Posted on **12/04/2002 9:41:55 AM PST** by **Lizavetta**

Goshen – A new math curriculum plus confused students equals angry parents. At least when that new math curriculum is the Interactive Mathematics Program.

Under IMP, high school students learn from books that have more word problems than equations. Instead of traditional math instruction, IMP emphasizes students working in groups to solve a problem over the course of a few weeks.

Goshen has been using IMP for the past three years in its freshman, sophomore and junior classes. The district plans to add it to its 12th-grade curriculum next year.

But some parents want it gone.

"The whole program is a travesty," said parent Traude Ellert, who has made it her personal mission to convince the district to ax IMP. "It's like a cancer. We are using language arts books to teach math. I'm outraged as a taxpayer. Part of my money was used here."

IMP replaces the algebra, geometry, trigonometry and pre-calculus found in traditional math, where students are taught in a more structured setting and a teacher drills formulas. Students of IMP are taught in groups and spend weeks on one central problem or theme.

An IMP textbook states that it "does not teach directly." There is no index in the book for math concepts. Called "fuzzy math," IMP has received mixed reviews. In 1999, the U.S. Department of Education named it one of the nation's top five exemplary math programs in the country. But some Web sites call it a scam that frustrates parents and turns A and B students into C and D students.

Math is an exact science and IMP makes it cloudy, Ellert said.

"Don't mess with math," she said. "They messed with math and that's not OK."

Ellert, who teaches pre-GED courses at a state prison, began her own math group. Every Tuesday night for 90 minutes, she teaches math to a group of 16 freshmen, including her daughter, from a Math A Barron's Review Book.

The students meet in the art room of the high school, where Ellert gives homework assignments and rewards them with saltine crackers for correct answers. She doesn't get paid to teach and the students go on their own time, many sacrificing extra-curricular activities.

But they don't mind. It's better than learning what they call "CHIMP" math. "We call it CHIMP because it's so easy monkeys could do it," said freshman Katey Bischof, 14, an honors student. "We learned more in three weeks here (with Ellert) than we learned in three months in IMP class," said freshman Hillary Quinn, 14.

The students complain that there are no lessons, just stories; parents can't help them if they have questions because the book does not explain the math problems and the Math A Regents exam has nothing to do with IMP.

Goshen isn't the only school district with IMP. Newburgh also has the program but it is under review, said spokeswoman Rebecca Foster. By the end of next year, the Goshen School District will have spent about $65,000 funding IMP, said Superintendent James Langlois. The district added the program to adapt to changing Regents requirements.

By the time current freshmen graduate, they will have to pass English, U.S. history and global studies, math and science.

"We can no longer allow kids to slide by with the same understanding of math as they did in the past," Langlois said. "Everyone has to pass the Math A (Regents) exam." And that concerns parents.

"We're giving the tutors in the area a lot of business," said a mother, whose son is part of Ellert's group. "As soon as I saw the book, I saw a problem. I said, 'This is not math.' We need a blending of the old math and new math. I don't think anyone is against new and innovative ideas. But you need a basis."

But for Ellert, it's become a personal goal to get rid of the program. "I'm not stopping until this is gone," she said. "It's a travesty to the Goshen School District."

**IMP word problem**

IMP was created in 1989 by San Francisco State University professors Dan Fendel and Diane Resek. The program uses an integrated problem-based approach to teach algebra, geometry, trigonometry, probability and statistics. It is used in more than 350 schools across the country.

For more information, visit the IMP Web site at www.mathimp.org or contact Dan Fendel at 415-338-1805 or Diane Resek at 415-338-2071.

This is an example of an IMP word problem:

"Pick any answer"

Lai Yee has a new trick. He tells someone:

--Pick any number.

--Multiply by 2.

--Now add 8.

--Divide by 2.

--Subtract the number you started with.

--Your answer is 4.

1. Try out Lai Yee's trick. Is the answer always 4? If you think it always is, explain why. If not, explain why it sometimes will be something else.

2. Make up a trick whose answer will always be 5.

3. Pretend that someone gives you a number that he or she wants to be the answer. Using the variable A to stand for that number, make up a trick whose answer will always be A.

Source: Interactive Mathematics Program text book

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And the schools churn out yet another generation of math illiterates who need cash registers with words on the keys because it's too difficult to add up items with numbers.

Thank God for homeschooling and SAXON math.

To: **Lizavetta**

This sounds like an example of putting the cart before the horse. Learning progresses in very distinct and recognizable stages; Knowledge, comprehension, analysis, application, synthesis and evaluation. This program seems to be asking the kids to synthesize and evaluate problems without the knowledge or comprehension. There are no short-cuts to math. You must put in the time and effort. This program IMO is a waste of time and potential

To: **Lizavetta**

Funny how " traditional " math worked so well for Einstein, Thorne, Hawking, and Newton among others. I wonder if Edison would invented anything using IMP.

But then again, dumb worker bees make for a better hive.

But then again, dumb worker bees make for a better hive.

To: **Lizavetta**

My daughter's math teacher has "rules" for solving math problems. The most important rule: show your work in a vertical manner on the page. If this form is not followed the question will be marked WRONG! Correct answers that are not in the proscribed format will be marked wrong! When I saw this at a parent meets teacher evening, I just bit my lip!!!

But then again, the NEA follows the liberal guidelines of form over substance. Why are we experiencing a math and science curriculum crisis?

I pointed out to my daughter that this is the same problem that doomed the prior NASA Mars probe. Oh the FORMulae were correct! It was the insertion of English rather than metric variables that caused the loss. Ergo the FORMulae worked but the Answer did not. $40 Million down the ole crapper!

To: **Lizavetta**

For all the bashing in the article, that sample question was actually pretty good. It measures your ability to glean information out of a paragraph and then apply your math skills on it.

How many times in real life do you get a question like "x + 4 = 10" and you have to give the answer?

Course this could be taken to the extreme and you never get a word problem that's more complicated than the above question.

How many times in real life do you get a question like "x + 4 = 10" and you have to give the answer?

Course this could be taken to the extreme and you never get a word problem that's more complicated than the above question.

To: **conservativemusician**

"I wonder if Edison could of invented anything with IMP"

Not to be argumentative as I see your point, but let's see what Edison invented using math skills taught in school. He had a creative mind that tried a lot of solutions to problems. That really can't be taught in a math class that's limited to teaching "real math."

Not to be argumentative as I see your point, but let's see what Edison invented using math skills taught in school. He had a creative mind that tried a lot of solutions to problems. That really can't be taught in a math class that's limited to teaching "real math."

To: **Lizavetta**

Saxon math is okay for very basic students. Its *Number 1* problem is *no Problem Solving*. Good students are turned off of math because it is so boring. *You learn math by doing math*, not just by repetition. I am sick of seeing students counting on their fingers (even in junior high). They have got to learn MATH.

To: **Lizavetta**

Does anybody know about the mathematical/scientific background, or lack thereof, of "San Francisco State University professors Dan Fendel and Diane Resek"?

To: **Lizavetta**

IMP emphasizes students working in groups to solve a problem over the course of a few weeks.

-----------------------------------

Social/socialist math. In a few years they can meet as a group when they try to calculate change for a dollar at McDonalds.

To: **mathluv**

Hey, I was homeschooled, and my ma threw Saxon books at my head, and I taught myself advanced algebra and calculus as a highschooler. I was a darn good student if I do say so myself, and not turned off to it in the least. Heckuvalot more interesting than history or lit...

The above is anecdotal and I was the exception rather than the rule because I was a frickin' geek, but I disagree with your assessment in general. High school math is not supposed to be FUN. It is supposed to be functional, and if that means grueling and repetitive to get the message across, then so be it. Good students will hack through it and do what they must to get to more interesting stuff.

To: **AUgrad**

Bingo! But sadly, too many math classes snuggle up against the opposite extreme leaving students poorly equipped to deal with the word problems they see in chemistry and physics. Mindless 'plug-n-chug' repetition is just as useless.

To: **Lizavetta**

Learning how to work number problems is a product of repetition, nothing more. I finally figured that out in my grad level biostats classes. The more problems/equations I worked, the more instinctive my knowledge became. Students need to work the equations and calculations over and over and over. That's how math is learned, starting with basic math facts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. If a kids gets to middle school and still has to count them on his fingers, math will be a miserable subject for him.

To: **lelio**

Actually I deal with this all the time. Consider the following:

You and three buds go to the bar. By two o'clock in the morning, as you are getting kicked out, the tab is shown to be $113.78. Bud #1 drank four beers and a shot of jag. Bud #2 drank five shots of jag. Bud #3 drank 9 beers and mooched jag off somebody else. You drank 5 beers and three shots of tequila. If jag is $5/shot and tequila is $4/shot, what does everybody owe?

And then you set up your equation, assuming you can see straight--

4b + 1($5) + 5($5) + 9b + 5b + 3($4) = 113.78, where b = price of one beer. Solve for b, and tote up the rest. (Actually I am getting b ~ $4, which probably means that the bartender figured y'all were too wasted to notice and stiffed ya for an extra $20 or so, so that is something else that you will have to deal with...)

And don't forget tip...

To: **Lizavetta**

/p> I've always wondered why people complain about cash registers. Do you really expect people to add up numbers in their head all day and memorize the price of every single item? Any way, I wouldn't be bothered by this if they simply asking seniors to apply what they have learned. One of the things that stands out in mind from the statistics classes I took in college was how much trouble people had with word problems. If you can't read a paragraph and draw on the body of knowledge you've acquired then that learning is largely wasted.

To: **Lizavetta**

Amen, friend. The founder of Saxon Publishing was confrontational with the 'mainstream' educational establishment. He would challenge any school system to compare results with his methods versus any other -- free of charge. With his death, the children now run the company, and they're now just trying to 'get along' with the Socialist math claque -- unfortunate.

To: **maxwell**

No where did I say math should be FUN. It must be functional. Kids must learn math. That does not mean there can not be some fun, but I repeat, math is learned by doing math. For most kids, Saxon is not the answer. It can help some kids. The High school books are better than the elementary ones. The elementary ones were the main ones I was talking about.

To: **Young Werther**

When attempting to learn math the ability to organize information is VERY important. Higher order problems often involve many different calculations. The teacher may simply be trying to teach his students to organize their problem in an effective manner. If they aren't organized, their chances of success are greatly reduced.

To: **quark**

I'm not familiar with Saxon. What makes his methods unique?

To: **quark**

I am not part of the socialist math clique. I do not belong to NEA and never will. John Saxon's methods will work for some students, but not for most. He was good at selling his product to administrators and school boards, and would not make any changes to go with state curriculum. In Texas, like it or not, that means the TABS, TEAMS, TAAS, and now TAKS test. He would never add problem solving to his books. Word problems in a lesson about addition will be about addition. Word problems are NOT PROBLEM SOLVING. Problem solving is what you do when you do not know what to do.

To: **mathluv**

Tell that to the homeschool population where Saxon is the main math text. We are currently using Saxon 54 (4th/5th grade) and Saxon 76 (6th/7th grade) with impressive results. If my kids were Einsteins, Saxon wouldn't work. But my kids are normal to bright, and the repetition/incremental approach is providing them with a solid grounding. It's a damn sight more than I got in my government school education.

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