Experts weigh in on Singapore Math

I found some interesting interviews with noted mathematics experts, James Milgram and Ze’ev Wurman in a new blog called Math Experts – Q & A. The host, Pascal Blacque, asks mathematicians their opinions on current education trends.  Blaque states upfront that he is “concerned about the ‘reform math’ program” in his daughter’s school.

Here’s Milgram on Everyday Math:

There is a pretty good program hidden inside EM.  But no more than 1 in 500 teachers are capable of locating and delivering it.  However, that one teacher would almost certainly be able to do better on her own.

Both Milgram and Wurman are pretty warm and fuzzy on Singapore Math, though.  From the interview with Milgram (full interview):

Q&A: If you had to pinpoint two/three main deficiencies in EM (Everyday Math) and Singapore, what would they be?
JM: There are no major deficiencies in the Singapore program, just a few points where it could be better than it is.  On the other hand, the recommended lessons in EM are mostly useless.
From the interview with Wurman (full interview):
Q&A: If you had to rate EDM (Everyday Math) vs. Singapore Math in achieving real math proficiency, what would be your ranking on 1-10 scale (10 being best) for each program?
ZW: Proficiency is hard to define. I would use the preparation for an authentic Algebra 1 course (Nat’l Advisory Math Panel definition) instead.
TERC = 2,
EDM = 4,
Saxon = 7 or 8,
Singapore (Primary Math) = 10
Both interviews are informative reads.

Singapore Math = High Scores for Monterey School

Fourth-graders, from left, Chloe Bernal, Kristofer Kimes and Emma Leamy are ready to answer a question in their math class at Santa Catalina School. The school uses a method of teaching called Singapore Math. (REG REGALADO/Herald Correspondent)

From The Herald, Monterey County:

NEW MATH = HIGH SCORES: Singapore system working at Santa Catalina
By John Sammon

It seems a small thing, concentrating on basics, making sure students master concepts before moving on, but proponents of Singapore Math say the system is dramatically improving math scores at Santa Catalina School.

“We had a good math program before, but we wanted a great math program,” said Christy Pollacci, division head at the private K-12 independent Catholic school in Monterey.

Singapore Math specialist and sixth grade teacher Bill Davidson on the Singapore Math sequence:

Davidson said a lack of emphasis on teaching basic skills in the lower grades is partly to blame for poor test results at schools nationwide. For example, students are expected to grasp algebra and geometry without having mastered fractions and ratios.

“What makes Singapore Math special is the sequence in which the skills are taught,” Davidson said. “Addition and subtraction aren’t taught as separate subjects, but simultaneously, instead of being compartmentalized.”


Singapore Math: Expect more schools in Kentucky to copy method used in Asia

The Independent in Ashland, Kentucky, predicts the expansion of Singapore math across the Commonwealth.  With the adoption of “much tougher math standards” in Kentucky and the proven success of the Singapore Math pilot program in Fayette County, “new math” may be on its way out.

Maybe it is time to try a new way of teaching math. Like Singapore math, for example. While Singapore math now is being taught as part of a pilot program in nine Lexington schools, don’t be surprised if it soon is taught in schools across the state. That’s because the early results from the schools using Singapore math have been positive.

Full article: Singapore math: Expect more schools in state to copy method used in Asia.

More on Singapore Math in Kentucky: Fayette County to expand Singapore Math program.


Fayette County to expand Singapore Math program

Fayette, Kentucky schools were in the news this week:

More Fayette schools sign up for Singapore math program
By Jim Warren
Lexington Herald-Leader Online

More Fayette County schools want to join the district’s demanding new Singapore math program, the county Board of Education was told Monday night.

And and the Associated Press adds:
More Singapore Math Classes Likely In Lexington

The county’s elementary math content specialist told the Fayette County Board of Education on Monday that up to eight more schools want to start using the program in the fall, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported. Nine elementary schools in Fayette County began using the program in 2009 and a dozen more joined this school year.


Parent takes a stand for Singapore Math

This story came across the news today:

Parent Kipp Marcus discovered Singapore Math:

“…because a colleague of mine whose son goes to Hunter, was working on the whiteboard in our office one day, and this kid was just exploding with math,” Marcus told the Board of Education on Monday night. “And what was exciting was not just that he knew how to do math, but that he loved it — and this was not a kid who just loved math. He was just a kid who got it.”

Read the full story: Westport Dad Backs ‘Singapore Math’