NYC HOLD Parent Members’ Questions for

District 2 Parents Council Meeting on Mathematics
Curricula

Guest Presenter: Lucy West, District 2 Director of
Mathematics

Spring, 2002

DISTRICT POLICY ON SUPPLEMENTATION

__Q; What materials, texts and teaching approaches,
outside the mandated constructivist programs and supplemental NCTM
Standards-based materials, are sanctioned by District 2 for use at each grade
level, K-12 by classroom teachers, and in after school programs? __

TEST SCORE DECLINES

__Q What is the math office's explanation for the
declines in percentage of students in levels 3 and 4 in District 2 elementary schools?__

(eg At PS 2, PS 3, PS 6, PS 41, PS 124 and PS 130
percentage in levels 3 and 4 dropped between 1999 and 2001 in every grade
tested.) (3,4,5))

__Q What is the math office's explanation for the
dramatic declines in the percentage of students scoring in level 4 from 1999-2001? __

(eg At PS 1, PS 2, PS 6, PS 41, PS 40, PS 124 and PS
130 students scoring in the top performance level (4) declined between 1999 and
2001 in every grade tested (3,4,5 ) )

__Q What is the math office's explanation for the
precipitous drop (23%
percentage points) in students scoring in performance level
4 at PS 6? __

CALCULATORS

__Q At what grade are calculators introduced into District 2 classrooms?
__

__Q What are the criteria for deciding at what time and
for which kinds of problems
calculators may be used in class work and homework? __

__Q What are the criteria for deciding which kinds of
problems calculators may be used to solve on assessments - both classroom
teachers' and city and state standardized tests? __

LONG DIVISION

__Q Is the long division algorithm taught in TERC
and/or CMP?__

__Q If so at what grades and in which units of TERC
and/or CMP is the long division algorithm explicitly taught? __

__Q At what grade are District
2 students expected to have mastered the long division algorithm?__

FRACTIONS

__Q Are the rules for adding and subtracting fractions
with unlike denominators explicitly taught in TERC and/or CMP?__

__Q If so, at what grades and in which units of
TERC and/or CMP?____ __

__Q Are the rules for multiplying and dividing
fractions explicitly taught in TERC and/or CMP?__

__Q If so, at what grades and in which units of
TERC and/or CMP?____ __

__Q At what grade are District
2 students expected to have mastered proficiency in fraction manipulation? __

CMP

In an NSF funded comparative study of Singapore Math,
CMP and Mathematics in Context by faculty in the Department of Applied
Mathematics at the

http://www.amath.washington.edu/~adams/comparisons.html

Excerpts:

“The number strand is arguably the most basic and
fundamental mathematics strand and much of the presentation in CMP is below the
level articulated in the 2000 NCTM number standard for grades 6-8. Specifically
we find that CMP students are not expected to compute fluently, flexibly ad
efficiently with fractions, decimals and percents as late as 8th grade.
Standard algorithms for computations with fractions (eg. a/b X b/c = a/c; a/b ÷
a/c = c/b)are often not used. …Conversion a of fractions to decimals is discussed only in simple cases
such as for fractions with denominators of ten, and CMP lacks a discussion of
repeating decimals. A discussion of long division is also
missing….Multiplication of fractions is discussed I 7th grade but mostly in
simple cases (page 10)

”…the exponential laws are not explicitly written
down for the students …There is no discussion of negative and fractional
exponents except when students explore functions using graphing calculators. …
We feel that CMP’s overwhelming emphasis on conceptual development neglects
standard computational methods and techniques…CMP admits that ‘because the
curriculum does not emphasize arithmetic computations done by hand, some CMP
students may not do as well on part of standardized tests assessing computational
skills as students in classes that spend most of their
time on practicing such skills. This statement implies we still have not
achieved a balance between teaching fundamental ideas and computational
methods.” (page 11)

__Q: What has the math office done to address these
serious deficiencies in CMP, mandated for use in all middle schools in District
2?__

RECOMMENDATIONS OF CHANCELLOR LEVY'S MATH COMMISSION

The draft report of Chancellor Levy's Math Commission
includes the following statements:

Under Recommendation 2: Establish New Options for
grades 9-11 emphasizing formal and abstract mathematical competency for all
students who desire them

(In referring to aspects of NCTM Standards-based
programs of which ARISE is one, the report

states:)

“Whenever an emphasis is placed on ensuring that
applications are made to 'real world' situations, time must be made available
not only for the mathematical ideas, but also for the application of these
ideas. The net effect of these applications is that less emphasis is placed on
arithmetical or mathematical ideas, and the formal abstract contextual settings
sought particularly by students who will go on to become scientists, engineers,
mathematicians, computer scientists, physicians, and educators of mathematics.”

And connecting the needs of those aspiring to careers
in technical fields, the draft report includes a statement about the NCTM
standards, specifically, (which TERC, CMP and ARISE are all based on):

“Despite their many strengths,
the NCTM standards do not contain the rigor, algorithmic approach, formal
methods and logical reasoning which are required of this critically important
population.” (pages 9, 10)

__Q: Given the Math Commission's draft report clearly characterizes the
NCTM Standards-based programs as insufficient to serve as a college preparatory
continuum; what K-12 continuum of math programs does District 2 intend to
provide college-bound students?__

The Math Commission’s
Final Report submitted to the Chancellor (May, 2001) recommends
for the high school level, the
provisions for : "an option stressing formal and abstract mathematics,
while preparing students for the Regents Mathematics A and B examinations, be
available at the ninth grade to all students who are interested in taking it.
The content and scope of these courses should emphasize more extensively and in
greater depth the logical, formal, and abstract aspects of the topics
associated with Mathematics A and Mathematics B, especially algebra, geometry,
and trigonometry, and delve more deeply into mathematical algorithms, rigor,
and proofs.” (page 11)

This more rigorous option
is necessary for college bound students who intend to pursue college coursework
toward careers in medicine, engineering, accounting, computer science, physics,
chemistry, biology, psychology, business, mathematics and mathematics
education.

__Q: Does District 2
intend to follow the Math Commission's recommendations and provide for a more
rigorous, college preparatory alternative to ARISE? __

__Q If so, how will it be
decided which students must take the non-college preparatory ARISE program?__

STUYVESANT ON TERC, CMP
and ARISE

In the NY Post article, "School's New
Math=Trouble for City Kids," April 17, 2001, Stuyvesant AP, Danny Jaye
reports on Stuyvesant's experiences with ARISE, and gives his evaluation of
District 2's math programs:

"Stuyvesant HS experimented with the ARISE
constructivist math program for a year, then scrapped it as inadequate.

"We don't do it anymore. The constructivist
curriculum as a stand-alone was not effective," said Daniel Jaye,
assistant principal and math department chairman at Stuyvesant.

Students who've taken constructivist math in middle
schools are "scoring lower on our math placement exams because they don't
have the requisite skills" for algebra, Jaye added.

"I don't think it's
appropriate for any high school . . . We're not preparing our students for the
challenges of a technological workplace," he said

__Q: Given the strong
criticisms of District 2's math programs, voiced by the head of the math
department at the most highly regarded high school in NYC, together with the
findings and recommendations of the Math Commission, does District 2 plan to replace,
or provide a more rigorous alternative, to TERC, CMP and ARISE in District 2 schools?__

__Q I__f __so____, when?__

Elizabeth Carson NYC

Phone 212.529.1302

Fax 212.529.0062

Cell 917.208.7153