Singapore Math – The Answer to Low Testing Scores in U.S. Schools?
The idea of Singapore Math may be new, or even unheard of, in many public school systems across the country, but it is a program that has been embraced and accepted by America’s homeschooling community for years. Its popularity has grown in the United States as student achievement in mathematics has continued to be outranked by other countries, while the mathematics achievement scores of Singapore’s student population have remained high. Does adopting another country’s system of mathematics work for our students? Many educators believe it does, while others see it as a passing fad.
The New York Times ran an article about how Singapore Math is being used in public, charter and private schools across the country. The challenge with adopting the system seems to stem partly from the expense of training teachers how to use it. Unlike other math programs that schools adopt in an effort to raise their yearly progress scores, Singapore math’s foundation is rooted in the idea of concept mastery before progressing. While it may seem that teachers can easily adapt to the new system, there is, as with any new curriculum, a learning curve.
The Times indicates that teachers like the system, because it allows them to reach students with different learning needs. That is something that many homeschooling parents have known. Often teaching multiple grades simultaneously, homeschooling parents tout the program’s effectiveness at reaching students who learn differently. Singapore Math’s slow progression through basic concepts and number exploration seems to have a profound impact on student confidence levels. Whether test scores go up or not, Singapore Math seems to give students the confidence to continue learning.
So what are Singapore Math books? Initially, they were imported copies of the exact books being used in Singapore’s schools. While a version of those books are still available, there are also modified materials made for US schools. The US editions have supplemental materials that are based mainly on popular math tracks in this country. Educational supply companies have also begun to provide teachers and schools with additional resources and materials that are specifically designed to enhance the Singapore Math curriculum.
What has your experience, if any, been with Singapore Math? Is it a program that your school has adopted? Was it adopted and is now abandoned? What are your feelings about using another country’s math program in U.S. schools?
Leave a comment and share your thoughts with us.