Below are links to articles, research, and studies indicating that constructivism (or reform or standards based) mathematics isn’t all it’s proported to be by math educators.
What Do College Students Students Know?
Dr W. Stephen Wilson notices a sharp decline in the percentage of students achieving A’s and B’s on his final exam when he compares students in 1989 to 2006. He concludes that the NCTM standards advocating the use of calculators in K – 12 mathematics has caused students knowledge of mathematics to decline.
How Did it Get This Bad?
Dr Sandra Stotsky’s article challenging constructivism (the theory which underlies Investigations) and social justice theory and the effects those educational philosophies have on what our children are taught and how it’s taught to them. One of her concluding comments, “To salvage a failing public school system, we need to remove de facto control of the content of the K-12 curriculum from education schools as soon as possible.”
Top Ten Myths about Math Education, and Why You Shouldn’t Believe Them
This 2005 article by Karen Budd, Elizabeth Carson, Barry Garelick, David Klein, R. James Milgram, Ralph A. Raimi, Martha Schwartz, Sandra Stotsky, Vern Williams, and W. Stephen Wilson casts aside the often repeated and much revered myths math educators like to claim about constructivist math. There is no evidence to support any of these myths. None.
A first step in figuring out how math education became what it is today is understanding how reform or constructivist math came about. Dr Quirk’s article “The Anti-Content Mind-set: The Root Cause of the Math Wars” is a good place to start.
The National Council for the Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) has established a list of standards mathematics programs should achieve. Those standards have become the de facto standard most mathematics curricula strive to provide. Unfortunately, as by Dr Quick states in the report linked above, those standards have little to do with math. The NCTM revised it’s standards in 2000, and while those standards are an improvement over the previous version, the arithmetic is still missing.
Think that’s a little harsh? Imagine what it would take to get over 200 mathematicians and math professionals to write a letter to the US Department Of Education begging them to reconsider recommending 10 constructivist programs. Because that’s exactly what they did.