To the Editor:
Your article about our children’s poor math performance (“Poor Math Scores on World Stage Trouble U.S.,” Jan. 5, 2005) quotes the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ Cathy L. Seeley as saying that the problem is a lack of real-world problem-solving in our schools. We work extensively with inner-city kids here in Minneapolis. We have studied the problem of poor math performance extensively. In Minneapolis, only 28 percent of African-Americans in the public schools can pass the 8th grade math test.
The problem? Something called “integrated math.” You can learn all about it from the NCTM. Real-world problem-solving, calculators, no memorization, and so on. Integrated math has invaded and infected the curriculum everywhere, courtesy of the NCTM. The result? No proficiency in the basic skills children need to do higher-order math. The idea seems to be that you put children together in a room with a calculator and “real-life problems” and have at it. Forget facility with algorithms, fractions, decimals.
I have truly met the enemy here in Minneapolis, and it is the NCTM and integrated math.
Gregory J. Pulles
A version of this article appeared in the February 09, 2005 edition of Education Week as Blame ‘Integrated Math’ For Our Poor Test Scores