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Singapore Math: The math that makes the difference / By: Caren Urling

Posted Nov 17 2008 5:51pm
With less than 40 percent of fourth graders testing at or above the math proficiency, something must be changed.  There is no justification for such low math scores among our children.   Teachers and administrators need to look into how we can improve our children’s confidence, skills, and mathematical competence.  As parents, we have the duty to pressure our schools into making changes that will improve the quality of education for our children.

Undoubtedly, Singapore continues to outshine many in mathematical education, including the United States. In a 2003 TIMSS study of fourth graders, Singapore outscored the U.S. by 76 points, while coming in first among the industrialized nations participating.  Disappointingly, the American students scored 11 points below the average in Math.  Noting these scores, we can’t help but ask the question of why.

As a parent and educator, I am convinced that there are a number of factors involved in these low test scores.  Critics scrutinize these scores and begin  pointing fingers at the teachers, parents, school system, etc.  We, as a society, are always looking for someone to blame.  BUT, what if it is not somebody, yet something that is to blame for these failures?  Could it possibly be that we just do not have the right curriculum set in place?

Singapore uses a math program that could be easily implemented in the American schools.  Forget about our old way of doing things and take an example from someone who has been doing it right for years, Singapore.  Singapore’s math program doesn’t just teach a child how to do something; it also helps them apply what they have learned.  It uses building blocks, instead of constant repetition, and it gives strategies on how to approach math problems while using a more simplified method of problem solving.

It’s time for Tampa to realize that something needs to change.  The outdated way of doing mathematics will only cause further decline in test scores and hinder our children’s potential.  Look, ask, and pursue a modification in the present curriculum.  Do it for our kids, and do it for the future of Tampa.


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