*Inability to teach mathematical principles results in student unpreparedness*

**Siyavash Fooladian**, Staff Writer

**Consequently, the CPM program inadequately prepares students for the higher math courses, such as Pre-Calculus and Calculus, and should be eliminated from Poly’s math curriculum.**

The CPM program falls short in its organization of material, ability to promote individual thinking, and test taking methodology.

The problem with the CPM program does not become evident until CPM students enter the traditional pre-calculus level. Poly’s math teachers have noticed a growing trend of CPM students performing poorly in the pre-calculus classes due to their lack of knowledge. According to one of Poly’s math teachers, *“CPM students are not prepared for pre- calculus and end up struggling throughout the year because of it.”*

One cannot blame the teachers for the lack of student preparedness because all teachers who teach the CPM algebra, geometry, or algebra two courses must complete summer CPM workshops in which they learn how to present the material to the students. The problem lies in the organization of the material. Not only is the material not organized well, but it does not allocate sufficient time for the topics that the students will need to fully understand higher level courses. In the algebra two CPM course, students cover the conics and trigonometry lessons in two chapters. In the traditional algebra two class, students cover the same material in three chapters, spending the majority of the fourth quarter in preparation for pre-calculus. A Poly math teacher states, *“The fundamentals for trigonometry are not being taught in CPM.”*Furthermore, another math teacher, who did not wish to be identified, commented that the CPM program allocates limited amounts of time for the teaching of slopes, conics, trigonometry, and common denominators. How can students be expected to succeed in math if they do not learn the basics in the developing stages of their math careers?

The program also fails to promote individual thinking and growth. CPM centers on group work and cooperation. Although learning to work effectively as a group is important to one’s ability to succeed, the CPM groups promote student dependency instead. Some students read the material and discover the theorems, while other group members sit idly and copy off of their peers. Although teachers try to balance groups, it does not always work. Thus, the groups hinder rather than aid students’ ability to learn the material; the only thing the groups effectively do is allow students to get in the habit of copying others’ work rather than learning the material for themselves.

Furthermore, the test taking methods of the CPM program differ from the the traditional style of test taking. The CPM curriculum allows correlation between the CPM program’s ability to effectively teach mathematical principles and student performance on the math portions of standardized tests. The results show that students with two or more years of CPM mathematics received lower scores than students in the traditional program.

If CPM cannot organize mathematical principles properly, promote individual thinking, or prepare students for standardized exams, why are teachers using this method to teach math? If state and district school officials are truly dedicated to preparing students for the future, they will eliminate the CPM program.

**The Spotlight** Polytechnic High School — Riverside, California — November, 1996

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