There’s an old adage that if you want to learn what’s at the heart of an issue, follow the money and you’ll have your answer. With math Investigations, following the money isn’t as easy as it might seem, because some costs, like professional development, would be incurred no matter what.
But with TERC, the authors of Investigations, professional development takes on a whole new meaning. Teachers aren’t taught the math they’re expected to teach so that they have a better understanding of what they’re teaching, no, under TERC teachers are taught how to teach Investigations and Investigations is it’s own, unique philosophy.
TERC’s philosophy says that learning the standard algorithms is bad – that it undermines students developing number sense and understanding of place value. This, of course, ignores the fact that Americans in the 1950 were taught almost exclusively the standard algorithms and we put out more skilled and qualified experts in mathematics than ever before in history and ignores the fact that Singapore, which teaches the standard algorithm along side alternate strategies starting in Grade 2 consistently stomps the US on international mathematics assessments. So, in the wonderful world of TERC, the standard algorithms aren’t taught.
TERC’s philosophy says that understanding what common denominators are and how they’re used to solve problems involving fractions is bad. Again, this ignores the facts that for decades American children have learned what common denominators are, how to find them and how to use them with no apparent negative consequences other than a desire to be engineers and scientists and architects.
In TERC’s world we’re just supposed to take these statements on faith because no evidence is ever offered to justify these beliefs. So our teachers are taught how to teach Investigations, not math, they’re taught that changing Investigations will undermine the integrity of the entire program, and they’re taught that following an alternate program does a disservice to the children because Investigations is just so gosh darn wonderful.
In the wonderful world of TERC the thought that anyone ever graduated with a degree in mathematics or went on to pursue a career in a math dependent field like engineering before Investigations was created is mind-boggling.
All of this brought to your children by, well, you. You see TERC gets paid big $$ to train our teachers on how to teach TERC. Professional development costs paid to TERC for classes this summer will run over $80,000, excluding teacher compensation and facility fees, and I highly doubt the TERC folks will be providing instruction on PWC’s new balanced program.
And that payment is just the tip of the iceberg.
There’s the TERC Math Specialist Program at GMU, a program in which 26 PWC teachers are currently enrolled. Their tuition was paid for by a grant, but once those teachers graduate they’ll expect step increases and they’ll expect to be hired as TERC Specialists instead of classroom teachers. Costs for that program begin at an estimated $1.4 million a year.
There’s the TERC training seminars at TERC’s home office. There’s the In Service Training (IST) days where our classroom teachers leave and the county has to hire substitutes.
The Wonderful World of TERC is lush, green world – provided by each of us. To bad there isn’t a real math program somewhere in that lush, green world.