(TTSD) Math Experiences
Fairfield Parents and Students have very similar stories to the TigardTualatin School District. We are not alone! Students come home from math classes feeling frustrated and saying they used to enjoy math but they hate math under the new CPM curriculum!

Parents are soothing crying and frustrated children!

Students feel a responsibility to try and guide other students through the problems so that all at the table are proficient. No one moves ahead until everyone masters the concept.

Students who loved math and excelled in math last year are struggling with the new CPM instructional method (group learning; group grades; limited teacher instruction). They do not look forward to math class!

Students are receiving A’s in this math, but when working with their parents at home, parents are finding their children know very little.

Students state CPM lacks new and challenging content. .. My daughter asked me if she really had to waste her time drawing boxes, using tiles and guessing for answers.

Student rely on others in the group for answers.

Students state that some groups spend most of the time arguing over the answer. The student who has “bullied” them with their work submits the group answer sometimes the answer is wrong, resulting in a poor group grade.

Students who did well in CPM classes then later transfer to priviate school are usually a year behind. CPM does not translate well to traditional math in private schools.

Students who don’t understand a concept and don’t want to be perceived as “dumb” or don’t want to be teased by the group, will remain quite and pretend to understand. Kids do not want to stand OUT!

Students are frustrated with the use of guess and check table to write an equation if they can already write an equation without it. Even if they get the answer on the first guess, they are required to make several guesses.

Students are frustrated with using algebra tiles to combine like terms. It is time consuming when one can either do it in his or her head or just write it out on paper.

CPM is not for everyone, as students have different styles of learning. We need to adhere to their individual needs not to the “group” needs.

CPM textbook is so disjointed.

Traditional Textbook provides examples and explanations that are clear and concise.

CPM Homework doesn’t even pertain to a new concept that they are learning.

CPM Homework is sometimes on material never covered and isn’t even explained in the text.

CPM instructional teaching format is exclusively peer teaching.

CPM deemphasizes memorizing formulas, concepts and math facts.

CPM curriculum discourages opportunities for those that are advanced to be placed in an advanced program.

CPM math is about social skill building and the teacher cannot teach the class as a whole.

CPM curriculum Should be a CHOICE or Bring Back a stronger curriculum
CPM geometry has been a nightmare for our family this year. My son has grown to hate math, a subject you once loved. Our family has been given the nightly job of working to try to get what we can from this program. We try to do our best to ensure that our son can pass the class and that he comes out knowing something about geometry. Class time is largely a waste of time. The group work takes little time and the class as a whole sits around for a great deal of time. The teacher will not do much to help the kids, typically telling them to work in their groups to find the answers to problems they don’t understand. They flounder and give up and just sit there. By the end of class they have wasted 90 minutes and know very little about their math. At night the kids and their families spend a lot of time doing the math that should have been explained in class. It is very frustrating as a parent to be required to do the job of the teacher. I cannot understand how the school district allows this math curriculum to go on. Anyone can see that the teachers are not teaching math here, instead they are facilitating group work. The school district needs to give us a math program in which the teachers actually teach. It is a waste of resources to have the teachers doing this. Our family is looking into our options for something else for next year. All of our options will cost us money, which we should not have to pay. Our school district needs to be educating our kids and in this case they are not. 3/15/2009
I have 3 children who are using CPM math. Two are in middle school and one is in high school. For all 3, this has not been a good experience. My youngest who has been very bright in math, is getting B’s and C’s now instead of her usual A. She finds it boring and so does not try as hard. My youngest and oldest (the high schooler) dislike the group work a lot. They say only a few kids do the work and when they don’t understand it their teachers are of little help, instead they are to figure it out in their group. My middle child is getting an A in this math. But when we work with him at home (and we do just about every night) we find he knows very little. He is totally confused and so we have had to go back to more basic math and work with him. Yet he is getting an A which I suspect is related to his group doing his work for him. I only hope he has a group later in life to depend on to figure things out. My high schooler says most of her class doesn’t want to work and goofs off during class time. She absolutely hates math this year and is trying to find another option for next year. We are also thinking of other alternatives. We work at home with all three and have gone outside their curriculums to bring in better math curriculum for them to work on. My husband and I are not very pleased with having to spend much of our evenings working on math because they are not getting it at school. My daughter has always loved math and done very well. She excelled in math last year and was looking forward to Algebra this year. She was very disappointed when she found out that this was not an option for her. She has been frustrated all year. She will get the answer right by using a technique she learned last year by her math teacher but because she didn’t do it the CPM way the answer is wrong. She feels as she goes into high school she will not be as prepared. I have already dealt with a similar incident with my son with IMP math which was a choice when he was in school. He did well in the class but because he ended up attending a private school it didn’t translate well to traditional math taught at his current school. As a result he is a year behind. I take full responsibility for that decision. I should have done my homework and then made a decision. But lots of parents and teachers were telling me it was the new best thing and it would translate well to high school. This time I didn’t even get a chance. I don’t want my child’s class to be another experiment that doesn’t go well. I hear conversations from her friends about how they are also struggling and they are usually “A” students in Math. My daughter is put in a group that does not work well together and because only one answer from the group is randomly chosen her grade is suffering. Also the group spends most of the time arguing over the answer and either runs out of time and has to submit something or the one that has “bullied” them with their work submits their answer and it is ALWAYS wrong. Please tell me what is fair in that. Her math teacher tells them that he is learning it too so how is he supposed to teach it to them if he is trying to figure it out. She is VERY UNHAPPY and FRUSTRATED and now dreads what used to be her favorite subject. 3/13/2009
Our daughter is in high school and has always been a hard working math student, meaning she always had to work a little harder to get a good grade, but she was willing and did so. This year, her experience has been that when she’s in class, the teacher does not instruct and does not explain concepts, but just hands out work to table groups. When she’s in a group with a smart person, she relaxes, learns a little, but relies on that smart person. When she’s been at another table where she’s the “smart person” she ends up trying to explain concepts she doesn’t fully understand to kids who don’t even want to be there. Then she feels the stress of feeling responsible for their grade. As at least one other parent has commented, she does fine with homework because she always turns it in and uses a math website to self correct before turn in. The proof of her level of understanding comes with test, quiz and final scores which are in the 65%75% area. After years of exceeding state benchmarks and enjoying math, it’s clear that CPM is simply not working and causing stress to students who already have enough to worry about. I am fortunate that my high school son is not currently affected by the implementation of the CPM program. My older son is a recent graduate and is currently enrolled in college in an engineering program. During the admissions interview process, we were surprised to find that the IB Exam that he took and scored extremely well on was not respected by the colleges. The level of IB math he tested in was the lowest level of three math tests provided by the IB program and was not considered adequate knowledge by the Engineering Department of every school my son applied to. The only course that had any merit was an AP Calculus class that my son received PCC credit for because the instructor was certified to do so. I am concerned that this new math program will no longer provide the opportunity for any kids to excel. I am concerned that two math teachers I respected are no longer working in the district. I am actively researching options for a math program that will ensure my child is prepared to enter the Engineering program at any college he chooses. I am frustrated that I can not depend on TTSD to provide that for my child. 3/12/2009
I want to convey another side of what I think is wrong with the CPM curriculum – Specifically, the lack of any direct instruction. My daughter is not one of the students who has been identified as gifted. She works hard and is bright and motivated. She is much stronger in reading and writing than in math, but has exceeded benchmark for the past 3 years on the state test in math. Prior to this year, teachers used an approach to teaching math that consisted of a cycle of instruction, practice, and assessment. This approach (the opposite of CPM) enabled her to be successful. While there will be kids who intuitively “get” math and can score well on the quizzes even without instruction, my child cannot. I really am trying to make the point that ALL of our kids deserve the kind of math instruction that they need, not just the gifted students. Although some feel there is no new content being introduced, I would argue that there is indeed some. My daughter has been successful this year with last year’s material (and there is plenty), but when something new is expected, she struggles because she is being taught by other students, rather than the teacher. Further, she is one of the kids who relies on other students during group work. This is not because she is dumb or lazy, but because she is shy and smart. She is smart enough to know that she doesn’t understand and doesn’t want to be teased by her group or perceived as “dumb”. She is also a quiet, shy kid who doesn’t want to stand out. So, she goes along with the kids who “get it” and gets a good grade. While this really troubles me, I suspect that this is a reality for many students who don’t want to be embarrassed in front of their peers and want to get a good grade. When they know they don’t know how to solve a problem and the teacher refers them back to their group for help, what else is a child to do? Our main concern about the current CPM Algebra Connections class is the lack of new or challenging content. My daughter took PreAlgebra and the some Algebra 1. Now in March, my daughter has encountered material in only one section of the CPM text books with which she was not very familiar and that section was not challenging. Everything else has been a rehash of old material. Because she knows the material so well, the group activities with the tiles seem tedious and pointless, like learning your letters when you already know how to read. Recently, an activity used a staircase to explain slope. She has known and understood slope since 5th grade. Students in all math courses should be exposed to new and challenging information. 3/11/2009
My son came home today complaining that his teacher will no longer give homework assignments in advance. The teacher says the students need to stay together in class and working ahead on homework is not allowed. It’s hard enough for these kids to get anything out of these books, now we can’t let them get homework done in advance because other kids can’t or won’t do their work. Additionally, my son received only 75% on a team test because one member of the group refused to do the test. This group concept is completely out of hand. Some of these students think it’s fun to be able to negatively impact the grades of other students. How can our teachers accept this as okay? What is wrong with this district? I have been augmenting my middle school student’s math for this entire year. And she’s getting tired of having to do math in school and then do math at home. Unfortunately, if I don’t work with her now, she will surely not be able to succeed moving forward and beyond (way past anywhere CPM could take her). Thankfully, she understands that and appreciates that I help. It’s when she asks, “Why doesn’t the school want to teach math anymore?” that I just don’t have an answer. I can’t understand why the district doesn’t seriously consider all these complaints coming from parents. Every year I hear from principals, teachers, counselors and the like saying they want parents involved in their children’s education. I hear how too many parents don’t care what happens at school and are not checking in with their kids enough. Then, when we do start asking questions and show how involved we are, when we display a real concern for what’s going on, we get patted on the head and told to go away. The disrespect coming from the district is unconscionable. So they really think I have nothing to offer (except my checkbook and my time) in terms of understanding my child and what works for her. Do they truly believe they KNOW my child better than I do? I have to say, I know this district has some amazing teachers, but still, not one of those amazing teachers KNOWS my child better than I do and I bet those teachers would be willing to admit it! I have already decided that I’m pulling both my children from TTSD math. My high schooler begs me everyday to take math from a different school. My middle schooler is so confused by what’s happening in class, that he absolutely dreads going to math. I can’t say that I blame him for being confused. There is virtually NO INSTRUCTION given in the book. And whatever topic is supposed to be covered in each chapter is barely practiced. These kids have no idea what they are supposed to be learning. Thank goodness I know how to do real math or my kids would be struggling more. I really feel bad for parents who don’t have the time or the math knowledge to work with their kids. Those kids will pay an incredible price for the poor decisions of this district. 3/10/2009
First, I would like to say I am not an educator nor do I feel I am qualified to technically evaluate this program. BUT, I am a parent and can share my personal experience with this program. I have had 4 kids pass through TTSD from start to finish. These kids have been all over the board academically from learning disabled to TAG. My one child is still in TTSD in middle school. He is a straight A student, designated TAG and VERY self motivated. However, my son has been frustrated with this math program from day one.
A sampling of a few of his complaints/comments are as follows:
“I did some of this math in the 3rd grade.” “Kids in my group are talking about hamsters while I do all the work so I can be sure to get a good grade.” “I am bored.” This is a kid who works hard, willingly does his homework and excels due to his own self motivation. He has goals of attending MIT and is already asking questions about the appropriate path to take in high school to achieve that goal. My concerns are many about this program.
1. Why is my child not doing math that is stimulating and appropriate to his skill level?
2. Is my child going to enter HS with one math credit already earned like we were originally told?
3. When he gets to HS, will he have a choice between CPM and a traditional math path?
4. Why is my child required to guide a group and do the lion’s share of the work for his group in order to assure a good grade for himself? Personally, I would like the option to opt out of CPM and take a more traditional math approach. The only thing I personally see happening is that my son is falling behind when he should be steaming ahead with his ability level. Please be clear, that if the situation were different and I were addressing the needs of a child with more difficulties in math, I would be just as concerned. If a child is struggling and grouped with kids who are high achievers, how is that child learning anything if someone else is doing the work? Once again, I am not an expert but I can say for sure that I see very little, if any, benefits from this math program for my child. If this curriculum is not eliminated, I will be looking for other, accredited ways, for my son to get his math education. 3/9/2009
My son has completely lost his interest in math this year with CPM. Previously he liked math and was good at it. After trying to teach himself all year, he has started to feel that this is a big waste of time. He realizes that he learns very little and they keep rotating back to the same material continually. It is boring and the class time is largely spent goofing around. These kids aren’t capable of taking a subject like math and teaching it to themselves. That is the job of the teacher, not other 1415 year old students. The book is virtually useless. Those of us who have had careers in math related fields can hardly understand it. The minute I saw that paperback book I knew that it would be torn up in no time. Guess what, I was right! It seems that our district should have been able to make a better choice than CPM. What were they thinking? I worked really hard to keep an A in the advanced math class I was in last year and now I’m having to repeat everything, including things we did in elementary school. Why don’t I get to continue on the course I was on last year? I was told as a sixth grader that I would be finished with the first year of high school math by the time I finished 8th grade. Now I’m having to repeat everything, as if I failed in the past. Please let me go back to the old curriculum. I was looking forward to moving forward in math. Now I don’t care if I ever learn this math. My daughter was in CPM last semester. She has always loved math, but she was not doing well. She stated there was too much group work, no direct teaching, and the textbook was too confusing and hard to understand. At the end of the semester, she received the worst grade she has ever had in math and was very upset. I have now taken my daughter out of CPM and put her back into a traditional math class where she is now getting an A. My daughter is much happier and is loving math again. 3/7/2009
We are looking into online schools or private schools. My daughter dislikes math so much she is ready to give up her friends, her band experience and any other group activities to fix this. My son is an advanced student in Geometry. He is tired of teaching the other students to do the math, so he does the math quickly and lets the other students copy him. The group then spends the rest of the group time drawing pictures or playing calculator games. One of their favorite games involves each member of the group adding 1 on their calculators as fast as they can to see who can get to the highest number before group work ends. The winner got to 10,000! This is our tax dollars and CPM at work. My sixth grader who has always excelled in math has been struggling with “proportions” otherwise known as fractions. He was apparently not taught how to reduce everything to the lowest common denominator to solve a problem and then convert back to whole numbers and reduce from there (this is how I was taught). I discovered that he was encouraged to guess at answers and was not encouraged to check his own work by working backwards (of course “how can you work backwards if you can’t work forwards?”, I asked myself). Then I heard that he thought he had proportions figured out because another kid apparently taught him… but he discovered that the other kid didn’t teach him correctly. It’s incredibly frustrating to watch an otherwise bright child start to be filled with selfdoubt simply because he lacks a true teacher that is actively participating in the success of the students. I have had to take a much more active role – helping him with math – to the point where I feel like I am nearly home schooling him. I am livid and seriously considering private school even though that means giving up great programs like Band… Math is just too important not to learn it right the first time. How in the world did CPM get chosen? My daughter complained about math class today. The class was using graphing calculators and nobody understood how to use them. The teacher would not help and wanted the groups to figure it out. In the end, one of the boys in the group did the problem for the rest of the group and everyone else ended class still not knowing how to do the problem. What a waste of time! The kids should not be teaching each other. The teacher needs to be in that role and make sure the students understand what they are doing. 3/5/2009
My daughter whom is a straight ‘A’ student says, “I’m not learning anything new yet, we are getting a new book this Friday.” HUH? This is already past half a year and she has yet to learn anything new and challenging. NOT GOOD. Now her motivation is rapidly declining in math. She loved math before and was considering math/science as her career choice at that time. Now, she has lost her drive because of this new CPM course. We need to intervene FAST before the lack of interest gets worse. My daughter is in middle school and up until now was doing very well in math with little assistance from me. Could this be because before she was being taught and applying the correct learning skills with a proven math curriculum so the students would learn correctly? So now, after several weeks working up to three hours a night on teaching her how to solve the equation, my trying to learn this new type of math since I could not show her my easier methods that my dad taught me, countless emails to the school, and the final straw – my daughter getting a F on the test, I decided to pay a visit to her math class. I was in shock as I observed how the math was being taught! The first thing I noticed was how learnerdriven this program is. This would be fine if adult learners were sitting at the desks but these are children! There was no evidence of checking for understanding before moving on, no correct teaching method explaining how the problem was to be solved, no having the children practice how the problem should be solved, no follow up of checking work or asking questions and making sure ALL the students felt comfortable about the problem before moving on. A quick review of “remember last week we did this problem” was the only reference to building on previous learning. Next, new problems were assigned to the “group” – oh this is productive learning especially when the boy at my daughters table got an ‘F’ on his test. So, who is teaching who at my daughter’s table since this new math is about social skill building and the teacher cannot teach the class as a whole? I observed with a dropped jaw as the teacher walked around the tables replying when a student asked for help, “Oh, your table can figure it out; ask the other students.” Aren’t the students able to ask for help from their teacher? We sure could when I was in school. So what has changed? The way they are teaching our kids has changed! There is no evidence of building on previous methods, so how is this going to help my daughter when she is taking Stats in college? “Oh yes, we touched on that problem once in grade school then we tabled it for the rest of the year without ever referring back to it”. This style of math is not setting up our kids to succeed in higher level math courses. I am committed to work with my daughter every night so she can get the grades and math understanding she needs to be accepted into college with or without the support of the district – which we as tax payers are paying for. Leave no child left behind…. 3/4/2009
My daughter has always been a good math student who identified math as a favorite subject. Now she is completely bored and frustrated and hates math. She says she is being asked to work on math that she already learned in elementary school. I have asked the school about providing a greater math challenge for our daughter, but thus far absolutely nothing has changed. Our daughter is frustrated with the group work as the groups are not selected according to ability and the other kids in her group hold her back. Due to the complete inability of the school to teach our daughter math, we will be engaging a private tutor for her over the summer and may need to enroll her in a private math program on an ongoing basis. While the school is failing her, we as parents will not. My high schooler has been frustrated with the Geometry class she has been in this year. Her first complaint was about the books and how she can’t believe they actually expect kids to put them in notebooks and keep them in perfect condition for the whole year. She said there was no way most of her classmates would be able to do that. Her second complaint was that it is way too easy and very boring. She says the whole program is way too slow. Now, she is at the point where she is begging me to send her to summer school for Algebra 2 so that next fall she can be in IB Pre Calc – out of CPM, and hopefully be challenged. I never thought I would ever hear my child beg me to take summer school, let alone math, so that she can move ahead to something more challenging. I am sad for her that she would give up part of her summer because the math program at her high school is too slow and she doesn’t have any other choice. My daughter isn’t the only one thinking about this. She was recently in the car with a friend and out of the blue the friend asked her mom if she can take math this summer to move ahead. My daughter is currently taking math in middle school. She takes individual, partner and group tests that all affect her overall grade. After taking a partner test my daughter looked over the entire test, including the parts done by her partner. She said that her partner had missed several problems that he did not want to correct because he was busy doing homework for another class. My daughter corrected her partner’s errors and they both received a score of 100% on the test. Had my daughter not gone back to double check her partner’s work she would have received a score that she did not earn. As it turned out, her partner received a score that he did not earn. That is a loselose situation in my book. 3/3/2009
My daughter’s math experience thus far has been either 1)material from elementary school that she has already mastered OR 2) new material that is not explained by the teacher, just given to groups of eleven year olds to figure out. It appears that she is doing OK, since she is getting a B in math. However, on closer examination of her scores, it becomes clear that she is not doing well. Her B grade is due to the fact that she always turns in her homework and full credit is given for turning it in. Her class work grades are also all 100 % because it is exclusively group work. The quiz scores must then reflect her true level of understanding since this is the only work that is individual and graded for accuracy. These scores have often been in the 65% range. It is obvious to me that my daughter is not understanding many of the concepts. In elementary school, where math was taught explicitly with a direct instruction approach, she did very well. In fact, she exceeded benchmark on the state test. Clearly, the CPM curriculum is not meeting the needs of all learners! We are seriously considering homeschooling our son next year because of CPM. We are looking closely at various online schools, independent study courses, web academies, Village Home Education Resource Center, Portland Community College and Portland State. We will not subject our son to another year of CPM math. We aren’t going to sacrifice his learning on the altar of “just giving this a chance to work.” Slapping a happy face on it isn’t going to make up for all the kids in this district who will bomb the ACT/SAT in coming years and possibly miss the opportunity for college scholarships and acceptance into the university of their choice. It has become clear to us that TTSD is more concerned about trying to justify their investment of materials and cost of training than doing what is truly in the best interest of students in this district. The exasperating bureaucracy and disregard of the very parents who pay the taxes to support schools and vote for board members is getting old. Enough is enough. My son came home yesterday and as soon as he walked in the door he announced that he “hates” math. I said, “Why, what happened?” He responded that, “It is not fair that we keep doing the same repetitive problems over and over again. It is just busy work. Advanced math is not challenging and for advanced problems they are just the same repetitive problems over and over again.” He apparently had 8 problems to do that he had already done before. It is just “busy work” and a waste of time. AND I agree… 3/2/2009 My daughter missed a math class this year and upon her return to math class the next day, her table group told her that they really missed her. She was feeling pretty good about herself until she came to realize that they only missed her because they didn’t have her to come up with all the answers for their table the day she was gone. She has one kid at her table that has openly admitted that he doesn’t care about school and won’t even attempt to try and work out the problems on his own. She feels a responsibility to try and guide him through the problems so that all at the table are proficient. She says that he simply listens to her explanation and then says ok “what is the answer”, without making any effort to do it on his own. In addition this kid insists on harassing her and saying inappropriate things that make her very uncomfortable. She has finally had enough and asked to be moved from this kid. Now I ask should a young child be asked to “teach” a presumably unteachable kid? Should she be subject to spending time helping the other kids in her table group understand the concepts, especially when she has one that is a special needs kid, one who could care less about being there, and a couple others that want to do nothing but talk about what shows they watched the previous night? Should she be spending valuable learning time being dragged down by those with lower skill levels and therefore not improving her own? Should she be working on concepts that she learned years ago? Or should she be progressing and preparing for what lies ahead? My son was in private school K8 and is now in high school. He has always been an “A” math student. However, math has never come easy for him and his “A’s” have been hard earned through the years. Now, my son’s geometry class is filled with unmotivated and
underperforming peers (an “unlucky” draw I am told). Because of the group testing and scoring, my son is now a “B” math student, despite his continued personal efforts. Conversely, I am in stunned by the fact that the administration can not see the real reason why the students who historically have not done well in math are now (miraculously) getting better grades. It is not because they are suddenly able to teach themselves math (when they were previously unable to understand math even with actual teaching). No, it is because students like my son beg their unmotivated peers to copy in order to elevate the group grades. The sad part is, as a parent, I don’t discourage the cheating. Why should my son’s grade be diluted by peers who do not care about school? My son is lucky in that I understand geometry and can (and do) take the time to teach him. We have math class at home almost every evening. I am seriously considering another option for math next year. I can not imagine how the kids who don’t get this extra help at home are learning. 2/27/2009
My daughter recently came home and thanked me for teaching her math. We’ve been doing battle all year over my insisting she learn to do the CPM math problems the way I know how to do traditional math — which of course requires even more time doing math on top of the busy work she is often assigned for homework. The pay off is that she came home the other day and thanked me for having taught her how to do the problems that I thought crucial to her math education because otherwise she would not have known how to do several problems that were on the most recent STATE TEST. Never mind the frustration with the nightly busy work and the review of material she’s known since elementary school or her frustration with feeling like she’s back in kindergarten. If she can’t do the problems presented on the state test based on what they learn in class why on earth are we using this curriculum? I have a middle school student. I had no inkling the math program was different this year until I asked my daughter’s teachers if she would be elevated into a higher math program at our fall conferences. They informed us that the program was the same for all skill levels. Shortly thereafter I had to soothe my crying child who was frustrated about the fact she was now doing 3rd grade work again. When I asked her to explain she showed me one of her story problems from that day. It went something like this: Sally has 3 soft candies and 7 chocolate candies that she puts into a bag. How many total candies are in her bag? The next question expanded on this theme: Now Sally has 7 bags, how many total candies does she have? Another question asked her to do a subtraction problem that went something like this: 1,047 – 892= To solve this the children were asked to draw a line in the middle of their paper draw 1,047 boxes above the line, and 892 below. Then they were to cross out one for one box above and below the line. What was left was their answer. My daughter asked me if she really had to waste her time drawing these boxes or could she just “solve the problem mathematically”. Again this was below grade level work. This program may work for some kids and even be ideally suited for kids with different learning styles than the traditional math teaches to. But why should my kid along with many others that are bound for successful lives, be held back by those who don’t care? Why should the format of teaching be exclusively peer teaching, why is it bad that they are asked to memorize formulas, concepts and math facts, and most of all why isn’t there an opportunity for those that are advanced to be placed in an advanced program? We have attended the meetings that TTSD has had with parents and we have spoken up, and complained to anyone that would listen. I hope this gets through to the school district that we are not happy about this situation and we want it to change. 2/26/2009
We have two children in TigardTualatin schools. Simply put, it is our experience to date that the CPM curriculum seems to engage the concept of FACILITATING rather than TEACHING, while disengaging the concept of personal accountability. This is a slippery slope. In the workforce of the future, those that have a greater sense of personal accountability to succeed will likely be better equipped to be successful. To us, it appears CPM is flawed at a most fundamental level. My biggest concern with CPM math is the lack of concern for where our students should be placed based on ability. In elementary school, they are grouped with children of similar math ability. Kids who struggle are in a lower group getting more one on one attention and high achieving students are in an advanced group where they are able to excel based on ability. Depending on the school there could be 4 teachers with varying groups of kids with vastly different math abilities. Now that my son is in middle school, he is lumped in with kids that are both struggling and excelling in the program. The kids who are advanced are bored, and the kids struggling do not understand the material and are confused. Our classrooms need to reflect the varying degree of ability in math. This program does not help the advance math student or the struggling math student. This program has the potential to lose both groups in the process. My son has always excelled in math and it has always been one of his favorite subjects. He is not one to complain, but in a recent conversation, he admitted to me that math is no longer one of his favorite subjects. He tells me CPM is not a challenge for him and he is bored in class. He says he’s tired of all the busy work when he already understands what he is doing. He also does not think it is fair that he gets answers correct, but gets marked wrong because the teacher graded someone else’s test in his group. TTSD needs to take a good hard look at their current math program and reevaluate whether they are serving the needs of all children. I will not let my son rot in this curriculum much longer. This curriculum isn’t helping me learn. I feel like I am stuck in a baby class doing art with little cut out pieces of paper and drawing pictures that don’t even help. They just make it more confusing. I’m always put at a table group with kids who need extra help, because the teacher knows I understand the math and expects me to help the other students. When is someone going to teach me? 2/25/2009
I have two kids in the TTSD and up until now have been very happy with their education. In fact, we purposely stayed in our entry level home because we have been thrilled with the schools. Both of my kids are honor students. I realize kids all learn differently and at different levels. But what the district has done by forcing us into this new math program has just dumbed down the whole math curriculum. My younger child has been grouped with kids who either have no interest in learning, rarely do their homework, and just plain don’t “get it”. He has to try and teach his group in order to maintain his “A”. What he has figured out is if he does a lot of extra credit, he can keep his “A”, despite the group grades. He says he has learned almost nothing this year and is frustrated by the groupings. He complains that he has “done all this before, in elementary school and is not learning anything new”. Also, I noticed the new books are paperback. How does the district expect these flimsy books to hold up year after year? Lucky for us, they will fall apart and then the district will be forced to buy real math books. My main concern is that my younger son will not be prepared for IB math that is coming in high school. We are making our top students teach our bottom students in an attempt to try something new. A little bit of this, with the right instruction from a teacher, with the right math books, with separate – not group – tests might be acceptable. But what is going on now is not going to prepare our students for the math they have in their future. I hope the TTSD wakes up and sees the writing on the wall sooner rather than later and quits using our children as guinea pigs for their new math experiment. It failed. Get rid of it. My son learned how to add positive and negative numbers in elementary school. Problems like 22(10) were part of the curriculum and he could solve them easily. Now, he is required to use +’s and ’s to “show” his work. Seeing 40 some +’s on his page in order to show something is ridiculous, particularly given the fact he knows how to do it already. I’ve looked through the rest of his books and there is maybe one or two minor things that he hasn’t already learned from elementary school. I CANNOT BELIEVE THE DISTRICT FEELS FINE WITH TEACHING OUR KIDS NOTHING IN MATH! Let’s get on with real math. 2/24/2009
I am concerned about the current math curriculum at the higher levels. What baffles me the most is that this process should be a nobrainer. First of all, most, if not all, school districts in the country and state who have implemented these programs years ago are now rejecting them. Why does Tualatin/Tigard think they can do any better? What this program teaches is how to be a future employee of Burger King, not a medical doctor, engineer, actuary, etc. For the kids who are apparently doing great with this program, I would like to know how they are doing in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Computer Science. The sciences teach science which takes into consideration certain understandings of algorithmic mathematics to get through these classes. I would really like to hear the science teachers explain how this mathematics will further advance their students. Personally I spent many years studying math in high school and college and not one class in 16 years of math education incorporated a group to solve problems. Yes, not all students learn at the same rate, but if the school district will not allow a choice, then I will make my own choice – with private tutoring, charter school, or a private school education. At least this way, I know my child will have a fighting chance at the next level. Isn’t that what K12 education is all about? The CPM textbook is so disjointed. Every night I look at what my son does for homework. It is all over the map and doesn’t even pertain to a new concept that they are learning. Sometimes, the homework is on something that’s never been covered and isn’t even explained in the text. Oh, and wait a minute, there is almost no explanation or examples in the textbook at all. For example, he had a problem where he had to do a conversion of so many gallons into pints. I see no explanation on how they should be making sure that when they are doing unit conversions to make sure the units are able to cancel out. I pulled out a traditional text and there is a clear and concise explanation on how to do unit conversions and there is even an example. So does CPM expect my child to discover this important fact? via osmosis? Please give us a choice or bring back a stronger curriculum. 2/23/2009
It appears that we are more focused on how to teach and what needs to be taught according to state tests than what needs to be taught for the real world. I continue to read all of the examples of what is happening. I fear that my son’s learning curve will come to a complete halt if we stay with TTSD. I’m very aware that we do have options other than TigardTualatin schools to consider. I wonder if everyone has considered what would happen to state test scores if the top students transfer out of the district to find a better fit? My husband asked our son, “So how is your Math class and how do you feel about all this hoopla about the math issues?” Our son basically shrugged his shoulders and said that it is an easy “A” and that there are really no challenging or new materials that he has encountered. When I look at his work, it makes me sad that his work looks like old work and nothing new and challenging. My daughter feels she isn’t learning much in algebra this year. She is not challenged and thinks math, once a favorite subject, is “boring”. She has always been a good math student and continues to get A’s in math. However, we believe that getting an A in this curriculum doesn’t mean you have a thorough understanding of algebra. She is begging me not to make her take two more years of CPM in high school. I am currently looking into our options for the next few years (tutors, home schooling for math, or community college) in case the school district doesn’t make changes to accommodate students who did well with more traditional instructional methods. Our concern is that if she continues to be bored with math, she will avoid higher level math courses and thus restrict her future career paths. My son and a friend who also is in this new math program commented that there was one ESL student in their group that was having problems understanding English during math class. They said the teacher often collected this ESL student’s test which was in many cases an “F” due to low English skills. So they all got an “F”. My son is in a “B” student in math but his friend was getting “A’s and was really upset about it … 2/22/2009
Our son is in Geometry this year. Even though he is an excellent student, the way the CPM textbook is set up is very confusing. My husband sat down with him to help and he was appalled. The lesson which explained the concept to be learned had NO problems in the homework that were even remotely connected to the topic at hand. Our son also says class time is a huge waste, because several kids just sit around and tell about doing drugs/getting stoned or there are just having random discussions. It ISN’T about math. The experiences that others have had with the CPM program is like reading our dinner table conversations at our house. We have a daughter at Tualatin High who has been struggling with her math. Were it not for the help of my wife, with a degree in math and me, an engineering student through the first two years of college, she might be failing to understand, if not failing altogether.
Math will never be universally exciting, whether among high school students or, for that matter, the masses in general. Yet, the success of this style of teaching math seems dependent upon the idea that all kids have within them the level of natural intellectual curiosity to reinvent the wheel, not once, but many times during the school year. At that age, it might happen for the individual, but it certainly won’t happen in a group think environment where the answers and methods aren’t readily available or apparent.
One of the real problems of this program is that success, with rare exceptions, will come only to those who have the benefit of extra tutoring at home by those parents who themselves have a reasonably good grasp of what the program is attempting to teach. My fatherinlaw, the head of a high school math program in Tacoma for many years, said that the two most important elements of a successful math program are, in the order of importance, (1) the math teacher and (2) books that can stand on their own in the absence of a teacher. The CPM program textbooks are not books that can stand alone in teaching the basics.
This program makes impure what has been considered throughout history the purest form of logic and science. I can imagine that the reason for the failure of a future Mars landing is that we used the “guess and check” method. This isn’t about kids who aren’t able or unwilling to do the work. It is much bigger than that. 2/20/2009
Our son is thoroughly “unchallenged” (aka “bored”) by the math this year. He pointed out to us last week that he is “learning” the same level math that they learned in 3rd grade!! And he was absolutely right. It’s as though this year is simply a recap of all that they have learned and there are no new concepts being presented. Also, the “guess and check” is ridiculous. Here is an example: The question requires 4 guesses as to how to solve the problem. Even if they get the answer correct on the first guess, they have to continue to do 3 more guesses with answers. Our son was a bit confused by this exercise of futility and asked “What is the point? If you got it right the first time and showed your work, am I supposed to guess at how to do it WRONG 3 more times??” We didn’t have an educated answer for that one. Needless to say, we are VERY frustrated with this curriculum. I had seen the paperback CPM textbook brought home and thought to myself, “That won’t last”. The text books are intended to be put into a math binder that every student should provide. Shortly after the end of the semester, my freshman son said that his geometry teacher stated the library has collected over $2000 for damaged books just from the last semester. His instructor had said it in the context of advising students to take care of their materials. The high school is diligent about recovering the cost of materials issued to the students that have been damaged. Not so in the middle school. A review at the middle schools shows that many math text books are “trashed”, again after only one semester of use. The curriculum is built around “exploration” and there is a large amount of consumable materials. This includes items like manipulative tiles, blocks, string, spaghetti, paper, glue, and apparently the textbook is a consumable resource as well. This is a resource intensive program. Limiting it and the costs associated with it, to those students that benefit most from the format, while allowing those that function well in a traditional algorithm/lecture based math format is economically prudent. The district is already beating the budget cut drum, and they have already implemented cost controls in the schools. A more cost effective curriculum option speaks to this beat. My son was criticized twice this week for working independently on his math during class time. Apparently it was group work time or watch the teacher write homework answers on the board time. Additionally, the class was instructed to skip several homework problems because they were deemed too complicated. The skipped problems were by no means difficult or confusing and represented the essence of what the lesson was intended to convey. This concept was already oversimplified and the book missed important tieins to other math concepts – and now the teacher downplayed even more the critical mathematical understanding. 2/19/2009
My son is currently enrolled in an Algebra class. He has always excelled in math and it has been his favorite subject until this year. He no longer enjoys the subject due to the new CPM curriculum. Early in the year a random student’s paper was chosen for the “group grade” and it turned out to be a “C.” My son hadn’t received a “C” prior to this and was disappointed. Others in his group were disappointed with the student whose paper was chosen. He mentions that the class is boring and doesn’t feel like he’s learning anything. I fear his negative experience will cause him to lose interest in math. My experience with CPM began before I realized that we had a new curriculum. My high school student came home several times telling us that his teacher sure figured out a way of doing nothing. He explained that the teacher would sit in front of the class while they worked in small groups. I was told that once in awhile the teacher would roam around and tell them to figure out the problems amongst themselves. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! I looked at the book when he would tell me that he didn’t understand what to do. I asked if the teacher explained it and he would say that the group had to do it and they didn’t know how to do it. There was no instruction from the teacher! When I tried to help I found that the book gives very little explanation, very few practice problems and skips from one thing to another. When correcting the homework I found that the problems are tedious to correct and that seeing bits and pieces of the steps toward the solution on numerous screens[via Hotmath] was confusing and ineffective. CPM is not working for my child who has always been a good math student, but now feels lost and disinterested. It’s all more a process of going through the motions rather than actually learning the math. Today my daughter came home from school frustrated about her team test. She told me that yesterday when they took the test she practically had to go through and do the test by herself as most of her group didn’t understand it. The result was the group copying her answers and her spending time teaching them how to do what she already knows. 2/17/2009
My son used to like math. He enjoyed going to class last year and did very well. This year he hated going because it was too difficult for him to switch to such a different way of learning. I personally have no tolerance for this program so we have pulled him out of CPM math and enrolled him in a more traditional math class. He has been getting A’s and understands the program and is no longer frustrated. While this may not be the best solution for everyone, it was the best to stop the bleeding of learning in our household. From my child: “The problems take forever. There is a lot of drawing. For example, currently we are drawing fractions. We studied fractions last year so this is all review. It is way too easy, just busy work. I am learning nothing new. There are also a lot of guess and check tables. We have to do 3 guesses. If you get it right the first time, you have to then give 2 wrong answers. It is really a waste of my time.”
My son used to really like math. He is a numbers guy and math has always been a strength. He plans to pursue business so a higher degree of math will be necessary in college. He is finding that this class is all review. The TAG aspect of my child’s brain is going by the way side. In middle school, while TAG has been fairly nonexistent, the teacher tried to teach and stimulate the higher kids. I would like to know what is in place currently in this new curriculum to advance the needs of these higher learners. We feel that currently he is being dumbed down instead of stimulated and advanced. My daughter was working on multiplying fractions this week. It took her less than five minutes to zip through the actual math part of 24 problems. But then she had to take time to draw boxes and shade them to demonstrate graphically how the multiplication of two fractions looks. Thirty minutes later she was frustrated with the amount of homework she’s required to do for a concept she already understands. And may I point out she’s understood this concept since the fifth grade. So far this year she has not worked on a single new concept in math. Last night she was justifiably upset that she had to spend time doing busy work instead of being able to practice her guitar or piano. 2/16/2009
As my son struggled with the “new” math program, we had numerous meetings in an ongoing struggle to get his grades up from F’s to the A’s and B’s he received prior to the “new” math. In one of our meetings with his teacher to discuss the most recent “handout” working with fractions, I brought to the teacher’s attention the fact that nowhere in the handout did it say anything about reducing to least common denominator. His teacher just rolled her eyes and said; “Well yeah, that is one of the things they left out.” I was speechless! I am no math whiz, BUT, this is just basic, basic, math skills that they can’t even get right. I was discussing “math issues” with a friend and telling her that I am seriously considering next year to start homeschooling my kids. I feel like the school wastes so much time and funds and effort in just “hot air” instead of focusing on the real issues – which are the education of our kids for the future of this country. I have a lot of thinking to do, but it may have to come to that. Short and simple, this program will not get students ready for the IB programs at the high school. As a high school student with a 6th grade sister in this program, it’s disheartening to see her struggle in this math program just because she doesn’t know what the question is asking! She may learn enough to do okay on the test, but she doesn’t know what she learned or how she can apply it elsewhere. I know this is the same with many of my friends’ siblings as well. 2/13/2009
Why should I have to use a guess and check table to write an equation if I can already write an equation without it? Also my teacher makes me have at least four guesses even if I get it on my first guess. This is a big waste of time. I have been criticized for working on my own by the teacher. During this time my group was goofing off and talking, so I decided to get a start on my homework. Why should I have to use algebra tiles to combine like terms? It takes forever to do it that way when I can either do it in my head or just write it out quick. CPM might be good for some but not for everyone. So will you please bring it back to two groups. That way the people who like CPM can have CPM and I can have traditional math. I would like this because this is how my brain works. I like to sit down and problem solve, not use algebra tiles and guess and check tables. My daughter was frustrated by her group. She is in a group with 3 boys. Today the three boys started throwing papers back and forth at one another. The teacher didn’t notice and my daughter ended up taking the papers away from the boys. The district claims that the teachers are “constantly checking in with the groups” and “always moving about the room”. If this is true, shouldn’t they notice that this group is out of control. It isn’t my daughter’s responsibility to maintain control in her group to get her work done. My 7th grader has one thing to say about math this year — “It’s boring”. He says he and his friends (approx. 7 in a class of 25) spend most of their class time each day visiting because they have already completed their assignment which they found very unchallenging, and there is no other work assigned. What a shame that such a large group of kids is finding math so boring. It scares me because I think we are missing an opportunity to foster a passion for math (and therefore critical thinking), and I hope it doesn’t end up with kids who decide math “isn’t for them”. We can’t afford to not challenge and offer something more to these kids who can work beyond the average expectation of a math program. 2/12/2009
My son is in Geometry and he is constantly frustrated by having to learn in a group and move at a slower pace than he is capable of moving. He feels that the math is too easy and most of it he has already learned in previous years. He states there is plenty of class work, but it is mainly review of past years. He came home about 3 weeks before the end of semester and he stated that he had learned his first new math concept of the year. He is an advanced student and he used to find math challenging, but now he hates math and doesn’t want to go to class anymore. This week the homework involved solving problems involving whole numbers and fractions with different denominators. My son asked me for help because he was apparently not taught how to solve these kinds of equations…or at least it didn’t make sense to him if he was. I taught him the way I learned it which was to convert all numbers into a fraction using the common denominator then put back into a whole and reduce to the lowest common denominator. This made sense to him but when I tried to find the solution in his math book I could not. The next day he tells me he had the right answer but most of the other kids didn’t and the teacher didn’t work through it with the class. My son is still left feeling confused about the “right” way to solve these kinds of equations. As a parent, I am continuously unimpressed with the random curriculum and lack of “teaching” the right way. It’s as if guessing at the right answer is good enough and that is definitely not the way to teach math to a child who wants to get into a good college. I am disappointed and concerned for my son’s future. My son is a very good student. When held personally accountable by the teacher he will perform at his highest ability. Given the option to piggy back with a group grade he will take the answer and go on to socialize within a group setting. I feel the biggest problem is the group distraction and lack of tutorial by the teacher. I want him to be held accountable for his own performance in math and do not think a group grade is reflective of what he contributes. His particular class/group has a high achieving math student who often shares the answer. They all copy and move on. He is not learning or accountable. I know he is a good student, but this format dumbs down the learning and relies on certain students to step up and others just coast. He tells me, “Yeah, I get the answer from someone in the group.” We all want to believe our kids will take the higher ground, but this method allows even good students to underperform. 2/10/2009
My daughter was grading homework in a group and one of the kids was not paying attention and gave some of the wrong answers. By the time they were done, my daughter had several wrong because of what the group said. The teacher came by and got mad at them because the corrections were not done right. My daughter actually got several answers correct that the group said were wrong. The students should not be relying on their group to make sure they are doing the math work correctly. It causes confusion when they think something is incorrect and then find out they were actually right. My daughter gets really bored with this new math (7th grade advanced math) due to its repetitive nature. It is not challenging enough for her to go beyond this level. She is constantly tutoring those who are struggling in her class and/or similar level of math. This constant boredom will set her back when she could’ve moved ahead at a faster pace. Student: “Shoot…”
Mom: “What’s up?”
Student: “This is annoying. I just answered the problem and then realized I was supposed to guess and check. Do I really have to guess & check? We’ve been doing this all year, and I know how to do it now. Do really I have to make up other guesses just so that I don’t miss any points?
Mom: “Can’t you just prove that your answer is correct?”
Student: “No, that’s not what they want.”
They don’t want the correct answer, they want the busy work!!! 3/31/2009 CPM geometry has been a nightmare for our family this year. My son has grown to hate math, a subject you once loved. Our family has been given the nightly job of working to try to get what we can from this program. We try to do our best to ensure that our son can pass the class and that he comes out knowing something about geometry. Class time is largely a waste of time. The group work takes little time and the class as a whole sits around for a great deal of time. The teacher will not do much to help the kids, typically telling them to work in their groups to find the answers to problems they don’t understand. They flounder and give up and just sit there. By the end of class they have wasted 90 minutes and know very little about their math. At night the kids and their families spend a lot of time doing the math that should have been explained in class. It is very frustrating as a parent to be required to do the job of the teacher. I cannot understand how the school district allows this math curriculum to go on. Anyone can see that the teachers are not teaching math here, instead they are facilitating group work. The school district needs to give us a math program in which the teachers actually teach. It is a waste of resources to have the teachers doing this. Our family is looking into our options for something else for next year. All of our options will cost us money, which we should not have to pay. Our school district needs to be educating our kids and in this case they are not. I recently expressed concern to my son about how much class time he has missed between doing “teasers” for the school play and for a music concert he recently took part in at an elementary school. His comment was that we didn’t have to worry about Algebra because “we don’t do anything anyway” and “it’s easy”. I was so discouraged by this. I was holding out hope though that when they got their new textbooks there would be some new material. Nope. From what we can see, it’s more review. This entire school year has been a complete waste of time for math. I really feel like we are taking steps backward instead of forward. He is usually pretty selfmotivated and has always loved math. Unfortunately he’s gone from being frustrated and upset about the lack of content and challenge in this curriculum to what I see now – complacency. It’s one less class he has to work in. I’ll be shocked and disgusted if the school district I’ve been proud to have my kids in chooses to waste more of our time and resources by keeping this curriculum. My middle school daughter has always excelled at math and continues to do so in CPM. What’s my problem with the math curriculum this year? In the past, she has had to work, study, and do some homework in order to earn that excellent grade. I am very concerned that this year she almost never comes home with any homework to do and still gets an “A” with no effort. To me, this indicates that she is not being challenged to rise to her potential, or to learn valuable study skills that will serve her in the future. She doesn’t study for tests, yet still gets an “A”. This indicates to me that she is not learning enough new concepts to challenge her, and her year in class has largely been a waste of valuable time. Before this year, I have never had any doubt that my child was learning in her classes at school. With what we’ve experienced in CPM this year, I am disheartened and frustrated with the lack of rigor, accountability, motivation, and skillbuilding that math class offers the students. CPM is most definitely not serving our child’s learning needs. We will be pulling her out of math next year and either homeschooling or utilizing another program if the District decides to continue with this curriculum. As a parent, this is the only responsible decision I can make in light of the experience we’ve had this year. I resent having to resort to this option, or having to move to another district to ensure she receives a quality math education. Our children only get one chance to get a solid education that will give them the tools to successfully navigate adulthood. I would like to urge the Tigard School Board to face this curriculum problem head on, and move forward in a purposeful transparent way, to adopt different curriculum that serves the students we have entrusted to them. We have one student in middle school and one in high school. Both report that they have only minimal inclass time during one single class to review the results of their graded tests and quizzes before returning them to the teacher. And their graded homework? Well, it isn’t graded – merely scorenoted for being turned in with no teacher grading to provide feedback that they are on track or not – and artificially inflating and misleading the true command of the subject (think of the “That Was Easy” red button). Back to quizzes and tests. The graded results are not returned to the student to retain and take home. They are not allowed to leave the classroom, not allowed to be reviewed by parent and student at home when it is convenient to determine progress and improvement opportunities. But, appointments can be made to come in after normal class hours to review the results in the teacher’s presence. Again, a parent can’t even sign a responsibility release so the student can take the results home and study and analyze them. The MS teacher said it was the ‘policy’ dictated to them this year within CPM. The HS teacher replied that it is to control cheating by preventing the test from ‘getting out’ in public. Is this an improvement? Not in my estimation. It is also inconsistent with both students’ other classes. They are allowed to retain their returned quiz and tests in other classes – to use them for study and analysis if desired. Is the unmotivated student going to take the extra initiative to make an appointment with the teacher and come in before or after school to review test or quiz results in the teacher’s presence? Realistically, it is not likely. Does this support the student who is interested in mastering the subject, in selfimprovement, in shining via learning from mistakes and knowledge gaps? Not in my opinion. Both students have confirmed this is the process for graded tests and quizzes. Board Members: check with your own student(s) and see what their CPM dictated process is for graded quizzes and tests being returned for students to retain for additional analysis and reference at the student/parent’s convenience and motivation. After all the postings of other parents with regard to the CPM curriculum in TTSD, I find it interesting to see so many of my daughter’s complaints reflected in other parents’ and students’ recounts of their experiences with the CPM program. When we moved from WA State, I thought we had finally left the dreaded “reform” or “integrated” math behind. Last year, math was finally clicking for our daughter and she was excited about moving forward in her math studies. Then BAM! She is stuck with this stupid program that gives little to no assistance in the form of solid examples and leaves too much “teaching” to student groups. Talk about the blind leading the blind! In addition, there appears to be little to no direction with regard to what concepts they are supposed to be learning, too much repetition of elementary school concepts that should not require review and no indication of how these exercises are intended to form a solid understanding of the basics of algebra. I was told by the math department head that the kids are advised to use the Hotmath.com extensively in trying to solve problems when they do not have access to a teacher. What about the poor student who might not have access to this site? What about the student or parent that don’t understand how to get the most from that site? What about the student that just copies the answers from the site with still no understanding of the problem? As a math major myself, I am perfectly capable of tutoring my daughter at home. However, for her, it feels like endless school – math class at school with a bunch of goofoffs in her study group and continued tutoring at home. We have already decided that our daughter will NOT be participating in TTSD’s math program next year if CPM is the only option. As a result of this issue, in combination to the narrowminded, shortsighted actions of TTSD in another area of study for our other child, we are seriously considering homeschooling both children. At the very least, our daughter will seek her math education via the community college or correspondence course. The fact that TTSD seems unconcerned about the use of reform math only confirms my impression that TTSD is a substandard school district. I wish we had only known this before moving into the area. Like many others, our family searched for a private school or a district that would offer excellence in education for our children. Based on strong recommendations from TTSD families, much research and visits to the schools, we were convinced to give the district a chance. During the elementary school years, we have been thrilled that our children have thrived in an environment that has both nurtured and challenged them to their fullest potential. In the past five years, we have become outspoken advocates for TTSD and the public school system. In fact, our family has postponed and reevaluated relocation in an effort to stay within district boundaries. Like many families, ours has been an active and integral part of the PSO, volunteering both time and financial support for our school in an unequivocal effort to uphold our school’s tradition of excellence. At a time when we should take comfort in embracing a smooth and strong transition into the upcoming middle school years, we find ourselves unexpectedly confused, reluctant, and outright disappointed in not just an inadequate math program, but a highly flawed process of curriculum selection by the district. At this pivotal time, will the district take a stance for the education of the children they have committed to serve? Will they commit to provide excellence of education that meets the needs of all children, and prepares them for the competitive and global world to come? Or, after putting our trust in the Tigard Tualatin School District, is our family, like many others, at the same crossroads once again, searching for a private school or a district that will offer excellence in education for our children? I am in an ongoing email dialog with my son’s math teacher and she is well aware of my feelings on the shortcomings of the CPM curriculum. I attended the parentteacher conference at high school recently. Because of our email correspondence, I did not “need” to speak with my son’s math teacher. However, since she does not know me by face, I decided to ask her opinion of CPM. She gave me many “knowing” nods and grins (as well as some eyerolls) as she carefully explained to me why the district chose this curriculum. She was speaking to me as if it was scripted. She later admitted, after I pushed with many questions, that she did not believe CPM was serving our students well. She thinks having kids teach themselves math in random groupings of varying skills and motivation levels is not effective. Gee, really? If our teachers can’t honestly support CPM, how can the district rationalize keeping it? We have an 8th grader. He is in Math (not Algebra). He has consistently been at a 95% or above in cumulative grade as well as receiving an A for each quarter in Math all year. He was predominantly an A all last year as well except for one quarter. He dislikes the CPM program. He says that what partner they end up with determines how challenging, or ‘how dumb’ (his words) he has to be. He consistently gets 95% or better on the individual tests, quizzes and assignments. He dislikes the team concept. The class teamtime process is hard to socially or logistically accept when he is partnered with a poor communicator, or with a person who is not interested in excelling. He says he is hating the thought of having to do it all over again in high school next year. Of particular concern to him, and which troubles us as parents considerably, is he is finding he is excelling on all parts of the class this year; but, his State and ACT testing scores have resulted in just barely midaverage scoring. This is more feedback that this program is apparently a dummieddown approach to carry the poor performers. Otherwise, Excellent students ARE being Left Behind. I am extremely concerned about the experiences I have heard from parents and students regarding TTSD middle school CPM math. I have a 5th grade student that will be entering middle school next year. She is academically gifted in math and I want to see her working at her own level and ability…CPM is not the right approach. We will be pulling our child out of TTSD math and finding a more “traditional” accredited math program for next year. Our daughter is a freshman in Algebra I. Her teacher started the year with students in 2 person CPM teams. At the parent’s meeting we were told that all teachers were using essentially the same CPM classroom methods but this was not the case as other classes were using primarily 4 person teams, and one other was using 3 person teams. At the start of the year she had a bad (disinterested, Gothish) sophomore as a teammate. Initially a large percentage of teamearned grades were being registered and at one point she had a D average – and was disheartened (She had perfect straight A’s every grading period and cumulatively since 4th grade). For one quiz, a class challenged the teacher because 2 questions on the quiz had never been covered in class. Nonetheless, the awarded scores were left asis. On two separate occasions a different student challenged the teacher on the answer correctness and problem solving method that was being advocated. These students were asked to vacate the room for a portion of the class. One was reduced to tears, did not return and was given an unexcused tardy. What? Net – our daughter recovered to an A before the end of the semester. She HATES the method, and she started her HS career disliking high school in general. What a loss for the district. She finds the method unstimulating and unrewarding and few new things being learned. Where does the next generation of engineers, scientists and mathbased whizzes come from? Not TTSD schools. And this is No Child Left Behind? My daughter is a freshman and has always received straight A’s in math. This year is no different she is still pulling a high A. However, she is not being challenged at all. She in on track for IB Chemistry next year and hasn’t even taken geometry which is a prerequisite. Fortunately the science teacher signed her off for the course next year knowing her grades and character. Upon entering high school she was tested in math and we were told by the teachers she had one of the highest scores ever received by them. When I asked if she should be moved to a higher class, they assured me this is right where she needed to be. (Now I know why…they wanted/needed her to help teach this large class.) I was reluctant to have her stay and not moved up and only agreed to this since she was already taking three advanced classes and didn’t want to overwhelm her the first year of high school. She has been doing the same things over and over and helping the teachers with a senior girl in her table group who is just trying to get through this class so she can receive her last math credit to graduate. My daughter has had it and last night after doing pages and pages of problems over and over broke her pencil in half, hurled it across and said, “How many times do I have to do the same things over and over”? My son is a 6th grader, in TAG reading and borderline TAG math. He has always received A’s in math, loves the subject and it usually comes easy to him….until this year. He received a C last quarter and has another strong C this time around. He is in an advanced math group and comes home every night frustrated, saying he hates math and believes he is stupid now when it comes to math! The teacher says he is too talkative in the group and very social and that is the reason. I wonder who is in charge here the kids chatting about other subjects in their group or the TEACHER! He was in a group last time with kids way under him and very distractive. This time he is in a group of kids he claims are smarter than he is, they get it right off the bat and then all they do is chat. He doesn’t want to look dumb so he plays along. He has been offered extra help after school in a tutoring program. I think this is a nice gesture, however why should HE spend more time on his own doing what should be taken care of in class since it seems with all the chit chat there is plenty of time. If your child is on a different level, academically, socially, etc. a group situation is a very detrimental learning environment. My son wants to take advanced classes in high school like his sister and become an engineer…hhhmmm…last time I checked you need strong math skills for that career!!! If this can’t be worked through quickly we will be checking into alternatives. What a shame we have to spend our extra precious family time and money to get the education for our children we should be receiving in the classroom. Everything was right on track with my kids schooling and I have been very pleased until now! Funny thing is he has wonderful comments from the rest of his teachers and has received A’s all year long in every other subject…hhhmmm
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