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Plano Parental Rights Council

P.O. Box 250416 Plano, TX 75025-0416

972-423-3092 fax 972-491-5883

e-mail ssa857@airmail.net

http://www.PlanoPRC.org (upcoming)

Connected Math

Whatís it all about??

The answers from a parentís perspective

 

 

In the spring of 1999, the PISD School Board voted to adopt the controversial Connected Mathematics Project textbooks for use in all Middle Schools beginning in the Fall of 1999. When these textbooks were reviewed for compliance to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills elements by the Texas Education Agency, they failed to address an average of 43.3% of those elements at each individual grade level. The teaching of Connected Math is characterized by group discovery of mathematical concepts with an emphasis on problem solving, communication, reasoning and connections (the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics goals). It also emphasizes student-directed learning (the student learns what he is interested in learning), cooperative instruction (students teach each other), teachers as facilitators (as opposed to direct instruction), use of calculators (students access information instead of acquiring basic facts and skills), and a focus on applied learning.

Connected Math was piloted for 3 years at Armstrong, Wilson, Haggard and Bowman Middle Schools. The following information is from the CMP website at www.math.msu.edu/cmp/Index.html. "The curriculum is organized around appealing and engaging problems. In solving these problems, students observe and generalize patterns and relationships, a process vital to acquiring a solid understanding of mathematical ideas. Connected Mathematics consists of units - each developed around a series of investigations - which emphasize a major concept or cluster of concepts. Students count, visualize, compare, measure, model, reason, play and use tools to explore mathematics. Problems based on real contexts, familiar and fun settings or interesting situations engage studentsí interest. Investigations use calculators, software and manipulatives such as angle rulers, square color tiles, number cubes and Connected Mathematics ShapeSets and Polystrips kits."

PISD has decided a change is needed at the middle school level to improve scores on the end-of-course algebra exams. There is absolutely no evidence that Connected Math will help Plano students do that since the students participating, in many cases unwillingly, in the pilot have not yet taken the End of Course Algebra exam. There are no test results to back up this claim. In addition, evidence from programs used in California similar to Connected Math have failed to demonstrate the effectiveness of this reform mathematics philosophy.

One of our main concerns are the complaints of parents who attempt to help their children with their homework. We have been told stories of hours spent at the kitchen table, not so much to get an answer to the problem, but more to figure out what the problem was asking!! In addition, parents tell us that their child will indicate to them that they understand the concept, feel pretty good about doing the homework, and then do poorly on the quiz or test designed to measure the studentís understanding. Sometimes, days are spent in class discovering one conpcept, and then the quiz indicates that the kids just donít get it! We cannot possibly afford to re-teach all that material and still expect to complete the required curriculum.

According to information released by the Texas Education Agency, out of more than 1000 school districts in Texas only 6 adopted the Connected Math Project. Being one of 3 large districts to adopt CMP, Austin ISDís Middle School Textbook Advisory Committee recommended a split adoption, choosing CMP and another textbook (Glencoe/McGrawHill Applications and Connections) from the current adoption list to supplement Connected Math. Planoís supplementary textbook will be over eight years old. This type of approach to math is definitely not the wave of the future.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

PISD says CMP is a good program so why should I consider an alternative??

This new method of teaching math has not shown significant positive impact on student achievement. Students generally do no better or worse than students in more traditional math classes. In addition, similar programs in California have actually seen large declines in computational scores for their student populations.

PISD says the curriculum determines what is taught, not the textbook. So will there really be a difference?

This seems more an exercise in semantics than a description of what happens in the classroom. The textbook drives the curriculum. In addition, the teaching methodology and the depth at which mathematical concepts are covered would be extremely different in a "traditional" math class.

Wonít a "traditional" program be characterized by memorization and rote learning?

The Glencoe series of books does include many hands-on activities to reinforce what is being learned. There is an emphasis on basic skills and there is practice to promote mastery. However, the hands-on activities can be looked at as the supplement to basic skills, as opposed to the basic skills being the supplement to the hands-on activities, as might be said of CMP.

What if my child is on the honors track? Will the alternative class put them behind?

We contend that the mathematical content of the on-level Glencoe textbooks far exceeds what the CMP classes were able to accomplish in the pilot schools. Due to the time consuming nature of the program, some classes only completed 4 of the 7 modules scheduled to be covered at a given grade level. If your child is in ALGEBRA I in 8th grade, they will be using the 9th grade Glencoe Algebra I textbook and their grade will go onto their high school transcript.

Didnít all the middle school teachers support this program?

In fact, the majority of math teachers at 3 or 4 of our middle schools voted against this program. In addition, there has never been an official accounting of the actual votes individually for or against CMP. A simple majority of teachers at a given school was all that was required to swing the vote one way or the other.

At the heart of the matter.....

is a parentís right to choice and their fundamental right, under federal law, to direct the education of their child. The Texas Education Code section 26.003 states,

Rights Concerning Academic Programs: A parent is entitled to request, with the expectation that the request will not be unreasonably denied, the addition of a specific academic class in the course of study of the parentís child in keeping with the required curriculum if sufficient interest is shown in the addition of the class to make it economically practical to offer the class.

In sworn testimony before the House Public Education Committee on March 30, 1999, PISD Deputy Superintendent Keith Sockwell said of the math controversy in Plano, "If we need to re-look at it, we certainly are very willing to do this." Representative Hochberg commented, "It has continued to amaze me that the concept of customer service doesnít seem to have ever sunk into enterprises like school boards in general." In addition, Representative Grusendorf questioned Mr. Sockwell regarding parental rights in section 26.003 of the Texas Education Code and said, "And I think it was some of our intent when we passed this statute that the parents would have this right. And it says, shall not be unreasonably denied. So, the question is, do these parents have that rightóeven though you may disagree with them?" Mr. Sockwell replied, "If that is certainly the interpretation, you know, if we have not interpreted that properly, certainly they may have that right."

Itís the law.....you have a choice

If you want an alternative conventional math class join our petition drive. We already have over 1100 parents who have requested an alternative for their student. These are highly rated textbooks and have been adopted in many of our neighboring districts. They were found to conform to all the required Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills elements when evaluated by the Texas Education Agency. The books use traditional instruction methods and have been found to have a high level of mathematical content. They are also part of the series of books that leads up to the Glencoe Algebra I textbook currently being used in 9th grade. You are asking that a CMP class be replaced by the alternative you are requesting. Therefore, there is no economic impact to the district.

Education Advocacy by and for Parents

We are a non-profit 501©3 Corporation providing parents with information and statistics about the Plano Independent School District.

 

HOW TO GET A PETITION

1. Call Ronni Jenkins 972-423-3092, Timothy Soh 972-491-7859 or Sue Sarhady 972-491-0203 and we will mail you one.

2. They are available on-line via the internet at www.pisd.org and http://cmpinpisd.freeservers.com