An article in yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer profiles one of the few schools in the Delaware Valley to use Singapore Math: the five-year-old Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures Charter School (FACTS) in Philadelphia's Chinatown, whose math scores have risen impressively:
In 2006, 27 percent of fifth graders passed the state math test; this year, as seventh graders, 67 percent passed.For a reaction, the article turns to Janine Remillard, a professor of math education at University of Pennsylvania, who cautions against giving too much credit to the Singapore Math curriculum:
Remillard... said that while Singapore math may be responsible for the improved test scores at FACTS, other curricula - such as Everyday Math, used in many districts around the country, including Philadelphia - have also shown promise when taught well.How true. Good teachers trump nearly everything. Including--though I challenge you to find a math education professor who will admit this--the most "traditional", "drill-and-kill" of math programs.
"A curriculum provides a way of representing the mathematics, but it is only one piece of the puzzle," Remillard said. "How the teacher uses that curriculum is really, really critical."
But the one thing a good teacher can't trump--unless s/he simply tosses most of it out the window--is a curriculum that places too low a ceiling on conceptual challenge.
And that is why Singapore math trumps Everyday Math--and Investigations, and Trailblazers, and Mathland, and Connected Math, and the rest of the lot.