Singapore Math from coast to coast

Recent articles on schools and Singapore Math…

…in the east: Singapore Math: Ending the Spiral of Non-Mastery

A conversation on Schools that Can with Vinny Dotoli of Harlem Academy (the first school in Manhattan to adopt Singapore Math) reminds teachers that they need a strong math background…

relevant to their instruction, because they “can’t teach [Singapore Math] on autopilot.”

…and the west: Math, Singapore Style

Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School adopted Singapore Math school-wide this past year:

“I was stunned that six and eight weeks into the school year, teachers were at my door telling me how much they loved the program,” Director of Studies Allison Gardenswartz says. “I have never seen a response like that in all the years and programs I’ve brought on.”

 

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More schools adopting Singapore curriculum

Jeff Schrier - The Saginaw News

In the news this month:

Learning math Singapore style

Newtown Friends Quaker School believes that:

The Singapore program is “just a better way to teach,” said Schade. “The depth that you go into with Singapore math provides students the opportunity to solve problems in so many ways.”

Midlothian School adopts Singapore Math

The first school to adopt Singapore Math in the Archdiocese of Chicago likes that:

Singapore Math emphasizes problem-solving and model-drawing, with a focus on an in-depth understanding of the essential math skills recommended by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Saginaw Township elementary schools implement hands-on Singapore math program

Best quote from the article:

“Math is math, this is just a consistent way of presenting it to students,” Braun said.

And an “eek!” quote:

…materials were $220,720 and six days of intensive training was $75,982.**

Goodbye Flashcards, Hello Singapore

Fair Haven K-8 school in New Haven, CT is in their first year using Singapore math and anecdotally, teachers feel that students are better problem-solvers and are learning concepts to mastery. According to district math coordinator Ken Mathews:

There’s no official measure yet of whether students have gotten better at math under the new approach. The quarterly district assessments have changed to adapt to the new curriculum, so year-to-year comparisons don’t make sense.

The district finds that the Singapore approach aligns well to the Common Core:

The shift to Singapore math comes as the New Haven takes part in the Common Core State Standards Initiative, whereby districts and states are aligning assessments and curriculae to a new national standard. Connecticut is one of 45 states that have pledged to do so, with the hopes of being more competitive internationally. New Haven plans to overhaul its math and literacy curriculae by the 2014-15 school year, including the full implementation of Singapore math.

 

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Singapore Math helps DC charter school improve math proficiency by 83%

Test scores show momentum for charters
The Washington Post 8/4/2011

The Bruce Monroe Elementary School in Washington DC struggled to implement Singapore math, but the school remained committed to the program. In a June 6 article in the Washington Post, the school’s instructional coach, Nuhad Jamal, referred to Singapore Math as “a strength of our school.”

Recently released test scores show a 2011 proficiency percentage of 43.04%, up from 23.42% in 2010. But forget percentage points, let’s talk students. In 2010, 40 of 172 students were proficient in mathematics. In 2011 almost 75 of 174 students were proficient.

Every subgroup showed improvement. Math scores for students classified as Limited English Proficient jumped from 24.14% proficient in 2010 to 51.11% in 2011. Or an increase from 17 of 70 students in 2010 to 36 of 70 students in 2011.

While these score still fall below the school’s proficiency target, they are a start. Here’s wishing the Bruce Monroe school continued success! And some stability.

Meanwhile, here in Colorado, I’m flabbergasted that parents and teachers are telling me that Singapore Math is “too hard” for their students.

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One School’s Challenges with Singapore Math

D.C.’s Bruce-Monroe school faces challenges as it tries Singapore math method
The Washington Post 6/6/2011

If you’ve been wondering what the difficulties are when implementing Singapore math, look no further. This school in D.C. has them all; school closures, lack of enough professional development, mobile student and teacher population, and it’s a dual-language school. Standardized test scores dropped significantly after the change to Singapore math.

The story  evoked responses from many in education. Joane Jacobs mused:

The fact that it ( Singapore Math) requires elementary teachers to understand math well has to be a serious obstacle.

In a letter to the editor dated June 14, 2011, Dr. Alan Ginsburg suggested that the problem at Bruce-Monroe may be bigger than just the Singapore math adoption. He pointed out that the school’s reading scores

declined by 15 percentage points in a single year, and Hispanic students’ scores declined by 21 percentage points.

Bill Jackson, in another great Daily Riff article (Going Beyond Singapore Math: Resisting Quick Fixes), ennumerates the complex issues behind plunking a program like Singapore math into the American classroom.

While most educators familiar with Singapore math agree that it is not the oft-quoted “silver bullet”, Jackson reminds us that:

if we keep throwing out promising ideas just because they don’t immediately improve scores on tests whose quality is questionable at best we’re doomed to repeating the haphazard and fragmented reform efforts that got us here in the first place.

He closes with a word to schools that are currently using Singapore math:

I would like to say that you are definitely moving in the right direction. There will be challenges along the way but they are the same ones you would face with any math program and they can be overcome if you understand the bigger issues behind effective math teaching and learning.

Faced with so many challenges, it’s impressive that Bruce Monroe’s  instructional coach, Nuhad Jamal remains upbeat about the school’s Singapore math adoption.

 

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Singapore Math School Videos

Two videos were recently published by schools that adopted Singapore math programs last school year.

Melrose Elementary School Mathematics/Science/Technology Magnet has seen impressive results with their new Singapore Math program, Primary Mathematics. Math Coach Lacy Endo-Peery announced:

We had a 32% increase in students who were advanced or proficient in Math last year. Our students went from 43% to 75 % in one year!

The school has put together an informative 8 minute video about their experiences with Singapore Math. Its always helpful to hear  teachers sharing the reasons why Singapore math works with their students, the importance of sustained training, and why the school selected Singapore math.

Singapore math materials tend to be light on practice for mastering math facts. To compensate for that, many schools supplement using the activity in the video referred to as a math sprint. These were designed by Professor Yoram Sagher (also in the video) and are used widely in U.S. schools. While sprints are designed to help students become fluent with computation, they are not a part of the Singapore math curriculum. (Sprint books for teachers are available at SingaporeMath.com.)


Reynolds School District in Fairview, Oregon is expecting student achievement to rise with their adoption of the Math in Focus version of  Singapore math materials. Before the adoption, the 12 elementary schools in the district were using different curricula, which was an issue for students that changed schools within the district.In the video, both teachers and students report  how much they like that visual component of the materials.

 

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