THE QUESTION: The Investigations math curriculum has created a controversy among some parents in the Camdenton School District.


The school says we should give IM a chance to succeed. Some parents say it isn't working and should be dropped.


Which side do you think is right?


THE QUESTION: The Investigations math curriculum has created a controversy among some parents in the Camdenton School District. The school says we should give IM a chance to succeed. Some parents say it isn't working and should be dropped. Which side do you think is right?

“Memorize and regurgitate” math has no more relevance today than black and white TVs
As a former educator I am somewhat nervous when I hear that parents are trying to dictate education  curriculum. I am sure they have valid concerns and the school might have done a better job communicating the change and addressing those concerns.
Currently the U.S. lags in math and science education compared to other industrialized nations. I would hope the school was trying to address this issue.  
I learned math by the “memorize and regurgitate” method, which I think has no more relevance today than the black and white TV I watched.  I was challenged in math by a high school teacher who was able to show me the relevance to things in my life.  
I graduated with a math degree. Our children have tools we never dreamed of to assist them with calculations and they should make full use of them.  But they can fail with these tools if they do not have a “number sense”.  I think it is much more important to estimate and approximate than to memorize the multiplication tables or do long division.  
One more point, in your coverage one parent claimed to be laughed at when checking on I-math.  It is hard to believe that a professional educator would laugh at a concerned parent.  It is easy to believe a sympathetic parent would do so in sympathy.  
I would like to see more coverage on the school's explanation and rationale for the change in the first place. I think we should understand their criteria for success and hold our educators accountable for results without trying to tell them how to do the job.
Craig Bischof
Osage Beach

Innovation in education ought to be applauded
I applaud any teacher/school that uses innovative methods to teach children. Principal Todd Shockley at Hawthorn Elementary has implemented the Investigations methodology, which seems to be working well with some kids although maybe not for all.
The fact that some parents openly questioned the effectiveness is a good sign that they are alert to changes and are personally involved in their child’s education.
All the kids in a class will not learn at an equal rate. This should not surprise anyone because kids have various individual learning styles (as do adults).
The challenge to a teacher is to tweak her/his teaching processes to match his group of young learners. It would seem that Investigations allows this flexibility.
Eldon schools seem to be farther along the learning curve in adapting Investigations in their curriculums. The fact that their MAP scores have not been affected is a worrisome surprise. Hopefully this is being analyzed further by administrators.
I believe it is incumbent upon parents and teachers of elementary-age kids to be proactive in furthering quality education.
Hal Anway
Lake Ozark

Investigating this math shows its flaws, it should be dropped
Investigations was developed between 1990 and 1999. Its goal was to help children understand the fundamental ideas of numbers and arithmetic, geometry, data, measurement and early algebra.
It has a complete lack of presentation of any standard computing methods, and a lack of congruence with any other standards-based math series.
Math test results have declined in the Ridgewood Public Schools since Investigations was introduced. Utah, Bellview School District and Seattle School District have abandoned Investigations. Dale Seymour, the publisher, has abandoned Investigations
Investigations has been frequently cited as being an especially poor standards-based math texts. Complaints are that children spend a lot of time coloring and circling homework papers, and many basic math skills such as regrouping, long division, or computing are either not taught, or discouraged by the teachers.
Complaints against Investigations include a lack of traditional arithmetic content, decimal math, multiplication tables, incompatibility with high-school and international math methods and complex homework assignments.
In Investigations there is no formal presentation of decimal addition. Students are not allowed to use width, height and length to compute a rectangular solid. And they are not instructed in the accepted method of computing an average. In addition, the course is more expensive than the traditional methods. Utah found out that the course materials for a Grade 5 class of 32 was $1,388.42.
It isn’t working elsewhere and I feel it should be discontinued.
Ed Crawford
Camdenton

Investigations math leaves questions unanswered
  Assessment without a child in the program is a very hard topic to address, so I e-mailed a friend. He and his wife are both teachers but not in the Camdenton District.
  I embrace the concept of learning reading, writing and arithmetic based on the English language.
  If children are having difficulty with reading comprehension, I think it would help identify the need for these children to have help achieving skills without ridicule or being labeled under some other program because it engages the other children to help solve the problems together as equals.
Here are my questions for the school board as well as parents of school children;
  1. Is there a flaw in the program?
  2. Was it poorly implemented?
  3. Were teachers properly trained in use of the program?
  4. Is it because it is new to kids that haven’t had to think with a different perspective before, as well teachers and parents?
  5. Are basic math principals being learned with this program?
Carol Ferguson
Montreal