By Gregg Settle
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Posted on Wed, May. 26, 2004
An unproved approach to math is experimental
In Connie Langland's April 2 article, "He enhances math by teaching the teachers," F. Joseph Merlino claims his new-age math is superior to other approaches. It is therefore incumbent upon Merlino to provide a conclusive body of scientifically valid studies published in peer-reviewed journals to support his claim. However, it turns out that there is no conclusive body of scientifically valid studies to show the programs he pushes are even effective, much less superior to world's best math curricula, the Singapore math curricula.
On May 18, a comprehensive report on the evaluation of mathematics curricula was released; it considered evidence for the efficacy of 19 math curricula, including all of the math curricula that Mr. Merlino pushes. Quoting from the summary on the National Academy of SciencesWeb site (www.nas.edu), "Evaluations of mathematics curricula provide important information for educators, parents, students and curriculum developers, but those conducted to date on 19 specific curricula fall short of the scientific standards necessary to gauge overall effectiveness, says a new report from the National Academies' Mathematical Sciences Education Board. The report recommends a comprehensive, rigorous and scientifically valid evaluation strategy to determine the effectiveness of K-12 mathematics curricula."
In other words, the math curricula that Mr. Merlino touts as superior have not even been proved effective! If they have not been conclusively demonstrated to be effective, they are, by definition, experimental.
Should Mr. Merlino try to peddle his math curricula to your school, just say, "No! We don't want our children experimented on!"
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