To Ms. Eva Moskowitz and
New York City Council Committee on Education
From Mary van Valkenburg
by email, November 2, 2003
Re Hearing on Math Reform, November 5, 2003
I wish to submit some brief comments regarding my daughter's experience with the District 2 math curriculum in the 1995-2003 period, K thru 8.
My daughter started out at PS 116 in a gifted program that followed the TERC curriculum. Parents were asked from the outset to read articles supporting this rather odd way of teaching math, to trust that in a few years our children would be adept at all basic arithmetical functions, and not to interfere with the process by teaching them traditional algorithms. Despite misgivings, I went along fully with what the educators asked.
Over the years my daughter enjoyed math, learned to think strategically, and became good at estimating. She got a high score on the NY State Standard Test and I thought everything was fine.
Then it came time to apply to middle school and I learned that her math skills were far behind what the better middle schools required. I learned, then, that most of the students who were accepted to the best schools had been privately tutored in math. I started speaking with many parents and teachers at that point, and finally realized that I had done my very bright child a disservice by trusting the district 2 curriculum.
Soon after that, I enrolled my daughter in a Japanese after-school math program called Kumon, where she had the opportunity to learn and practice basic math skills. Within a few months, her confidence and abilities soared. By mid-year, when she took her NYS Standardized test, she got a perfect score; and when she took an SAT as a 7th grader she scored higher than 77% of high school seniors. In short, my daughter is extremely talented in math, but no one knew that until she studied at Kumon.
The district 2 curriculum was not a total disaster for my daughter, but it was woefully inadequate.
Mary van Valkenburg
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