Controversial math program rejected
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
After a vociferous outcry from parents against what they called a controversial math program, the River Dell Regional Board of Education opted not to adopt Connected Mathematics.
The decision last night was in response to a request from the Tri-District Math Committee, which had asked the superintendents of Oradell, River Dell and River Edge to use Connected Mathematics alongside the traditional math curriculum in Grade 7.
“I remain hopeful that the three districts will come together in order to present a unified curriculum for our students so that they can be successful in their future endeavors,” River Dell Superintendent Patrick Fletcher said.
He acknowledged that the board may eventually reconsider. “We’re trying to take our time,” he said. “I hope that this shows to people that we are considering the comments that have been raised by the members of the public.”
The board in River Edge, one of two elementary districts that send students to the regional middle school and high school, approved using Connected Mathematics in the sixth grade. The other district, Oradell, rejected it for sixth-graders in a unanimous vote last week.
Connected Mathematics attempts to foster a deeper understanding of math principles and problem solving, but some parents expressed concerns that the program doesn't focus enough on basic math. Parents who were already on edge about Everyday Mathematics, a similar program for elementary school students used in River Edge and Oradell, were particularly concerned.
Among the numerous parents who complained was Jane Daly, whose fifth-grader started Everyday Mathematics at Roosevelt School in River Edge this year.
“It’s been a lost year for these guys,” Daly said at a meeting for parents at River Dell Middle School last week. “I don’t think my kids are going to have what they need to get good SAT scores.”
Fletcher had said Connected Math would not replace traditional teaching methods, but that apparently did not calm anxious parents.
“I think the basic impression everyone has is that we’re going to throw out every single textbook that we have and throw out every single aspect of the curriculum that’s working now,” Fletcher said at a math forum held at the middle school last week. “That’s not true.”
Fletcher argued that Connected Mathematics would allow students to get a more in-depth understanding of math concepts.
The evidence that Connected Mathematics improves students’ abilities is inconclusive, according to the federal Department of Education. Only one of three studies showed positive results. Two others were inconclusive.