Monday, September 06, 2010

Disconnecting from Connected Math

There is An Alternative to Connected Math

Parents who care about their children's math education despair when their children are stuck in the Connected Math program. In Plano, Texas, astute parents use a variety of methods to save their children's education. Popular options include (1) private schools, (2) home schooling, (3) moving to Fisco or Allen, Texas, (4) private tutoring, and (5) parental tutoring.

A large number of families in Plano are from Asia and the parents enroll their children in Plano public schools, but send their children to private schools on Saturday or Sunday to study math. Some of these children are years ahead of their classmates and their parents have asked for special classes for them in PISD so they don't waste their time with the curriculum PISD offers everyone else.

The PISD administration knows the district's reputation rides on the backs of star students, so PISD developed a special math curriculum called Math Rocks for those children who have been receiving their math education outside the Plano ISD. Some of these parents take pride in their children being years ahead of their classmates and you will see on page 14 of the Math Rocks presentation that some children will be able to take Calculus in 10th grade, Differential Equations and Number Theory in 11th grade, and then Abstract Algebra and Multi-variable Calculus in 12th grade.

Bravo! If you want to study math at Harvard or Princeton, this is a minimum to compete at the highest level. But notice that this is not Connected Math. Obviously Connected Math is not the best math program or these top-flight students would be taking it. So why do your children get stuck with Connected Math? Is it possible the average student is stuck with an inferior curriculum because the Plano ISD administration does not care about the education of the average student? Might it be that the PISD only cares about the stars who give the district it's reputation for excellence?

The best math students in Plano have disconnected from Connected Math. Why are your children stuck with an inferior program? Clearly there are better choices for our students than Connected Math, but the parents have to find a way to provide their children with the quality math education that the Plano ISD refuses to provide.

Discerning Parents Consistently Oppose Connected Math

For years, all across America, discerning parents have investigated Connected Math and found it deficient.
In Plano, Texas
At Prince William County in Manassas, Virginia
and the State College Area School District in State College, Pennsylvania

Most American parents, however, do not have the math skills to perceive the problems with the Connected Math curriculum. This includes the school administrators who have selected the Connected Math curriculum. Connected Math is taking a bad situation and making it worse; it is increasing the mathematics achievement gap in America.

Taking Action

Parents who appeal to their neighbors during school board elections fail to persuade their neighbors to vote against school board members who accept Connected Math. If we are ever to win elections, we first have to persuade the electorate to care about mathematics.

Perhaps what is really needed is a proselytizing effort across communities to persuade parents that math skills are important, that math can be fun, and that their children will benefit from a more rigorous math curriculum. This would go a long way to improving the quality of education in America.

In the mean time, if your child is stuck in a Connected Math curriculum and you do not want to pull your child from his or her school, then you better find a way to provide your child a good math education outside of the school room. Some suggestions can be found in this blog: Surviving Connected Math.

Robert Canright

(1). The PISD presentation says this about program entry:
Averaged MAP score > 2 standard deviations above the District mean
3rd Graders: > 3 standard deviations above the mean
What is 2 or 3 standard deviations (sigma)? Here's what Wikipedia says about 3 sigma:
>2 sigma means the top 5%
>3 sigma means the top 0.2%
(2). If you have trouble reading the Math Rocks PDF file with one browser, try another. My Firefox had trouble but Google's Chrome has no trouble. I did fix Firefox by installing the latest Adobe plugin.

PS 4-27-2017 for Ramana's comment:
There is a PDF document about the Math Rocks program that has contact information
There is no date on this PDF file.  The PDF has this contact information :
Ms. Whitney Evans, Secondary Mathematics Coordinator,
Mrs. Julia Haun, Elementary Mathematics Coordinator,
Good luck!