Tuesday, October 21, 2008

An alarming report card on Investigations Math

Pat's teacher is 27 years older than Pat. Pat is 9. How old is Pat's teacher?
Pat's teacher is _______ years old.
This was one of the easiest problems on the assessment I gave the 2nd and 3rd graders who were trying out for the new after-school math team.

Answers among these mathematically inclined students varied alarmingly widely. The most common wrong answer was 27, but there were others.

Many students who got this problem wrong were able to do harder, multi-digit calculations later on in the assessment--harder calculations than what our school's Investigations curriculum offers them. From this, I can't help inferring that they're somehow finding extra-curricular opportunities to calculate.

And whatever, or whoever, the outside influence might be seems to be doing a better job than Investigations does.

For word problems--not hard calculations--are the pride and joy of the Investigations curriculum. 

And even if some of the wrong answers resulted from sloppy reading or poor reading comprehension, Investigations, which cares so much about language arts, should surely have addressed this by now.

Instead: after two or three years of this curriculum even many of the more mathematically inclined of the 2nd and 3rd graders of the highly educated parents that predominate at our school are unable to do a simple word problem involving 27, 9, and a comparison of two different ages.


Mrs. C said...

Sounds like an argument for homeschooling to me! There would be that much more time for outside influence. :]

bky said...

I homeschool my two 4-5th graders. This year I am having them study word problems essentially as a subject unto itself, along with working through Singapore 5. I have learned from seeing their struggles that solving word problems is as much about careful reading as anything else. There are many levels of literacy.