Do you ever wonder how the math text you are using measures up to other publications on the market? Well, there is research available for some of these math series. Granted publications change as new adoptions come up, yet it is interesting to see who of the publishers are in the lead.

A study was conducted over a 3 year period involving 1,309 1st graders in 39 elementary schools, the four-state study is considered the largest experiment to test some of the nation’s most widely used commercial math programs. It was commissioned by the Institute of Education Sciences, the primary research arm for the U.S. Department of Education.

To determine how much math the students learned, the researchers used a nationally normed exam that was developed for the federal Early Childhood Longitudinal Study.

The results of the study were published in 2009. Two programs for teaching mathematics in the early grades—Math Expressions and Saxon Math—emerge as winners. At the end of 1st grade, investigators found, children in classes using the Saxon and Math Expressions curricula scored 9 percentile points to 12 percentile points higher on those tests than their counterparts in other classrooms. That is quite a significant gap above the other contenders.

So how were the top two different than those that were lagging behind?

The Saxon curriculum, published by Harcourt, is a more traditional, scripted program in which teachers offer explicit instruction on effective mathematics procedures. The Houghton Mifflin Co.’s Math Expressions curriculum, in comparison, integrates a more emphasis on student reasoning with direct teaching that is aimed at moving students to more-advanced mathematical strategies. The Investigations program was considered the most student-centered of the four curricula, while Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley Mathematics is a basic-skills curriculum that combines teacher-led instruction with a variety of different materials and teaching strategies.

So what can we learn from this? Direct Instruction (Teaching) is still a very important tool in teaching mathematics. Hands-on can certainly enhance students’ understanding of the concepts, but it is time to end the debate whether hands-on is better than direct instruction or visa versa. We should use both. Second, when it is time to adopt a new series, how about suggesting that the committee look at the research before making the final decision.

If you would like to see in-depth direct instruction math powerpoint presentations that highly involve the students, click on the Products menu tab at the top of this article.

To see a more in-depth article about this study click on the picture above.

Source: Viadero, Debra, “Study Gives Edge to 2 Math Programs” __Educational Weekly__, Vol. 28, Issue 23, Pages 1, 13, __Published in Print: March 4, 2009__