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Professional Development

Singapore Math Tough to Adopt

By Liana Loewus — June 09, 2011 1 min read

Bill Turque at The Washington Post writes about one D.C. public school’s decision to adopt the Singapore Math program—and the many challenges that have come with it.

Singapore Math, Turque explains, focuses on mastery of basic computation skills and essential ideas, such as place value. “And unlike ‘Everyday Mathematics,’ which ‘spirals’ through subjects—covering them and then returning later—Singapore goes slow and deep, requiring mastery before moving on,” he writes.

But in a district with a highly transient student population, Turque writes, it’s tough to use a program that relies heavily on skill-building from year to year. And Singapore Math requires extensive (and costly) professional development, and “a depth of understanding most U.S. elementary teachers don’t acquire in their math training,” according to Turque.

Plus, teacher turnover is quite high in D.C.—one study found that 76 percent of teacher leave in five years or less. So those teachers who do learn the program often don’t stick around.

Are these the same kinds of problems that come up in implementing other programs? Are they the types of challenges that dissuade districts from trying innovative strategies or altering the curriculum?

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.