Singapore Math Common Core Edition debuts at NCTM Conference

Cassy Turner

Thanks to Pearson for my cool caricature. Looks just like me, doesn’t it?!

I’ve just returned from an invigorating week at the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM) and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) conferences in New Orleans. Expect some posts soon that will share interesting things that I learned.

Common Core Edition of Primary Mathematics

First off, the new Common Core aligned editions of Primary Mathematics were available at the Singapore Math, Inc.® booth and they looked great! If you’re currently using the California Standards Edition of Primary Mathematics, don’t panic! The company will continue to carry the materials. However, once you see the Common Core Edition, you’re probably going to want to switch. [Using the U.S. Edition? You’re good to go with some supplementing, but you’re used to that already.   😉  ]  Copies of the new materials are not available for preview yet, but I’ll be posting some more info and sample lessons as they do become available.

Good news! Looks like there will be a Primary Digital component to the program as well.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m a little Common Core-d out. It seems like EVERY session at both conferences had to reference the Common Core to get accepted. Thank goodness that Primary Mathematics is already fairly well aligned  to Common Core. [Don’t believe me? Here’s Achieve’s analysis.] In perusing the new Primary Mathematics Common Core books, I noticed that content was not moved to higher grade levels, just because that’s where it was in the CCSS-M. They’ve kept the integrity of the sequence, added a few review lessons to meet CCSS-M at grade level and provided an unprecedented level of potential student questioning and discourse in the Teacher’s Guides.

I thought I’d leave you with one of the Japanese Puzzles from a fabulous session at NCTM presented by Jeffrey Wanko called Puzzling It Out: Teaching Inductive Reasoning. Have fun!

Use the three examples of Mirror puzzles and their unique solutions shown below to determine both the goal and the rules that govern Mirror puzzles.Mirrors_Puzzles


Maths in Singapore



TIMSS 2011: Singapore Leads International Math Standings

TIMSS 2011For the past 20 years, the TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) has measured mathematics and science achievement of participating students at the fourth and eighth grades. It has been conducted on a regular 4-year cycle since 1995.

For U.S. Educators, TIMSS is valuable since it compares the achievement of  American students to their peers in other countries. From the National Center for Education Statistics:

TIMSS provides reliable and timely data on the mathematics and science achievement of U.S. 4th- and 8th-grade students compared to that of students in other countries.

TIMSS 2011 truly was a global study; 52 countries and 7 education systems participated in 4th Grade, while 45 countries and 14 education systems were involved at the 8th Grade level.

Last week, TIMSS 2011 was released. Note that all scores are adjusted to a 500 scale average. The results (…drumroll please…):

For 4th Grade Math, the top scoring nations are:

1. Singapore, average score 606
2. Republic of Korea, 605
3. Hong Kong, 602
4. Chinese Taipei, 591
5. Japan, 585

11. United States, 541

The following North American jurisdictions also participated in 4th Grade Math:

North Carolina, 554
Florida, 545
Quebec, 533
Ontario, 518
Alberta, 507

For 8th Grade Math, the top scoring nations are:

1. Republic of Korea, average score 613
2. Singapore, 611
3. Chinese Taipei, 609
4. Hong Kong, 586
5. Japan, 570

9. United States, 509

The following North American jurisdictions also participated in 8th Grade Math:

Massachusetts, 561
Minnesota, 545
North Carolina, 537
Quebec, 532
Indiana, 522
Colorado, 518
Connecticut, 518
Florida, 513
Ontario, 512
Alberta, 505
California, 493
Alabama, 466

A summary of TIMMS 2011 results is available here.  Data tables with results for 4th and 8th Grade mathematics are here.

A listing of all participating entities and their TIMSS 2011 math scores for 4th and 8th Grades is reproduced below:

TIMSS 2011 4th Grade Math

TIMSS 2011 4th Grade Math


TIMSS 2011 8th Grade Math

TIMSS 2011 8th Grade Math

The National Center for Education Statistics is the source of Tables and other information extracted from TIMSS 2011 in this post.



Giving Thanks – Wow: What an Amazing 2012!

This Thanksgiving, as is my custom, I’m again taking time to reflect on the amazing experiences that I have enjoyed over the past 12 months. It is so gratifying to have the opportunity to champion elementary math education and GET PAID to spend time in classrooms with teachers and students.  I want to extend heartfelt thanks to everyone who has played a part in making the year so special.

In my “Giving Thanks” message last year, I confessed that 2011 would be difficult to beat. Well…beat it I did. In 2012, my math training and consulting business more than doubled and I enjoyed some amazing professional opportunities… Where to start?

Training and learning on four continents

Singapore Math Teacher, trainer and consultant with teachers in the Republic of Palau

Cassy Turner with teachers in the Republic of Palau

How about Palau? In May, I was awarded a contract by the Republic of Palau to assist the Ministry of Education (MOE) with the implementation of the Singapore Math® Curriculum. I visited Palau twice in 2012, providing training and professional development for teachers and MOE Staff.

Singapore Math teacher, trainer and consultant Cassandra Turner with teachers at the Association International School

Cassy Turner with teachers at AIS, Ghana

Then there’s Ghana. The Association International School in Accra, Ghana, hired me to help teachers adopt Singapore Math®. I spent a week working at AIS in September 2012.

Singapore Math teacher, trainer and consultant Cassandra Turner with Teachers at ICME-12

Cassy Turner with Korean Teachers at ICME-12

And Korea. I attended the Olympic Games of Mathematics Education, otherwise known as the International Congress on Mathematical Education (ICME), in Seoul, Korea. Held only once every four years, ICME-12 attracted 5,000 participants from more than 150 countries.

These life-changing experiences in the summer of 2012 included mathematics teaching, training and learning on four continents. All told, I logged more than 60,000 miles. Incredible!

School Clients and BER

While international clients are energizing, I am extremely grateful to provide professional development services on a regular basis for more than a dozen North American Schools that are using Singapore Math®, the world’s best elementary math curriculum.

I truly appreciate my relationship with the Bureau of Education & Research (BER), now in its third year. Through BER, I presented more than 30 Singapore Mathematics seminars for teachers across North America in 2012. I’m very grateful that BER invited me to present at their “Helping Students Succeed in Math” conferences in the coming months.

Learning and Presenting

For the 4th consecutive year, my personal learning included attendance and participation at the 2012 annual conferences of both the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and NCSM. At NCTM, I was a speaker, presenting a session with Lauri Susi of Conceptua Math entitled, “Technology + Singapore Strategies = Number Sense” to a large audience of Math Educators.

Singapore Math teacher, trainer and consultant Cassandra Turner has collected many badges over the past four years

Cassy’s badges from Math Educator conferences

I continue to conduct peer reviews of articles submitted for publication in NCTM journals and met my personal goal of reading at least 50 books for the third straight year.

Community Service

Despite a very busy work and travel schedule, I made time this year to serve several causes that are very important to me.

I’m entering my 3rd and final year as a member of the Board of Directors of Liberty Common School, an award-winning K-12 Charter School in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Congratulations are in order for Liberty’s first high school class which graduates in May. This group of seniors earned the highest composite ACT test score of any school in the state. And the Elementary school was the first in the nation to be re-certified as a Core Knowledge Official School through the Analysis of Curriculum and Practices (ACAP) process recently developed by the Core Knowledge Foundation.

I’m proud that my after-school math club continues to be wildly popular with kids who have great fun while building math skills that last a lifetime. Special thanks to parents who help oversee the club when I can’t be there.

I’m also wrapping up my 4th year as an advisor to students in the award-winning International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Poudre High School.


Of course I’m most thankful for my wonderful family, which has also enjoyed a memorable year. As also is my custom, I’ll spare readers more details.

Once again, my sincerest thanks to clients, colleagues, partners and students for a wonderful year.



Learning from Singapore’s School Success

Policymakers in Utah have been attracted to the Singapore math curriculum for some time. A recent article in the Deseret News focused attention on what can be learned from the success of the educational system in Singapore. Reporter Celia Baker considered:

The island nation of Singapore transformed itself from a third-world country to an economic powerhouse in less than a half-century by concentrating on its education system.

(ed. after visiting Singapore in 2007, I believe this transformation took less than a generation.)

Although the article refers to ‘tiger mothers,’ it seems evident that the quality of the country’s curriculum is foremost in developing successful students. Baker cited a 2010 New York Times article that stated:

In contrast to the most common math programs in the United States, Singapore math devotes more time to fewer topics, to ensure that children master the material through detailed instruction, questions, problem solving, and visual and hands-on aids like blocks, cards and bar charts.

So, as Baker concludes, in Singapore, “Students develop a strong foundation in math under the system and can advance rapidly later on.”

Of note, in another article, reporter Baker also considered ways that Finland was able to revitalize its education system.  Baker notes:

Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond said, “Thirty years ago, Finland’s education system was a mess. It was quite mediocre, very inequitable. It had a lot of features our system has: very top-down testing, extensive tracking, highly variable teachers, and they managed to reboot the whole system.”

 What would it take to re-boot our system?