Frederick MD Dumps TERC Investigations

The citizens of Frederick MD just voted in a new school board.  During their campaigns elected members promised to change the way the school district operates.  In their first meeting as new members they demonstrated that they meant to keep their campaign promises, and they eliminated TERC Investigations as the school district’s math program.  TERC Investigations will continue to be used in Frederick MD elementary classrooms through the end of the year.  A new program will be selected and implemented in the Fall.  District staff have been asked to identify and address knowledge gaps for 6th grade students which might have resulted from the instructional approach followed in TERC Investigations classrooms.

The decision was not without criticism as the votes were taken without public notification or debate.

We “Mad Math Parents” in PWC applaud the Frederick MD school board for making this decision, though we do wish the school board had notified the public and allowed debate on the issue.  While we agree with the ends, we do not believe that they justify the means employed to achieve them.

Frederick MD faces a difficult decision, as they will now have to select a new instructional program and prepare teachers for that program before classes begin in the Fall.  We hope the Frederick School Board will ensure that this process is transparent and that parents are afforded ample opportunities to provide their feedback on the programs the district is considering before any decisions are made.

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6 Responses to “Frederick MD Dumps TERC Investigations”

  1. ZeroSum Ruler Says:

    Eliminating TERC is the best idea I have heard all week! n all of TERC, negative numbers are introduced once, JUST in 3rd grade, and in Boston, the unit is only covered the last 4 days of a student’s 3rd year. So sad.
    http://zerosumruler.wordpress.com/

  2. pwceducationreform Says:

    I’d love to see TERC gone in PWC! We’re in a textbook adoption cycle right now, and with school board elections in November 2011, right around the time the school board will have to select math textbooks, I suspect the issue will come up in campaigns.

    • ZeroSum Ruler Says:

      My fingers are crossed for you. I did my graduate thesis on when and how negative integer problems are introduced in Boston. This came from a need to re-teach integer addition and subtraction in 11th grade because. “for some reason”, my students were constantly telling ht that, for example “3 – 8” = -11. I developed a math manipulative that helped (and that I sell on my blog) but I also studied when negatives were introduced in Boston. What I found was:

      The last 4 days of a student’s 3rd grade are spent on TERC’s Surveys and Line Plots. Have you ever gotten through your entire intended curriculum in a year/ I did- ONCE.

      16 days are spent on CMP2’s Accentuate the Negative in a student’s 7rth grade.

      That’s it. There was why my kids told me that “solve for y in: y + 22x = 5x + 7” was y = -27x + 7!!

      The math manipulative I created and tested as part of my thesis decreased student error by 62% on simple integer addition and subtraction. BUT, my students should never have had this problem to begin with! Such a simple topic, it should be introduced earlier and for a longer amount of time. Enough already with this “spiraling”. Let’s start getting into it!

    • Ed Says:

      I’d say it’s a certainty. Two board members put their faith in the Math Department who put the faith in Math Investigations. We either deserve a full appology or their resignation, voluntary or otherwise.
      I’d say the chickens are coming home to roost or is that roast 😉

  3. Frederick MD Dumps TERC Investigations (via PWC Education Reform Blog) | Citizen Tom Says:

    […] An advocate for school reform reports a small victory. The citizens of Frederick MD just voted in a new school board.  During their campaigns elected members promised to change the way the school district operates.  In their first meeting as new members they demonstrated that they meant to keep their campaign promises, and they eliminated TERC Investigations as the school district’s math program.  TERC Investigations will continue to be used in Frederick MD elementary classrooms through the end of th … Read More […]

  4. Leaving All Children Behind in PWCS Says:

    It’s encouraging to see a school board willing to stand up for constituents – bravo FCPS Board!

    As PWCS moves forward into its 2011 Math Text Adoption Cycle it’s important to recall some of the facts regarding how Math Investigations was selected in PWCS:

    1. The Math Department, supported by the Accountability Department in December 2005 presented a briefing to the board and public claiming that MI was state approved — while knowing that the program was rejected by the state Board and Dept of Education for failing to meet minimum math content standards to support the Virginia SOLs (MI Grade 5). Yes, they lied to the board and the public. The Math Department became ideologically wedded to a failed math program and were (and still are) willing to do whatever it takes to keep MI and pursue their own ideological crusade no matter how much damage it does to other peoples’ children.

    2. The Math Department concocted “selection criteria” in March of 2006 that were specifically biased towards selecting a constructivist mathematics (MI) program. Alignment with the Virginia SOLs was deliberately omitted from the selection criteria despite state law and local policy and regulations requiring such consideration. Had alignment with state standards been a consideration, PWCS could not have selected MI due to its poor support of the Virginia state standards. Of all K-4 texts, MI provides the least SOL content support of any elementary math text reviewed and selected by the VDOE. The Grade 5 MI materials are so content deficient that they were placed on the state’s NOT RECOMMENDED LIST of texts/instructional material.

    2. During the deliberations to select MI, some board members were concerned and asked for additional research. The PWCS Math Department had secured the services of Dr. Ruth Parker – professional Math Investigations Advocate – to allay the board’s concerns. Naturally, as a professional MI Advocate, Dr. Parker could find “no reason” for concern about the controversial program. As a reward for her collusion, Dr. Parker was awarded a long term contract with PWCS for “teacher training” and “public engagement” as a “payoff” for PWCS having selected MI for mandatory use in all PWCS elementary schools.

    3. In late 2007 when parents raised concern over the mandatory implementation of texts that failed to support minimum state content standards (MI Grade 5) Superintendent Walts directed the Math Department to correspond with parents, key senior administration officials, and each and every school board member telling each that MI was state approved — again knowing this to be untrue.

    4. Over the course of two years from 2007 through 2009 parents repeatedly engaged the PWCS Board to allow the use of rigorous elementary math curricula using state-approved materials, direct instruction, and conventional texts in the classroom. While some board members were supportive, their support was drowned out by 4 board members who adamantly refused to support parents (Michael Otaigbe – Coles District, Grant Lattin – Occoquan District, Don Richardson – Gainesville District, and Denita Ramirez – Woodbridge District). Notably, all board members will face elections in the fall of 2011.

    5. In the Spring of 2009 the PWCS board voted down a parent-supported proposal to allow parents to choose to have their children be taught mathematics using direct instruction and conventional textooks. The above-listed Board members all voted against the parent-pursued motion. The Board subsequently voted to put in place several initiatives to assess the efficacy of MI through student achievement tests, parent and teacher surveys, and tracking of student progression into advanced/extended math in middle school. However, this motion – sponsored by board member Dr. Michael Otaigbe – was never enforced. Whether or not the decision was made in a back-room/closed session “deal” with the Superintendent and staff is still unknown to this day. What is known however is that achievement testing and surveys that had been accomplished each year prior to the board motion were immediately terminated. There was never any intention on part of the board to enforce their own motion.

    6. By the summer of 2009, concerns over PWCS’ conduct of its text adoption process led to a Virginia Attorney General ruling that PWCS was not “exempt” from state law and was required to comply with state education law in the selection and adoption of textbooks used in the public schools. It remains to be seen whether or not PWCS will choose to comply with the law during the 2011 Text Adoption Cycle.

    So what does this all mean? The FCPS example serves to remind us all that yes, it is possible to get rid of bad academic programs. By replacing several board members FCPS was able to hold its school administrators accountable to the public. Too often parents forget that the public schools exist to serve the public; not the personal ideological pursuits of school administrators. Each and every PWCS Board member faces re-election this fall, and their stance on the continuation of the failed MI mathematics program should be made public NOW so that the public can vote them out as necessary to ensure all children can once again be given the opportunity to learn math using conventional instruction and texts that support the Virginia Standards. Children and their tax-paying parents deserve better than what they’ve received lately in PWCS.


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