Various learning programs, such as “Everyday”, “Investigation” and “Bridges” are awful. Try this: In a fifth-grade class, a group of students needed to calculate the area of a rectangle. It was a field requiring that so much land be available for each animal placed in the fenced area. (File photo)

In response to Beverly Biello’s recent commentary in the Eagle, I must say that the NAEP is a terrible indicator of the state of our public schools. It picks selected schools each time and then, it’s done every four years with only two grades.

I agree with Ms. Biello. We are not getting our money’s worth; our students are doing poorly—just check the state statistics on the NECAP and you’ll that “with proficiency” is really a word of dishonor.

Do you believe a person that fails almost 60 percent of an assessment to be proficient or a person that fails 25 percent of an assessment to be proficient with distinction?

If this concept was transferred to the college level it would mean that summa cum laude would be a worthless academic achievement.

Where in the known world would anyone who does a task, or their job, 75 percent of the time should be called proficient with distinction or even employed?

Math education in Vermont just plain stinks.

Data is good but visits to the classrooms is even better.

You will be shocked at what many administrators and teachers are doing and how they are doing it.

Various learning programs, such as “Everyday”, “Investigation” and “Bridges” are awful. Try this: In a fifth-grade class, a group of students needed to calculate the area of a rectangle. It was a field requiring that so much land be available for each animal placed in the fenced area.

When asked what the area of the field would be if the length of the fence was 43 feet and the width was 37 feet, the best answer was tally marks. Out of 17 children questioned, 14 agreed that this would be the best method.

I watched as children made 43 groups of 37 tally marks in a fashion that has me believing that they are still counting. Ten frames, number lines for first and second graders that have never actually used place value or an actual quantity.

If fingers fell off the hands of these children, almost all of their math calculating would come to a halt.

If you actually had ten piles of $7 would you have any idea how much money you would have? Sure, all you do is add a zero. So, how much money is that? $70 right?

If you were asked to determine how many sevens were in 84 would the information that 10 sevens is 70 help in any way? No. I would first divide the seven into the eight and put a one on the top, then I would multiply one times seven and subtract tit from eight and then bring down I would now have fourteen so I can make two sevens out of 14, so the answer would be 12.

I am confused. I did what I was taught but this does not make sense. I need to divide 27 by three. First, I determine that I cannot find any threes in two, so I wrote a zero I then multiplied it by three—getting another zero—and I then subtracted it from two and I brought down the seven. I now have the name number I started with—how come?

Here’s a group of 10 sixth graders I encountered—

”Hey, Jim, we have added these 12 numbers up and we get a result of 1,012 but we need to find the average. How do we do it?”

“Haven’t you done any division when you were in the elementary school,” I asked.

“We need to know how divide? Wow, how does that work?” the children question.

“You will need to determine how many 12s are in 1,012,” I replied.

All of a sudden a young girl said—”I know it, I know it—it’s 1!

“One,” I said. “Yes, see it, it’s right there. Sure enough—in 1,012 there is a 12.”

No, we are not getting our money’s worth. Worst of all, our children are being cheated so much so that their being able to find a job which involves mathematics is almost nil.

*Jim Callahan*

*Middlebury*

Note: Jim Callahan is a math education consultant and former principal of Mary Hogan Elementary School in Middlebury.