CANTON - For Eric Schrader, "Everyday Mathematics" doesn't add up.

He brought his concerns to the last Canton Area School Board meeting. Some district teachers, meanwhile, took the chance to defend the program at the meeting.

District superintendent Matt Gordon said "Everyday Mathematics" was implemented in the 2004-05 school year, and currently it's used in grades K-5.

"We plan to incorporate it into sixth grade next school year," he said, when asked for comment. "The students' PSSA Math performance has improved significantly each year after implementation of this program."

During the meeting, elementary principal Diane Barrett also said test scores have gone up.

Speaking during the public comment period, Schrader said he was in favor of a traditional approach of teaching math. He spoke of the difficulties his son has had with "Everyday Mathematics."

"He was actually crying at the table because he couldn't figure out how to do his division," he said. "He worked on the problem for over a half an hour, and could not get the answer. My child is not a slouch. He is very good at school, very good."

"I taught him how to divide the way that we were all taught in school," he continued. "He had every problem on the page done in less than five minutes. So, you tell me what works."

When asked for comment, Schrader said he doesn't like the "Everyday Mathematics" program because he said it doesn't feature constant "drilling" and repetition of basic math facts, as students used to be taught. With "Everyday Math," he claimed that children, for example, are given "tools" to get answers, such as exercises that involve counting window panes or tiles, rather than simply being taught that two plus two equals four the old-fashioned way.

"I spoke with a couple of you on the board about this, and you honestly told me you know nothing about this program," Schrader said. "That's shocking to me."

"What this is going to boil down to in my eyes is possibly when my child hits college, it's going to be more money out of my pocket and I'm going to have to pay for remedial math courses for my kid to get into college or to maintain a college grade point average," he said. He said other parents feel the same way as he does.

"Every parent that I talked to hates this 'Everyday Math' and wishes it was gone," he said.

When asked to respond to Schrader's comments, Mary Skafidas, spokesperson with McGraw-Hill Education, which publishes "Everyday Math," said, "'Everyday Math' was developed to incorporate several ways of teaching a particular math concept. The US (United States) standard algorithms, like long division, are provided for teachers and students, along with other ways. Many teachers that use 'Everyday Math' share with us that their students enjoy math and actually understand it much better because they can choose the way that work best for them."

At the meeting, teachers speaking in favor of the program were Claire Waldmeyer and Trina Beers.

Waldmeyer said, "'Everyday Math,' as its names implies, goes to the everyday math around us. Students are taught to think mathematically and use the math throughout not only math class, but everyday examples of what they do.

"I do feel it's a very good program," she said.

On a Web site, www.everydaymathsuccess.com, a description of the program is included. It reads: "'Everyday Mathematics' is a structured, rigorous, and proven program that helps students learn mathematical reasoning and develop strong math skills. 'Everyday Mathematics' is the program of choice for over 3 million students in over 185,000 classrooms nationwide. No other program has been developed as thoroughly and carefully over time, with full field testing prior to publication. In addition, no other program has the extensive verification that it works."

It notes that "Everyday Mathematics" "not only teaches basic skills, but also expands beyond traditional drills."

"The program encourages children to understand why math is important and how they reach their answers, so they internalize what they are learning," it continues. "As a result, students find it easier to remember basic skills, to apply what they know in order to solve problems, and to think mathematically. Children learn and practice all of the basic math facts, and they do it in multiple ways, including paper-and pencil exercises, hands-on use of math manipulatives, and skills-based mathematics games. The program also has extensive teacher materials that provide a wealth of information for both the novice and experienced teacher."

It notes that "Everyday Mathematics" is research-based, field tested one year at a time - and revised based on feedback - prior to publication, has higher expectations for both teachers and students, has a unique instructional design that ensures that students learn basic skills and mathematics strategies and can apply them in a variety of situations, and has an effectiveness that has been documented through a variety of studies.

Also on the Web site, several success stories are listed.

For example, the Web site notes that since implementing "Everyday Mathematics" in 2003, New York City public schools have closed the achievement gap with peers throughout the state each year. At the end of the 2008-2009 school year, 81.8 percent of New York City students in Grades 3 to 8 met or exceeded grade-level math standards, it notes.

And according to the Web site, the School District of Philadelphia has made a tremendous turn-around.

"The percentage of students in Philadelphia who scored in the Advanced and Proficient categories on the Grade 5 PSSA mathematics test has doubled to 42 percent since implementing 'Everyday Mathematics' in 2002," it notes.

Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; e-mail: reviewtroy@thedailyreview.com.

## 19 posted comments

The program does NOT lead to mastery. The program has NOT been proven as a strong program. The studies that showed it was a good program has NOT been able to be replicated. Good teachers supplement the program heavily with traditional teachings. And let's just all think - can you name any another skill in life that you can play games and dabble around and you have mastery?

I spend 30-45 minutes every night with my son working on mathematics. If your child is in a school using Everyday Math - I suggest you do the same. He is working his way through a third grade traditional math textbook and doing great.

If you want to join a discussion on the failures of Everyday Math, contact the web site above. Parents from across the country are fighting against Everyday math in their school.

Japan adopts new stavdards every 10 years. 1982, 1992, 2002 in 2002 they made their standards more USA like. Result was among the largest drops of any developed country on PISA in 2006 .... and as a result mostly a return to 1992 standards while waiting for 2012.

The NSF/ EHR spent around $100 million producing math programs .... result USA is far and away the lowest scoring English Speaking Nation on PISA math examination of 15 year olds.

Despite a large increase in the population of college students in the last 20 years....... the absolute number of students enrolled in 2nd year Calculus has dropped as has the number of engineers graduating from college in the USA ...... if you look at native born students in each of these two groups it gets really embarrassing.

No one I know wants a return to the past .... but given a choice between Reform/Inquiry/Discovery Math lunacy and Plan B..... most take Plan B.

Try reading David C. Geary, John Sweller, Paul A. Kirschner and then carefully review John Hattie's "Visible Learning" to find out what the effect sizes of what really works.

This overwhelming research for the constructivist approach is "BUNK". Read the National Math Advisory Panel's "Foundations for Success" to separate the BUNK from the REAL

My question is about that doubled to 42% number since 2002...... what happened to the State average during the same time period? Did it double also?

Is this test valid, reliable, and worth using as a reference?

What OVERWHELMING research would you care to cite? In regards to the research on Everyday Math, it was found that of the The Deparment of Education's What Works Clearinghouse which evaluates research on the various math programs, reviewed 61 Everyday Math studies. The findings: Of those 61 studies, none met evidence standards, 4 met evidence standards with reservations and 57 did not meet evidence screens. Of the remaining four, the WWC found Everyday Mathematics to have potentially positive effects on math achievement based on one study alone: the 2001 Riordan & Noyce study. Just so everyone is on the same page, Pendred Noyce has a vested interest in Everyday Math in that she has formed associations with several reform math initiatives, at least one dedicated to implementation of Everyday Math: COMAP, for which she serves on the Board of Directors.

Interpretation: Only 4 of 61 studies were correctly researched and of those 4 the research was influenced by someone who would have a monetary gain if it showed Everyday Math worked.

Of those countries kicking our butt in mathematics, maybe we should look at what kind of curriculum they are using. As it turns out, the majority of them are using traditional methods of math instruction. Since the students in Singapore consistently top the world in math achievement, it makes sense to consider using the same math curriculum they use (and yes, Singapore students are taught in English). A number of enlightened charter, independent or private schools have adopted Singapore Math as their math program. But relatively few mainstream public schools or districts have done so.

From Barry Garlick, editor of Education next: “Singapore's texts also present material in a logical sequence throughout the grades and expect mastery of the material before the move to the next level (As opposed to everyday math’s spiraling technique where no mastery is needed before moving on.) The most important feature of Singapore's texts is an ingenious problem-solving strategy built into the curriculum. Word problems are for most students the most difficult part of any mathematics course. Singapore's texts help students tackle them through a technique called 'bar modeling,' in which students draw a diagram to help them solve the problem. Typically, in U.S. texts, students are taught to use a method called 'Guess and Check' -- trying combinations of numbers until the right numbers are found that satisfy the conditions of the problem -- a method that many professional mathematicians consider inefficient (see sidebar). The bar-modeling technique not only provides a powerful method for solving problems, but also serves as a link to algebra. Symbolic representation of problems, the mainstay of algebra, emerges as a logical extension of the bar-modeling technique.”

And if we are going to use anecdotal evidence as fact, the Hartford Courant in March of 2009 reported that “40% of incoming freshman at Conn's public colleges and universities need remedial math. 40%. Connecticut is deeply invested in programs such as Everyday Math and Trailblazers, with state standards closely aligned with these programs.”

But you can be sure, after 12 years of education in fuzzy math, a 40% failure rate for college bound students is not something I want in my schools. Parents and educators who are more concerned with conceptual understanding over computation fluency are simply setting our kids up for failure.

I would not be bragging that your child is taught math the "old fashioned way". That prepares her for yesterday and the world that YOU lived in. Why not prepare her for tommorrow? The world that SHE will have to live in. I think that "Concerned Math Teacher" is right on.