Duval Gives 'New Math' Good Grade; Supporters Say It Helps Students Understand, Not Memorize, but to Others It's Just Confusing

By Mitchell, Tia | The Florida Times Union, June 26, 2005 | Go to article overview

Duval Gives 'New Math' Good Grade; Supporters Say It Helps Students Understand, Not Memorize, but to Others It's Just Confusing


Mitchell, Tia, The Florida Times Union


Byline: TIA MITCHELL

Duval County school officials credit a new method of teaching mathematics -- that emphasizes problem solving and critical thinking over the ages-old approach of rote memorization -- with the steady improvement in test scores over the past several years.

But some parents and teachers say the new math is confusing to students and doesn't force them to absorb basic math procedures such as multiplication and division.

At the center of the debate is a new math program that has gradually taken hold in the school system since being introduced in 2001. There are no traditional textbooks, and much of class time is spent engaged in hands-on activities tied to everyday experiences.

Ed Pratt-Dannals, Duval County's associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said the old way of teaching math rarely focused on applying concepts needed for a deeper understanding of the basic skills.

"We taught math for memorization, and some memorized it and some didn't," Pratt-Dannals said. "Now we teach material for understanding."

The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests require this higher level of thinking, often encouraging students to solve word problems that require two or three steps. Because students are trained to apply math concepts, they are better able to think through these problems and solve them, Pratt-Dannals said.

He said improvements in math FCAT scores are proof the new method is working.

In 2002, 42 percent of Duval County's fourth-graders passed the math portion of FCAT. Statewide, 51 percent of fourth-graders passed. This year, 60 percent of Duval County fourth-graders passed math. Although that percentage is still below the state average of 64 percent, the gap has closed considerably.

TEACHING CONCEPTS

In elementary school the new program is called Math Investigations.

One second-grade lesson encourages students to work with a partner to find various ways to divide 10 cubes into two groups. This lesson helps students identify sums that equal 10, an essential component of addition that will help them later with more-complicated calculations.

Writers of the Math Investigations materials say the new method is better than rote memorization because students can forget basic facts, such as 8 + 7 = 15. But if they understand the concept behind the math, they will always be able to solve that problem.

Duval middle school teachers use a similar program called Connected Math, one of five mathematics programs identified as exemplary by the U.S. Department of Education in 1999.

Connected Math word problems use sales tax, tips and store discounts to teach students about calculating percentages.

In a more traditional setting, students would have been taught how to calculate those percentages, then applied the knowledge to solve other sample problems. Today's Duval County math teacher will let students come up with methods on their own, using what they already know and collaborating with classmates to come up with an answer.

These programs were first introduced in phases beginning in 2001. Last year, the new math programs became mandatory in every Duval County classroom.

SOME ARE FRUSTRATED

Some teachers aren't happy about that.

Sara Stolkner, a fifth-grade math teacher at Sabal Palm Elementary School, said Math Investigations assumes children will discover the lessons on their own, and there is no backup plan for when they don't. She feels the program is getting too much credit for the district's rising math scores.

"No, it's us," she said. "Anyone who is truly a teacher is going to find ways to make things work."

Angela Peterson, a first-grade teacher at Lone Star Elementary School, likes to use old worksheets to drill her students on math skills. She and other teachers feel Math Investigations has been forced upon them and that they are not welcome to use traditional textbooks and worksheets to supplement their lessons. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Duval Gives 'New Math' Good Grade; Supporters Say It Helps Students Understand, Not Memorize, but to Others It's Just Confusing
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.