Wayzata responds to math questions

One of the Wayzata school district's finest, thirty-year math teacher Judy Stucki, responded in this week's Plymouth Sun Sailor to my "Is integrated math right for your child?" March 17 commentary. Her response was respectful, straightforward, and supported by fact. Stucki has also invited me to visit Wayzata High School to observe math classes in action. I'll keep you posted on what happens.

In her column, Stucki says that "Integrated math is an example of using current research to improve our programs...We would not want to continue to teach like we did 50 years ago and therefore ignore what we have learned recently about sound instructional practices." Of course, traditional or sequential math ed proponents do not advocate ignoring sound instructional practices. I would go one step further and suggest that we not throw out 50-year old practices just because they are 50 years old. And there are many who question the research supporting integrated math, considering its relatively brief track record in the schools.

Stucki also states that "A criticism of math in the United States when compared internationally has been that our math curricula were 'a mile wide and an inch deep,' meaning that too many topics were covered without depth. The integrated curriculum addresses that precise issue." She supports this with the favorable results of a study funded by a National Science Foundation grant. Well, the NSF also actively promotes (to put it mildly) integrated math curricula, so are they really an unbiased source?

Wayzata parents should be pleased that, according to Stucki, the district recognizes "the need to gather more data about how our graduates are doing," and that such a survey "will be conducted next year so we can gather more than just anecdotal data about how our schools prepare our students for success." Scholar applauds this announcement and looks forward to hearing more about this study next year.

UPDATE: Stucki's full commentary can be found here.