“Investigations” Curriculum: No Verdict Yet, WWC Says

By Sean Cavanagh — February 24, 2009 1 min read
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One of the elementary math curricular programs that tends to raise the ire of parents locked in the so-called “math wars” is Investigations in Number, Data and Space. Well, a federal review of that program is in, and the grade is (drumroll) incomplete.

The What Works Clearinghouse, a federal center for reviewing the quality of curricula and interventions on strict criteria, identified 40 different studies of Investigations. Unfortunately for those seeking a clarity on the merits of the curricula, none of the studies fell within the “review protocol meet What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) evidence standards,” the office found.

“The lack of studies meeting WWC evidence standards means that, at this time, the WWC is unable to draw any conclusions based on research about the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of Investigations in Number, Data, and Space,” the clearinghouse says in a new report.

Investigations is a K-5 curriculum published by Pearson Scott Foresman. It’s raised hackles in a number of districts around the country, recently including Prince William County, Va., in the suburbs south of Washington. In general, critics say it does not pay enough attention to traditional problem-solving methods. The program’s backers say it cultivates broader mathematical skills in young students, which serves them well in later math.

Keep in mind that the What Works Clearinghouse holds review standards that are often difficult to meet. One of its nicknames is the “Nothing Works Clearinghouse.” Even so, a few curricula and interventions have made the cut, including the popular early-grades math program, Everyday Math.

Of course, that hasn’t spared Everyday Math from attacks, either.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.