Research Confirms Parents & Teachers’ Fears About Math Instruction

Strong math knowledge is necessary for success and early math skills are an early predictor for success later in math.

Parents and knowledgeable teachers know this, but the current Problem Solving – Discovery curriculum does not stress mastery for basic math skills such as math facts or pencil and paper practice of standard math procedures.

Teachers spend countless hours trying to reach students who find math a challenge. Parents face a battle during homework sessions because the math assignments have an unfamiliar look and feel from those of the past.

The most recent commentary  from the C.D. Howe Institute documents our school curriculum’s inability to provide student’s with strong foundational math skills that will meet international standards. In the commentary, author Anna Stokke examines domestic and international evidence in three areas of provincial programs that impact student success or lack of it in Canadian Schools. The report places the responsibility for the downward trend in math scores on the Discovery-based math instruction currently favoured in schools today.  It boldly states that it should be a policy priority to implement changes that will reverse the trend and improve math achievement for Canadian children.

The report can be found  at www. http://www.cdhowe.org

Key Recommendations include:

1. Direct-instructional techniques work better than discovery-based techniques. Teachers should follow a 80/20 Rule and devote at least 80% of their instructional time to direct instructional techniques.

2. Remove ineffective instructional curricula and streamline focus to explicit concepts that have been shown to impact and predict later success in math.

3. Improve the math content knowledge in early and middle school teacher education so that teachers are both comfortable and knowledgeable in transmitting math knowledge to their students.

Marilyn Wardrop

OG Academic Math Instructor

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