pm

The most ridiculous teaching standard ever to be implemented. Idiotic plan by an idiotic board and Super. It’s about as bad as the A/B schedule in Middle School. One week you have science on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the next week Tuesday and Thursday. Stupidity.


October 30th, 2011
3:46 pm

Don’t blame integrated math. This is just another example of “dumbed down” students with even dumber parents not having a clue. Remember, this is Jawja we’re talking about.


October 30th, 2011
4:36 pm

It is a shame our educators could not implement this correctly. Integrated Math is a GOOD thing. The old methods of teaching different math disciplines in silo’s do little to promote true understanding and help explain whay the USA lags behind other nations in education.


October 30th, 2011
5:38 pm

It took till the FOURTH paragraph before teachers were blamed! They weren’t ready!

I’m willing to bet that the systems that had good results with the integrated math are higher SES systems, or have solid pockets of schools with higher SES students. I bet systems with one high school and 70% free lunch were NOT those with good results.

For one thing, there probably are not a dozen kids in my system (75% free lunch) getting tutored. For another, if your system pays lip service to high expectations but you can count on one hand the number of kids held back in a school of 1200, you can be sure there are excuses made instead of high expectations OF STUDENTS expected. When you have fifth graders who have to count 4+5 on their fingers (and get it WRONG sometimes) and they are sent on to sixth grade, you can be sure they will not be ready for any kind of “integrated math”, unless you are talking about black numbers on a white page!


October 30th, 2011
5:58 pm

” Could it be that the main problem with the math switch was that teachers were not trained? ”

The problem is that Georgia has a high percentage of students who are not motivated to learn.The few that do try are accused of ” acting white.”


October 30th, 2011
6:17 pm

Education has more Phd’s than any field in this country. That number is much higher now than it was 30 years ago. If we have so many highly trained people in this profession, why is our education system worse now than it was 30 years ago, and it seems to be getting even worse? To top it off, educators get paid more based on the amount of education they have.

Mike In Woodstock

October 30th, 2011
6:46 pm

Nice! This little experiment began when my daughter was in middle school and will end just as she graduates! Thanks a lot Kathy Cox!


October 30th, 2011
6:58 pm

Seems like we just keep trying to find some magic trick that will let us “teach” math (or anything else) without having to invest in training qualified teachers and giving them reasonable class sizes and the administrative support necessary for them to actually teach. No whiz-bang (or traditional) curriculum can replace interaction of a student with teachers and other students. And yes, textbooks are absolutely necessary.

teacher and parent

October 30th, 2011
7:59 pm

Integrated math has been a nightmare from the start. As a parent of a high school student and a teacher, I was blown away that at the high school informational meeting a month prior to school starting, teachers had not been trained. My son, as well as 40% of the students who took the class were required to go to summer school before moving on. Summer school for high school students costs somewhere between $250-$350. It seems as if parents should be reimbursed. The kids were set up to fail in this model.


October 30th, 2011
8:01 pm

Ole Guy

One more time,,,, parents aren’t the ones who fail to present material properly, create a study guide that contain questions and wrong answers, and we certinaly don’t retest students until they write down the correct answers, not even knowing what they are doing so they can have a grade of A+. Most parents understand the reason for testing is to identify if a student has mastered a skill with a high level of understanding. Teachers are the ones who hand out A’s to the horror of parents as we see the material was either not taught or was not taught properly.

You identified the problem properly, you just don’t seem to see where the disconnect occurs. I’ll give you a hint. It’s at a place called Georgia Public Schools!

Oh, and if you could, how about some text books? Please?

And yes, teachers all hand out A’s to students. They test and retest until it says A+. Please show me where these parents are that demand their children all receive A’s for a grade. I beg our principal and board to teach our children and use a grade to determine what material to review. It Never, Never, Never, Ever,Ever,Ever, HAPPENS.

As for stupid kids, it sounds like you can really relate to them.


October 30th, 2011
11:10 pm

Turn off the television and play games that require problem solving skills. Make these game fun to win and acceptable to lose, come up with a new strategy, and play again.


October 31st, 2011
9:26 am

@ slob

“AJinCobb & WOW

What schools have your children attended?”

Why does this matter, I wonder.

@ catlady,

Why is it “blaming” teachers to say “they weren’t ready”?
I suppose if we know that the GPS was announced a few years earlier than it was first implemented in Math 1, and various support materials were available to teachers through web pages, then perhaps we may be blaming teachers for not preparing themselves for things they knew were coming.


October 31st, 2011
10:13 am


I ask because what happens at a few well administered schools in this state is the exception, not the rule. So when I read a parent stating that their child had an excellent educational experience claiming the problem is with the parents, I like to check graduation rates and SAT/ACT scores with the school to see if the success is with the parents or the schools. I am quite certain AJinCobb’s & Wow’s kids do/did not attend a “Hair On Fire School.” Please tell me what your thoughts are!


October 31st, 2011
1:12 pm

I don’t know if either of them stated that the problem is the parents. They simply stated that their children were successful in the new math program. The offered their own personal experiences as evidences to the general (and false) claim that the new program is failing all students.

So, my thoughts are that your requests for the information is completely irrelevant.

John Konop

October 31st, 2011
1:55 pm


…………..The offered their own personal experiences as evidences to the general (and false) claim that the new program is failing all students……….

I have not seen anyone claim the program failed all students. Yet on a macro the program did fail via the leadership lack of understanding basic QC processes. Any rational person could see that Kathy Cox and team had not fully thought-out an implementation plan taking into consideration all the issues. I do think that integrating some concepts connecting different disciplines in math may have some validity. Yet to implement the concept without taking into consideration a one size fit all approach that would leave vocational and non math oriented students behind, an odd-ball curriculum that still has no answer how to deal with kids transferring in and out of the system, blaming teachers on ill thought implementation plan and a curriculum that does not match the current university system making it difficult for kids applying for college especially out of state is irrational! Finally, once again when confronted with the issues even after your failed implementation you still have no answers, only attacks.